Gene Chizik goes in-depth on his decision to step away from coaching

As first reported by FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman, Gene Chizik, who is best known for leading Auburn to a national championship during the 2010 season, has decided to step away from coaching. The 55-year-old Chizik has spent the past two seasons at North Carolina as the team’s defensive coordinator.

So what made a relatively young coach who has had a lot of success as both a defensive coordinator and head coach step away from the profession altogether? Chizik explained the decision to Feldman and Stewart Mandel on this week’s edition of “The Audible Podcast.” In the end, it’s all about family.

“One of the things I promised my kids was when we moved to Auburn the second time and I became the head coach [Chizik had previously served as the school’s defensive coordinator from 2002-04], I told them that this would be the last move they would ever make. Because growing up and me kind of working my way up the ranks, it was kind of funny because my children could always tell you where they were born, they could never tell you where they were from. 

“So when we moved to Auburn, I said, ‘look guys, you’re going to be able to say, you’re from Auburn. That’s where I am from, that’s where I was raised.’ And I held true to that. And when I took this job at Carolina, it was really difficult [but] we made a family decision together that I was going to let my girls finish out high school, let my boy high school, and we would do the best we could in terms of commuting. So we did that for two years and we didn’t know what that would look like or feel like. And it worked. We made it work because that’s what you have to do.

“But at the end of the day, this decision was made because it was really hard to come to grips with my boy being in high school for four years and me not being a part of his life. And being a part of his baseball games, his football games. It was extremely tough.”

Chizik went more in-depth on the decision, including how he let North Carolina’s players know that he was stepping away.

Finally, he discussed the message that he shares with all young coaches working up the ranks. Again, it’s about finding time to balance both your personal and professional life.

“When you’ve got three hours off, don’t go play golf. Go be with your kids. I tell young coaches that all the time. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to put food on your table, to be great at your craft. But that’s not 24/7. There’s windows in there where you have opportunities — don’t go blow those opportunities. Make sure your heart’s right and you go do the things that (are) right, and that is be with your family whenever you can and be present whenever you can. Don’t go home and pick up the clicker, sit down in front of your TV and not pay attention to anybody. You’re home but you’re not home.”

Chizik did mention at the end of the interview that his departure from North Carolina doesn’t mean he’s retired from coaching. He left open that door, explaining he could get back into it in a few years, presumably when his son finishes high school (he is currently a sophomore).

His decision to step down at North Carolina is just one of many topics Chizik discussed with Bruce and Stew. There was also talk about former UNC quarterback (and top NFL Draft prospect) Mitch Trubisky, as well as conversations about his 30 years in coaching.

To hear the complete episode of “The Audible” click here, or subscribe below to have new episodes delivered right to your phone.

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