Ames, Iowa — Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said that twice last week, Gene Chizik assured him he wouldn’t dump the Cyclones for Auburn.
That’s just one of the many reasons Chizik’s departure was such a kick in the gut for Iowa State — which once again finds itself trying to pick its football program off the ground.
An emotional Pollard addressed the media Monday for the first time since confirming that Chizik was leaving to coach the Tigers, despite a 5-19 record in two years with the Cyclones.
Pollard said Iowa State’s fans, staff and players “deserved better,” and even called Chizik’s character and values into question. He said he had a hard time coming to terms with Chizik’s recent actions in light of what he displayed in his two years at Iowa State.
“He’s got to reconcile in himself what he told all these players and what he told our administration and what he’s doing now,” Pollard said. “And if he can live with that, more power to him.”
Pollard was largely lauded for luring Chizik away from Texas in 2006. He refused to address any questions about his search for Chizik’s replacement.
Chizik, a former defensive coordinator at Auburn, was introduced as the Tigers’ coach Monday.
Pollard said Chizik — who had orally accepted his offer of a two-year contract extension through 2014 a week before the season finale against Kansas State on Nov. 22 — interviewed at Auburn Thursday. He said Chizik left him a voicemail Thursday night saying he wasn’t leaving for Auburn, and that Chizik reiterated his stance in a phone conversation between the two Friday morning.
But Pollard said that neither he nor assistant athletic director Steve Malchow could get Chizik to return their calls or text messages Friday afternoon, leading Pollard to believe that “something had gone awry.”
Chizik told Pollard on Friday night that Auburn had offered him the job and that he and his wife, Jonna, were flying to Auburn on Saturday, to decide whether or not to accept it.
“For whatever reason, he chose to do that — and that’s his choice — and, am I mad about it, disappointed, do I feel he betrayed me? I don’t know. At this point, I don’t really care, because he can’t help me win or lose another football game,” Pollard said.