Tiger Players Say They Respect Chizik

Philip Lutzenkirchen

Comments from Philip Lutzenkirchen and Tre Mason are featured about their fired head coach, Gene Chizik.

Auburn, Ala.--Philip Lutzenkirchen, one of the most respected seniors on the 2012 Auburn football team, said that his fired head coach will leave his post with the respect of his team.

Chizik told his players on Sunday afternoon that he is out as their head coach in what Lutzenkirchen said was an emotional meeting.

"He said he is disappointed in himself more than anything," the tight end said when asked about what the fourth-year Auburn head coach told his players.

"He is very hard on himself," Lutzenkirchen said. "He knows as commander and chief of this program that three wins wasn't going to cut it either. It was an emotional meeting. It was just tough for the program today."

Lutzenkirchen's season was cut short due to hip surgery, but he finished his career as Auburn's all-time leader in touchdowns for a tight end.

"I have got a lot of respect for Coach Chizik," said Lutzenkirchen, who noted the players showed that on Sunday.

"I think we did what he deserved," the senior said. "We gave him a standing ovation and clapped for him. Like I said, there is so much love for Coach Chizik from this team. Would we have loved to have seen him get another year and another opportunity, yes, but at the same time we understand where Jay Jacobs (Auburn's athletic director) is coming from."

Auburn finished 3-9 and was 0-8 in the SEC, two years after finishing 14-0 and winning the national title.

Sophomore running back Tre Mason said Sunday was a "rough day for everybody."

Mason, who rushed for 1,002 yards this season, said, "I have nothing negative to say about Coach Chizik. He has done a lot for me and this program. That is who I was recruited by. I wish him the best of luck in his future.

Lutzenkirchen agreed with Mason and said, "I am disappointed in the year, disappointed in having to let Coach Chizik go, but that is a part of business in college football, especially at a big-time program like us in the SEC.

"Not winning a conference game is not going to cut it wherever you are at in this league," he added. "I think there are multiple teams going through this process in our league now, but it is tough to see someone you have been with for four years, someone who gave you a chance, to through this.

Lutzenkirchen predicted that Chizik will resurface as coach and do well after taking a break. "He will be able to take a year or two off and spend time with his family--much needed time probably. He has got young kids. He will be able to watch them grow up and be part of their adolescence."

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