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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chizik all business at media day

Here's a story I wrote for today's paper about Auburn coach Gene Chizik's first SEC media days experience. Chizik certainly wasn't the star. In fact, I heard a lot of people calling his portion boring, particularly this guy. I guess it was a shock to a lot of people who haven't heard the no-frills Chizik speak before, but we beat writers thought it was simply the norm.

Anyway, here's how the story starts:

HOOVER, Ala. — The carnival known as SEC Media Days concluded Friday with the most entertaining lineup of public speakers all week.

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier was folksy and quick-witted, LSU’s Les Miles earnest and honest, Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin brash and enthusiastic.

But Gene Chizik preceded them all. Making his first league-wide address, the newly-minted Auburn coach was a departure from the rest of the day’s lineup, straight-laced and business-like, cautious with everything he said, careful not to overstep his bounds or draw too much attention 'to himself.

"What gets you attention is when you win,” Chizik said. “I don’t have to go out and try to gather attention for myself. This isn’t about me. This is about Auburn. It’s not about me. It’s not about our coaches. It’s about Auburn.”

It’s been eight months since he was hired on the Plains to replace Tommy Tuberville, and the 47-year-old Chizik remains hard to peg, rarely giving glimpses of a lighter side his players and assistants say completes his engaging personality.

His declarations limited, his words resigned, Chizik refuses to speculate, not on injuries, not on other teams, not on public perception.

When he met with assembled Auburn media prior to his time on stage Friday, he refused to divulge his first-team All-SEC quarterback selection, not wanting to set a precedent in which he would have to discuss future private ballots. Only once he spoke before the entire SEC media contingent, and with additional prodding, did he reluctantly admit to voting for Tim Tebow.

“I do keep things close to the vest,” Chizik said. “I respect everybody’s job and everybody wants information and I want everybody to do their job to the best of their ability, but I also want to make sure that I answer everything and protect Auburn and Auburn football and our players.”

I also had a notebook you can read here. It covers Auburn being picked to finish fifth in the West, Montez Billings's status, Dax Dellenbach's departure, Chris Todd's shoulder, the coach other than Chizik Antonio Coleman wouldn't mind playing for and what colors Chizik would prefer Auburn fans wear to games (hint: he's not too specific).

Our Georgia writer David Hale writes about Lane Kiffin here.

He also has a notebook that covers Georgia's place in the preseason predictions, Spurrier fessing up to causing the Tebow debacle and the issue of coaches not filling out their own ballots.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to tel readers that I'll be doing a day-by-day look at Auburn's opponents starting next week. I've contacted beat writers from each team to do five questions and will be breaking down each opponent.

So keep coming back for more updates leading right up to the opening of August practice on Aug. 5.

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