Chizik steps down as UNC defensive coordinator

The former Auburn head coach is leaving to spend more time with his family after two seasons with the Tar Heels

UNC Athletic Communications photo—UNC Athletic Communications photo
Gene Chizik spent two seasons as the Tar Heels' defensive coordinator

In a surprise move, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has announced that he is stepping down from his position on coach Larry Fedora’s staff to spend more time with his family in Auburn, Ala.Chizik, who as head coach led Auburn to the 2010 national championship, has spent the past two seasons with the Tar Heels and was instrumental in transforming the UNC defense from one of the worst in the country to a unit good enough to win 19 games and the 2015 ACC Coastal Division title during his tenure.For his work, he was named a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.”After a lot of prayer and discussions with my wife and children, I have made the difficult decision to step away from coaching to be with my family,” Chizik said in a statement issued by UNC only hours before Thursday’s rivalry basketball game against Duke. “The past two years at the University of North Carolina and the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora have been a blessing, and I’m extremely proud of the success we enjoyed. I have always told my players family should come before football, and it’s time for me to follow my own advice. I look forward to watching my own son play the game I’ve dedicated my life and career to for the next two years, and I look forward to the simple joys of being a father and husband I’ve missed out on.”Fedora wasted little time naming Chizik’s replacement.Linebackers coach John Papuchis, who worked with Chizik for the past two seasons and previously served as defensive coordinator at Nebraska, has been promoted to a similar position leading the Tar Heels’ defense.In addition to his work at Nebraska, Papuchis has worked as an assistant under Nick Saban at LSU and as a graduate assistant at Kansas.”John is a natural fit to take over our defense given his role the last two years and his previous experience as a coordinator,” Fedora said. “He knows our players and staff and will seamlessly transition into an expanded role.”