AUBURN, Ala. — Gene Chizik led Auburn to perhaps the greatest season in the program's history, and two years later to maybe its worst.
The rapid fall from a national championship to 3-9 and the Southeastern Conference doormat led to Chizik's firing Sunday, the day after a humbling 49-0 loss to No. 2 Alabama that showed just how far the program has slipped.
The Tigers endured the worst slide within two years of winning a national championship of any team since the Associated Press poll started in 1936 and hadn't lost this many games since going 0-10 in 1950. The decision came 17 months after Auburn gave Chizik a contract worth some $3.5 million annually through 2015 with a hefty buyout.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said he informed Chizik Saturday night that he would recommend to President Jay Gogue the next morning that Chizik not be retained.
He said he had concerns with lopsided losses in 2011 but grew "very concerned in our fundamental approach to the game" after the Arkansas game.
"I had hoped our team would show some improvement this season," Jacobs said. "Unfortunately it didn't. The competition in our league is fierce. I decided we could not risk falling further behind by waiting for another year and hoping for improvement."
The players were informed in a team meeting Sunday.
"I'm extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure," Chizik said in a statement released by Auburn. "In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made."
The Tigers went from 14-0 with a perfect SEC record with Cam Newton leading the offense in 2010 to 3-9 and 0-8, losing their final three league games by a combined 150-21. Auburn was blown out by Texas A&M (63-21) and Georgia (38-0) but the finale was even more painful for Tigers fans.
The Crimson Tide cruised to a six-touchdown halftime lead and the second-most lopsided Iron Bowl victory in history, behind only the Tide's 55-0 win in 1948.
"While we experienced a tremendous low in 2012, I will always be proud of the incredible highs that we achieved, including three bowl victories, an SEC championship and a national championship," Chizik said.
He was 33-19 in four seasons and 15-17 in SEC games.
North Carolina State
At Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina State has fired football coach Tom O'Brien after six seasons, four of which were good enough to get the Wolfpack into a bowl but none that could get them to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Athletic director Debbie Yow made the announcement Sunday, one day after the Wolfpack finished a 7-5 regular season with a win over Boston College. During a news conference, Yow said she met with O'Brien on Friday to discuss the future of the program, then notified him of her decision Sunday before meeting with the coaching staff and players.
"I told them it's really fairly simple," Yow said. "Coach O'Brien and I agree on the goal of becoming a top-25 program. We just don't agree on what it takes to do that, how to get there."
O'Brien went 40-35 after coming to Raleigh from BC following the 2006 season. He took the Wolfpack to three bowl games, but won't coach in a fourth when N.C. State receives its bid next week. Yow said O'Brien's buyout would be $1.2 million over four years.
N.C. State says offensive coordinator Dana Bible will be the interim coach for the bowl game. All other assistants are staying to continue bowl preparations.
"I appreciate the opportunity to have coached at North Carolina State University and I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started," O'Brien said in a statement issued by the school.
The 64-year-old O'Brien, who went 75-45 in 10 seasons at BC with eight consecutive bowl berths before coming here, said at his December 2006 hiring that it was "N.C. State or bust for me."
In his statement Sunday, O'Brien said he is looking "forward to life after football."
His teams were just 22-26 in ACC play and finished above .500 in the league just once, going 5-3 in 2010. He was 1-14 in Atlantic Division road games.
At Indianapolis, a strong finish for Purdue wasn't enough to save Danny Hope's job.
One day after Purdue retained the Old Oaken Bucket and became bowl-eligible for the second straight season, athletic director Morgan Burke announced that Hope had been fired. The school has called a 6:30 p.m. news conference to make it official.
Hope went 22-27 in four mostly injury-ravaged seasons. He ended the school's three-year bowl drought last season and brought Purdue its first bowl title since 2007 by winning the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit and was given a two-year contract extension in December that runs through the 2016 season.
Last year's late-season success raised expectations inside and outside the program — expectations that fell flat this season and resulted in too many empty seats in the stands.
The move was not a big surprise.
Speculation had been swirling about Hope's future in West Lafayette since mid-October when the Boilermakers began a five-game losing streak with blowout losses at home to Michigan and Wisconsin.
At Denver, Jon Embree tells The Associated Press he has been fired as coach of the University of Colorado football team.
Embree said he was heading into a meeting with his players Sunday night and didn't want to comment on his firing other than to confirm he'd been let go by athletic director Mike Bohn earlier in the day.
The Buffaloes just competed the worst season in the 123-year history of the program. They finished 1-11 with their only win a 35-34 win at Washington State on Sept 23. Embree was 4-21 in two years at Colorado, where he replaced Dan Hawkins.
At Boston, Boston College has fired football coach Frank Spaziani after four years of progressively worse records and two straight seasons without a bowl appearance.
New athletic director Brad Bates made the announcement on Sunday, a day after the Eagles (2-10, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished the season with a 27-10 loss at North Carolina State.