Originally written November 21, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
South-carolina-auburn
The hits just keep on coming for Gene Chizik and his program. As if it wasnt enough that the 2010 BCS national champions are just 3-8 heading into this weekends Iron Bowl against No. 2 Alabama, a Yahoo! Sports report released Wednesday documented an ongoing investigation into the Auburn Tigers football program. According to the report, NCAA investigators have combed the program over the past weeks looking for violations involving Auburn coaches, players, recruits and other parties linked to program. The investigation is particularly looking into two Chizik assistants, wide receivers coach and assistant head coach Trooper Taylor and running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Curtis Luper. Both coaches were recently taken off the recruiting trail, though Chizik declined comment on the matter last month. Taylor was a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association's national Assistant Coach of the Year this season. Auburn, the NCAA and other parties linked to the investigation have all declined comment. The investigation is not believed to be related to the 2010 Auburn allegations concerning Heisman winner and No. 1 NFL Draft pick Cam Newton, which dominated headlines during the schools national title run. After a brief suspension, Newton was cleared by the NCAA that season without missing a game. Of course, this all adds to the firestorm surrounding Chizik this season, as the program has completely fallen apart in 2012. The Tigers are winless in SEC play with their only wins coming against Alabama A&M, New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe (in overtime) and there have been loud grumblings about their head coachs job security. Losing offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the architect of the offensive scheme surrounding Newton, has been a popular topic when discussing this seasons struggles, as Chiziks career head coaching record is just 8-27 without Malzahn at his side. But now those might be the least of Chiziks worries. Facing Nick Sabans Crimson Tide is an enormous task for any program, especially a 3-8 squad with the 107th-ranked offense and the cloud of an NCAA investigation hanging overhead. Tough times on The Plains indeed.
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