Tar Heels turn to Chizik to improve struggling defense
North Carolina is hoping former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik can turn around its struggling defense.
The Tar Heels have hired Chizik as defensive coordinator after allowing the most points and yards in their history last year.
Chizik accepted an offer about 2 1/2 weeks ago, though the school didn't officially announce the hiring until Monday once it was finalized. Team spokesman Kevin Best said the three-year deal will pay an average of $691,000 annually, including a base salary of $250,000 plus additional outside compensation.
''I'm thrilled to join Coach (Larry) Fedora's staff and I appreciate the trust he and athletic director Bubba Cunningham have in me,'' Chizik said in a statement.
Chizik coached Auburn to the 2010 national championship with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton and was also head coach at Iowa State. Before that, Chizik was the Tigers' defensive coordinator from 2002-04 and co-defensive coordinator at Texas during the Longhorns' 2005 national-title run.
In a statement, Fedora said Chizik ''believes in competing at the highest level both on and off the field and is another highly regarded leader for our program.''
He'll have a big challenge in Chapel Hill.
UNC allowed 39 points and 497.8 yards per game while setting program records for most points allowed (507) and most yards allowed (6,472). That included program records of 70 points and 789 yards in a September loss at East Carolina.
Chizik was to receive a $7.5 million buyout - paid in monthly installments - after he was fired in November 2012 from Auburn following an 0-8 record in Southeastern Conference play. He has worked as a college football analyst for ESPN and Sirius/XM radio since leaving the Tigers.
Chizik replaces Vic Koenning, who worked as associate head coach for defense for three years. Head coach Larry Fedora said last month that he and Koenning had reached a ''mutual decision'' that Koenning would pursue other college jobs. Koenning is now Troy's defensive coordinator.
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