Auburn's Chizik coping with death of mother


Auburn's Chizik coping with death of mother

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gene Chizik is dealing with another blow during a miserable season. This time, it's deeply personal.

His mother, Rita, passed away Monday morning.

``It's been a tough 24 hours for me personally and my family with the passing of my mother,'' Chizik said on Tuesday. ``That's never easy, no matter how old you get. It's been quite challenging, but I do want to say on an encouraging note it was really good to hear from so many great Auburn people that were very supportive, and people outside the Auburn family as well. It was very encouraging to hear the different thoughts and prayers that went out for me personally and my personal family.''

Chizik said the family will have a private ceremony at some point, but not necessarily this week.

It has been a trying four-plus months for Chizik and the Tigers since two former players - Ed Christian and LaDarious Phillips - were killed at a pool party near campus in June.

On the field, Auburn is 1-6 for its worst start in 60 years and has dropped its first five Southeastern Conference games. The Tigers host No. 22 Texas A&M Saturday night in a game that will present a huge test on both sides of the ball for beleaguered Auburn.

Chizik deflects questions about the personal toll all that has taken.

``I'm the leader of the program,'' he said. ``I'm the leader of Auburn football. That's my job. Your jobs aren't easy sometimes. My job's not easy sometimes, what I do, but I love my job and I love being a part of Auburn. And it's all my responsibility. Have there been difficult times? Of course there have. Have there been some great times? Absolutely, too.

``We don't look at the past and the woe is me. You've got to take it one day at a time and you've got to keep moving forward. That's the name of the game for me, and I've got a lot of faith in these young guys and I've got a lot of faith in Auburn and I've got a lot of faith in our coaches. We've got to keep plugging along.''

Now, one of the most experienced offensive players, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, is set for surgery this week on a season-ending hip injury. Lutzenkirchen is the team's No. 2 receiver.

Auburn is facing the prospect of going winless in SEC games this season with the Aggies, No. 12 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama left on the schedule. This comes after losses to Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Arkansas - a collective 5-6 in SEC games, compared to 10-3 for the remaining league opponents

Quarterback Clint Moseley, who has started the past two games, said the team has to show its maturity.

``We're just at a point where the leaders really have to emerge right now and make sure that nobody gets down,'' said Moseley, who will likely start again on Saturday. ``It's just natural for you to want to take the easy way out. It's a real test of our leadership and how many men, grown men we have on our team.''

Moseley said it makes it harder given that the Tigers were 14-0 two years ago and have fallen further, faster than any national champion since the AP poll started in 1936.

``There's really nothing positive from this situation but that can be a positive in revealing your true character,'' he said. ``This is a time when true leaders lead so this is a time we need everybody on the team and myself to step up.''

Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

USA Today Sports Images

Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, Richmond plays host to Oral Roberts to try and get a third consecutive victory.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

Oral Roberts at Richmond How to Watch

What: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Richmond Spiders
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

Oral Roberts at Richmond Preview

Conference: Summit League (Oral Roberts), A-10 (Richmond)
Record: 3-9 (Oral Roberts), 4-5 (Richmond)
Last Game: 80-64 loss at Missouri 12/7 (Oral Roberts), 82-47 win vs. Coppin State, 12/5 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Emmanuel Nzekwesi, 15.1 ppg (Oral Roberts), Grant Golden, 19.9 ppg (Richmond)

Quick Links

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

USA Today Sports Images

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.