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Texas assistant puts own streak on line
By MICHAEL SNYDER
Published January 2, 2006
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Gene Chizik takes his job seriously, very seriously, so it shouldn't come as a surprise the Texas co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach wasn't interested in talking to the media before Sunday's mandated news conference.
Chizik was busy with film. Busy teaching. Busy leading his players through drills. Busy focusing on Wednesday's game against top-ranked Southern California in the Rose Bowl.
A Clearwater High and Florida grad (Class of '85), Chizik doesn't need to talk much anyway. His numbers - and his teams - speak for themselves.
The biggest number is 28, as in 28 straight games his teams have won. The first 16 were as defensive coordinator at Auburn (including a 13-0 season).
"I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have been able to make the move to the University of Texas and continue a streak," Chizik said. "You know, it's been fun. It's not something I think about it a whole bunch. Obviously, it would be nice to continue that streak, I can assure you (of) that."
Texas ranks near the top nationally in many categories, including sixth in total defense (280.3 yards per game), fifth in passing defense (155.9) and fourth in scoring defense (14.6).
"It's been fun, especially with these guys," Chizik said. "This football team is different. They're just different. They've got something about them. They've got some chemistry and some great things that it's hard to pinpoint the things that make champions, but this team has it in them."
Chizik, whose name is often mentioned when head-coaching vacancies occur, has won over his charges in a very short time with his no-nonsense approach.
"He's a straight-up, forward person," senior defensive tackle Rodrique Wright said. "He's a drill sergeant. Out on the field I don't see him yell much, but he's a real serious person. Basically he tells us what to do and we get it done. Before the game he gives the best pep talks. ... He makes you want to go out and compete."
"Gene brought in instant credibility. He was an assistant coach of the year," coach Mack Brown said of the 2004 Broyles Award winner. "He'd won 13 straight games last year and he's on a string of about 20-something as a coach so we really didn't have a dropoff in our expectations of our fan base about our defense, and that's a credit to Gene."
A fan of Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin , whose son Lane is USC's first-year offensive coordinator, Chizik spent four years leading the defense at Central Florida. Chizik said USC is easily the biggest challenge of a coaching career that began at Seminole High in Pinellas, where he was defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach from 1986-88.
"It's going to be a great challenge," Chizik said. "... I may do this another 20 years and never get (another) shot to do this, and they may play another 20 years and not get a shot at doing this again. ... I think it's something you hold onto for a long time."
MORE STREAKS: Much has been made of USC's 34-game winning streak, the longest in the country, but Texas has a streak that's also impressive.
The Longhorns have won their last 19 games - the second-longest streak in school history, trailing only a 30-game stretch from 1968-70 - and eight of the victories have come against Top 25 teams.
"(The media) is not saying anything about us, so it's a little fuel for you," junior quarterback Vince Young said. "There are a lot of different things that we're doing over there that we're not getting respected for, so we're just going to go out there and play our game."