Auburn's Chizik coping with death of mother

Associated Press Modified: October 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm •  Published: October 23, 2012

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."

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