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Report: UNC to Hire Gene Chizik as Defensive Coordinator

UNC opens 2015 with a big-name hire for the vacant defensive coordinator position.

Why is this man smiling? Because UNC just made a big defensive hire.
Why is this man smiling? Because UNC just made a big defensive hire.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well that's quite a way to open up 2015.

ESPN's Joe Schad is among multiple sources reporting that Carolina will hire former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as its new defensive coordinator. Chizik will replace Vic Koenning, who was fired in December after UNC's defense set a number of school records for being epically bad.

Chizik led Auburn to the 2010 national championship behind current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton but was let go after a 3-9 season in 2012. Prior to Auburn he was a head coach at Iowa State as well as the defensive coordinator at Texas, Auburn, and Central Florida. This would be Chizik's first coaching job since leaving Auburn in 2012.

Initial response from UNC's players was positive, with Marquise Williams and Ryan Switzer among those tweeting out their excitement at the choice. However that's not to say this hire is not without risk as Auburn wasn't exactly NCAA clean during Chizik's tenure and you have to wonder about the optics. Then again Butch Davis was perfectly clean and we all know how that turned out (meaning only it happened on his watch - not gonna open that can of worms).

If nothing else a big-time hire like this shows UNC is not going to be passive waiting for the NCAA to act on the Wainstein Report and brings excitement and buzz following the atrocious end to the season and UNC's defensive futility in 2014.