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Auburn joins Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky as SEC teams with job openings showing the huge divide in a league with six teams ranked in the Top 11.

Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said players gave Chizik a warm ovation after the team meeting.

“I think we did what he deserved and we gave him a standing ovation and clapped for him,” he said. “There’s so much love for coach Chizik on this team. Would we have loved to see him get another year, another opportunity? Yes, but at the same time we understand where Jay Jacobs is coming from. Three wins isn’t going to cut it in our league.”

Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker said, “It’s kind of crazy right now. I had a special bond with Coach Chizik.”

Chizik inserted tailback Tre Mason on the final play against Alabama to get him to 1,000 yards. The next day, Mason saw his coach get fired.

“It was a rough day for everybody,” Mason said. “It’s tough. There are going to be a lot of tears shed because there are a lot of relationships that may be put on hold or come to an end today. I have nothing negative to say about coach Chizik. He’s done a lot for me and this program. I wish him the best of luck in his future.”

Chizik had sandwiched two 8-5 seasons around the national title, but never approached the success of 2010, when Newton won the Heisman Trophy. The Tigers were 7-17 in SEC games outside of 2010 during his tenure.

His hiring was criticized by some fans after Chizik went 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State and lost the last 10 games of his first head coaching job.

Jacobs was heckled at the airport after making the hire.

Chizik had been defensive coordinator on unbeaten teams at Auburn and Texas.

A search committee comprised of former Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson and former Tigers fullback Mac Crawford will assist Jacobs, the school said.

Jacobs said he wants a proven winner — not necessarily an experienced head coach — who follows the rules and stresses academics.

A transition year in 2012 might have been expected.

Chizik had to replace the offensive and defensive coordinators after last season. Chizik made an ill-fated switch from Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle, spread offense to a pro-style system with the hiring of former Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

The Tigers struggled in the transition, partly because of shaky quarterback play and ended the season with freshman Jonathan Wallace under center.

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