Who is Chip Lindsey?
A native of Madison, Alabama, Lindsey played football at North Alabama -- the same school as ASU tight ends coach Chip Long -- then transferred to the University of Alabama as a student. He's in his early 40s and has four children with his wife. Lindsey coached at an assortment of high schools in Alabama as an assistant from 1997 -- the year he graduated college -- through 2004. He became a head coach in high school for the first time in 2005 and became the offensive coordinator at Hoover High, arguably the best program in the state, in 2007. He then became head coach at Lassiter High in Georgia in 2008-09. He won Coach of the Year honors from several publications in 2006 and 2009.
In 2010, Lindsey was the quarterbacks coach at Troy University, his first college stint, before going back to high school at Spain Park in 2011-12, where he led the team to its first 6A regional title. In 2013, Lindsey became an offensive analyst for Gus Malzahn at Auburn and in 2014 he was named the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Southern Miss.
Why did ASU coach Todd Graham hire Lindsey?
Upon ASU's announcing of Lindsey as its new offensive coordinator Friday, Graham said the following: “Chip was our top priority when we put together our initial list of candidates, so I couldn’t be happier that Chip is joining our family. Chip recently turned down an offer to be the head coach at Eastern Kentucky, and he’s made it very clear how excited he is to be coming to Tempe. Chip is an outstanding developer of quarterbacks and we have similar offensive philosophies as he worked for Gus Malzahn at Auburn in 2013. Chip has quickly established him as one of the top offensive minds in the nation, and I have no doubt he is going to do great things with our student-athletes.”
Graham's first offensive coordinator at Tulsa was current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, and Graham's program ideology comes from sharping his defensive approach against Malzahn's offense. Lindsey worked under Malzahn in 2013 and has largely adopted the terminology and scheme that ASU uses under Graham. As a result, the language of the offense that ASU uses and how it's communicated and all the position designations are the same. None of that needs to be changed, and Graham preferred that. There is a seamlessness associated with having such a transition and that's a major factor with what led to Lindsey's hire.
What did Lindsey have to say about being hired by ASU?
“I’m extremely excited to get to Arizona State and get started,” Lindsey said. “It’s a honor to be on Coach Graham’s staff and to be a part of the Arizona State family. I have a tremendous respect for the tradition at ASU, and I’m looking forward to building on the foundation coach Graham has built over the past four seasons in Tempe. My familiarity with coach Graham’s views on offense will allow me to hit the ground running starting today. It has been a great two years at Southern Miss and I want to thank Todd Monken for the opportunity he gave me. I wish those guys the best of luck in their bowl game on Dec. 26, and in the future.”
What can ASU fans expect with Lindsey's offense?
It's the same system as ASU currently uses. Of course, every play-caller is different to some degree and we'll likely see Lindsey's approach within the scheme vary to some degree from that of Mike Norvell. At Southern Miss, Lindsey became the primary play-caller only in 2015 and the Golden Eagles saw a dramatic improvement in their offensive potency and overall team performance. They went from 1-11 in 2013 to 3-9 in 2014 to 9-4 in 2014. In Conference USA league play they were 1-7 in 2014 an 7-1 in 2015.
Southern Miss was No. 12 in scoring nationally this season with 40.6 points and ninth in total offense at 519.8 yards. The Golden Eagles had a 4,000 yard passer and two 1,000 yard rushers, the second FBS team to accomplish such a feat in history after Oklahoma in 2008. They led the nation in explosive plays of 20 or more yards. Quarterback Nick Mullens -- whom Lindsey coached in high school -- had 4,145 passing yards on the season, which was seventh nationally with 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Lindsey's play calling was split nearly 50/50 between run and pass, with 492 pass attempts in 964 total plays from scrimmage for an average of 7.0 yards-per-play, which is in the Top-10 nationally. His two top running backs had 1,113 and 1,112 yards respectively and averaged a combined 6.5 yards per carry.
At quarterback, Mullens wasn't asked to carry the football much at all. He had just 37 carries for a net negative 68 yards rushing. He was sacked 22 times, which is included in the total, which means Mullens intentionally carried the ball either by design or read option just about one time per game on average. It was essentially not a part of the Southern Miss offense and yet the team was one of the most potent nationally.
Five players caught more than 30 passes for the Golden Eagles this season, three of whom were wideouts and two who were the team's top two running backs, who combined for 74 catches for 777 yards. Though they have a 3-back/move h-back position, the Golden Eagles only threw to the ball to the starter at the position for nine completions.
What else stands out about Lindsey?
He's aggressive with his decisions and play-calling. Southern Miss was second in the league in on-side kicks with four, and they came in non-required situations. It was also tied for second in the conference in how many times it went on fourth down, with 14 conversions on 29 attempts. The Golden Eagles led the nation in 20-plus yard explosive plays as well.
It'll be interesting how Graham and Lindsey marry Southern Miss's high penalty tendency -- last in C-USA with 93 penalties for 886 yards last season -- with ASU's low penalty tendency.
Lindsey has clear experience developing quarterbacks, having done so with Mullens from high school through to college, where he become one of the nation's most prolific passers under Lindsey's guidance.
Who will call plays for ASU in the Cactus Bowl?
It appears Lindsey may be the team's bowl play caller. This is very rarely done in such transitions but enabled by how quickly Graham made the hire, the fact ASU plays at the end of the bowl season, Jan. 2, and most importantly, that Lindsey runs the same scheme with the same language as ASU currently uses. Lindsey is starting to coach the team in its bowl practice today and will have three weeks to prepare a veteran offense for the transition.
What can be expected from a recruiting standpoint?
It's largely an unknown because Lindsey has never coached at the Power 5 conference level and also has no experience outside of the South. Of course, Norvell's strengths were also in the South, but further West and his reach was clearly excellent. It's going to take time to see how much, if anything, is lost from a recruiting standpoint, with Graham even saying at times that Norvell was as good as any recruiter he had on staff.