Premium Podcast: Following departure of Chip Lindsey, ASU begins search for new offensive coordinator

Arizona State will have its third different offensive coordinator in three seasons after Chip Lindsey departed the program to become the offensive coordinator at Auburn on Saturday.

Editor's Note: To download this week's 'Sun Devil Source Report' podcast, click here. This week's episode features a discussion of Chip Lindsey's departure from ASU, who the Sun Devils may consider for their offensive coordinator opening, and an update regarding all of ASU's priority recruiting targets. 

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham's record in hiring offensive coordinators speaks for itself.

In Graham's 11 seasons as a head coach, the Texas native has hired four different offensive coordinators who have moved onto become FBS head coaches. Additionally, Graham's most recent offensive coordinator hire, Chip Lindsey, left the Sun Devils' program Saturday after just one season to take the same position at Auburn.

Major Applewhite (Houston), Gus Malzahn (Auburn), Chad Morris (Southern Methodist) and Mike Norvell (Memphis) have all used platforms provided by Graham to advance their careers before eventually earning head coaching opportunities, and Lindsey is the latest Graham assistant to move onto a high-profile opportunity. 

With the announcement of Lindsey's departure, Graham has a small period of time to act if he believes having a coordinator in place by National Signing Day is critical. However, Graham may elect to wait until after National Signing Day to narrow down the field of candidates. 

According to a source, the Sun Devils' head coach is interested in waiting to see who reaches out regarding ASU's new opening before beginning the process of determining which candidates he wants to have further dialogue with.

Graham has a history of making unconventional selections when hiring offensive coordinators, as Applewhite and Norvell were among the youngest coordinators in the country when they were hired while Malzahn and Morris gained most of their prior experience working at the high school level before taking high-profile jobs on Graham's staffs.

Lindsey was considered more of a polished candidate than most of Graham's other coordinator hires, even though he had just two seasons of coordinating experience at the FBS level at Southern Miss and one season working under Malzahn at Auburn as an offensive analyst.  

With that in mind, there's a possibility that the next coordinator at ASU is an under-the-radar coach with a shorter track record. Based on Graham's hiring history, SunDevilSource has compiled a list of coaches who could become primary candidates for ASU's offensive coordinator opening.

The potential candidates

Rhett Lashlee: A four-year offensive coordinator at Auburn under Malzahn, Lashlee was a 2013 finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach. Lashlee's career is deeply tied to Malzahn's as Lashlee played quarterback for Malzahn when he was the head coach at Springdale High in Arkansas, which is why Lashlee's decision to leave Auburn for the offensive coordinator position at UCONN came as a surprise this offseason. For the first time in Malzahn's career, he completely turned over the offensive play-calling duties to an assistant, as Lashlee took over after the Tigers struggled out of the gates in 2016. Though Lashlee helped resurrect some of the team's offensive firepower, he left the program and took a significant pay cut to run a Huskies' offense that was the worst unit in its conference in 2016. With Lindsey back at Auburn, Lashlee is perhaps the only qualified coach with a background in Malzahn's offense who Graham can consider for the ASU opening.

Matt Mumme: The head coach at Division III LaGrange College in Georgia for the past four seasons, Mumme was hired as the offensive coordinator at Nevada this offseason under new head coach, Jay Norvell. Norvell, ASU's wide receivers coach in 2016, made the hire of Mumme at the recommendation of Lindsey, who incorporated many principles of the Air Raid offense into the Sun Devils' scheme during his one-year stint at ASU. The son of Hal Mumme, the mastermind behind the Air Raid offense, Matt Mumme's Panthers led the USA South Conference in passing yards for the fourth straight season this year, averaging more than 360 yards per game. Mumme has a background grooming quarterbacks at smaller colleges, which is a trait that may appeal to Graham during ASU's search.

Darrin Chiaverini: A co-offensive coordinator at Colorado, Chiaverini helped lead a program revival for the Buffaloes in his first season at his alma mater, teaming with fellow offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren to help Colorado stun the Pac-12 and win the South Division. A former assistant at Texas Tech, Chiaverini brought knowledge of the Red Raiders' up-tempo Air Raid attack and helped mesh that with Lindgren's offense to create one of the most efficient offenses in the Pac-12 this season. A top recruiter for the Buffaloes as well, Chiaverini has experience courting prospects from Southern California and Texas. However, because Lindgren calls the plays for the Buffaloes, the ASU offensive coordinator job may entice Chiaverini to leave Colorado.

Kendal Briles: The former offensive coordinator at Baylor under his father, Art Briles, Kendal Briles departed the Bears' program this offseason to become the offensive coordinator under new head coach Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic. During Briles' tenure with the Bears, he served as the team's quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach and was considered a top recruiter for the program. A 2015 finalist for the Broyles Award, Briles' unit led the country in points per game (48.1) and yards per game (616.2) that season, his first as the Baylor play-caller. Even though Briles has an impressive pedigree, It's unclear whether ASU would consider hiring a second assistant coach (ASU hired defensive coordinator Phil Bennett) from Baylor following the fallout from a sexual assault scandal that resulted in Art Briles' termination.

Mark Helfrich: The former head coach of the Oregon Ducks, Helfrich was fired after posting a 4-8 record in 2016, his fourth season as the program's head coach. Previously, Helfrich served as the offensive coordinator under former head coach Chip Kelly, and helped develop Marcus Mariota into the Ducks' first Heisman Trophy winner. Helfrich has ties to ASU, where he worked from 2001-2005 as the program's quarterbacks coach before departing to become the offensive coordinator at Colorado. This late in the offseason, there aren't many offensive coordinator positions still available, especially in the west, where Helfrich has spent his entire coaching career, so the option of returning to ASU may appeal to him.

Sonny Dykes: Much like Helfrich, another recently dismissed Pac-12 coach with an offensive background, Dykes is also available for hire. After serving as the head coach at Louisiana Tech between 2010 and 2012, Dykes spent four seasons coaching at Cal where he instituted a "Bear Raid" offense that featured one of the nation's most prolific passing attacks. During his time at Cal, Dykes mentored 2015 No. 1 overall NFL Draft choice Jared Goff as well as graduate transfer Davis Webb who led the Bears to a 5-7 mark in 2016. Dykes has ties to the Grand Canyon State as he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona between 2007-2009, helping the Wildcats to back-to-back eight-win seasons during the final two years of his tenure. 

Jason Mohns: The head coach at Saguaro High (Scottsdale), Mohns has spent the past five seasons leading one of the state's most prolific prep programs and has compiled a 61-7 record in the process, winning four consecutive state championships. Mohns is an ASU alumnus who started a successful youth football club in Scottsdale before joining the Saguaro staff back in 2007 as the program's head freshman coach. Three of Mohns' current players, Corey StephensKyle Soelle and Jared Poplawski are ASU commits and four-star safety K.J. Jarrell is expected to announce his college decision on Wednesday, with the Sun Devils' considered the favorite to earn his commitment.

Shaun Aguano: The head coach at Chandler High, Aguano has coached in the Wolves' program for the last 16 seasons, serving as an offensive coordinator, running backs coach, and now as the head coach for the past six years. During his tenure as head coach, Aguano has led the Wolves to state championships in 2014 and in 2016, and has produced a number of FBS prospects including ASU wide receiver and Freshman All-American N'Keal Harry

Joe Craddock: A 31-year-old offensive coordinator working under Morris at SMU, Craddock is a former Middle Tennessee quarterback who spent time as a graduate assistant at Clemson and is credited with aiding the development of Deshaun Watson. When Craddock was hired at SMU in December of 2014, he became the youngest offensive coordinator at the FBS level. In 2016, SMU finished 72nd nationally in scoring offense, averaging 27.7 points per game, and 55th nationally in total offense, averaging 427.3 yards per game.

Elevate Rob Likens or Josh Henson: Both Likens, ASU's new wide receivers coach, and Henson, ASU's new offensive line coach, have power five conference experience as offensive coordinators and both coaches were hired with the input of Lindsey. Now that Lindsey has departed, ASU may consider experimenting with some combination of Likens and Henson, or a combination of one of the assistants and a quarterbacks coach to be named later to serve as co-coordinators. Likens could serve as a pass game coordinator with Henson serving as a run game coordinator with one of the coaches taking on the duties as ASU's primary offensive play-caller. ASU could explore a scenario where Graham hires a young quarterbacks coach to double as a key recruiter (perhaps Craddock), giving that coach pass game coordinator duties while allowing Henson to serve as the run game coordinator and play-caller. 


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