CHAPEL HILL, NC — North Carolina’s search for an offensive coordinator ended with Chip Lindsey on Thursday, the Central Florida assistant coach leaving the Knights after one season to take the same position with coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels.
The 48-year-old Lindsey spent three seasons as the head coach at Troy from 2019-21, where his teams went 15-19, after offensive coordinator stops at Southern Mississippi (2014-15), Arizona State (2016) and Auburn ( 2017-18). He directed offenses under coach Todd Monken at Southern Miss, coach Todd Graham at Arizona State, and coach Gus Malzahn at Auburn and UCF.
Brown hired Lindsey eight days after UNC’s offensive coordinator job came open, when Phil Longo left the Tar Heels to join Luke Fickell’s new staff at Wisconsin. Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. followed Longo last week in departing UNC for Wisconsin, and the Tar Heels replaced Bicknell with new offensive line coach Randy Clements on Wednesday.
Brown added passing game coordinator to UNC receivers coach Lonnie Galloway’s title and running game coordinator to UNC tight ends coach John Lilly’s title on Thursday. The Tar Heels (9-4) meet Oregon (9-3) on Dec. 28 in the Holiday Bowl.
With Longo calling UNC’s plays across the last four seasons, the Tar Heels featured some of the most productive and explosive offensive units in school history, with star quarterbacks Sam Howell (2019-2021) and Drake Maye at the controls. The redshirt freshman Maye emerged as ACC Player of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Sources have told Inside Carolina that, in some form, Maye was a part of the interviewing process that ultimately had Brown settling on Lindsey as UNC’s new offensive coordinator. Brown prioritized a proven background in quarterback coaching during the offensive coordinator search, sources said.
Behind Longo’s Air Raid scheme, the Tar Heels ranked No. 15 nationally and No. 2 in the ACC in total offense with 473.6 yards per game. Maye and go-to receiver Josh Downs, the first-team All-ACC selection, powered an aerial attack that ranked No. 9 nationally and No. 1 in the ACC with 317.2 passing yards per game. Maye topped the ACC in passing (4,115 yards for 316.5 yards per game), passing touchdowns (35), completion percentage (67.2 percent), and a number of other categories.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chip, his wife Cecily, and their four children, Claire, Caroline, Cooper and Conner, to the Carolina football family,” Brown said Thursday in a statement announcing Lindsey’s hiring. “Chip is well-versed in UNC’s offensive style of play and he has a wealth of experience working with some of the greatest offensive minds in the country. You can see that in the way his offenses play. Chip is multiple in his approach and has the unique skill of adapting based on personnel. He’s developed quarterbacks at a high level including two current NFL QBs in Nick Mullens and Jarrett Stidham. Chip does a great job teaching the young men he works with and giving them the ability to maximize their potential. Everyone I spoke with during the search raved about him as both a coach and a person and we’re thrilled he and his family are part of our program.”
During his lone season as offensive coordinator at UCF, Lindsey guided a unit that ranked 26th nationally in scoring (34.4 points per game), 11th in total offense (480.6 yards per game), and eighth in rushing offense (236.1 yards per game). The Knights rushed for 200 or more yards in nine games in 2022, and their 33 rushing touchdowns tied for 10th nationally and led the AAC. UCF reached the AAC championship, where the Knights fell to Tulane earlier this month. UCF (9-4) plays Duke on Dec. 28 in the Military Bowl.
Lindsey spent the previous three years in the Sun Belt as head coach at Troy, compiling records of 5-7 in 2019, 5-6 in 2020, and 5-6 in 2021. During his second season, Troy ranked 21st nationally and second in the Sun Belt in passing (290.2 yards per game). The Trojans’ offensive line ranked third nationally in Pro Football Focus pass blocking efficiency ratings in 2020.
In Lindsey’s first season at Troy, the Trojans topped the 500-yard mark in total offense on six different occasions to tie the program’s Division I record and scored 35-plus points eight times, the second most in program history and fourth most in Sun Belt history. The Trojans finished ninth nationally in passing offense (313.2 yards per game), 25th in scoring offense (33.8 points per game) and 18th in total offense (456.3 yards per game). Lindsey guided quarterback Kaleb Barker to one of the best seasons in Troy history in 2019. Barker finished third nationally in completions per game (24.92), fifth in passing yards per game (302.3), fourth in 300-yard passing games (six) and 14th in touchdown passes (30).
During the 2017-18 seasons, Lindsey served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn. The Tigers defeated Pac-12 champion Washington and nationally ranked Texas A&M during the 2018 campaign, on the way to beating Purdue in the Music City Bowl.
In 2017, Auburn became the eighth team in SEC history, and the first in school history, to rush and pass for 3,000 yards in a season. The Tigers ranked 26th nationally in total offense and set an Auburn scoring record with 327 points in SEC play. Auburn won the SEC West Division after knocking off a pair of top-ranked teams in Georgia and Alabama across a three-week period.
All-SEC and NFL quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the second Auburn player ever to throw for 3,000 yards in a season, led the league and ranked ninth nationally in completion percentage. Running back Kerryon Johnson was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and Ryan Davis set an Auburn receiving record with 84 catches. During Lindsey’s first stint at Auburn as an offensive analyst in 2013, the Tigers won the SEC championship and played in the BCS national championship game.
“I had a wonderful experience playing for Coach Lindsey,” Stidham said Thursday in a statement. “His knowledge and ability to teach truly helped me develop as a player. We had great success together at Auburn, and I’m still utilizing his coaching principles in the NFL. I’m thrilled for Coach Lindsey and his family and I know he’ll do a great job for UNC.”
Lindsey returned to Auburn from Arizona State, where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016. The Sun Devils started 5-1 before losing three quarterbacks to injury, while running back Kalen Ballage tied an NCAA record scoring eight TDs in a 68- 55 shootout win over Texas Tech.
As offensive coordinator at Southern Miss from 2014-15, he developed Conference USA 2015 Offensive Player of the Year and NFL quarterback Nick Mullens, who ranked second in the league in passing yards (4,145) and TD passes (36) and ranked in the top eight nationally.
“Coach Lindsey is first and foremost a great man with a great family,” Mullens said Thursday in a statement. “He’s an excellent coach, who helped me develop into the player I am today. He does a great job of teaching quarterbacks and has the ability to help us understand not only what we were supposed to do but why we’re doing it. I couldn’t be happy for Coach Lindsey and his family. This is a great hire for UNC.”
The Southern Miss offense broke five single-season school records in 2015: completions (312), passing yards (4,263), total offense yards (6,758), TDs (67) and points (528), as the Golden Eagles recorded nine wins, a Conference USA West title and a berth in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Washington.
Lindsey’s 2015 Golden Eagle offense ranked fifth in the nation in total TDs, seventh in total points, eighth in total passing yards and completions and 12th in points per game and passing yards per game. The national leader with 102 explosive plays, Southern Miss was just the second school in FBS history with a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and two 1,000-yard rushers.
“North Carolina just hit a home run in the hiring of Chip Lindsey,” Monken said Thursday in a statement. “He was with me at Southern Miss and was instrumental in us getting that program back on track. He is a perfect fit to build off the success UNC has had and take it to another level.”
Lindsey served as quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010, following a long and distinguished career as a prep coach in Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia (1997-2009) in football and baseball. At Troy, he coached the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Corey Robinson and helped guide the Trojans to their fifth consecutive Sun Belt Championship. Robinson set a school record for completions (321) that season while his 3,726 passing yards rank as the second most in Troy history. The Trojans totaled the second most passing touchdowns (33) and most completions (340) in a season in school history.