Tennessee’s search for an offensive coordinator to replace Tyson Helton is still in the early stages, but some names have begun to emerge as more serious candidates for the vacancy. And according to one reporter, one of those names is a current play-caller in the SEC.
Per long-time Knoxville reporter John Brice of Gridiron Now, Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is “strongly in the mix” for UT’s offensive coordinator opening. Lindsey has been the offensive coordinator for Auburn the past two seasons and has been the OC for Arizona State and Southern Miss as well. Brice also adds that former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze “remains possible” as an option as well.
Continue to be told that Auburn’s Chip Lindsey is strongly in the mix for #Vols OC. Was told this a.m. Freeze remains “possible.” Top names I’ve heard throughout the day from multiple folks
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) November 28, 2018
Lindsey was brought back to Auburn prior to the 2017 season to serve as their offensive coordinator. He had been an offensive analyst for the Tigers in 2013 previously. Lindsey also coached at Hoover High School in 2007, the same high school Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt coached at.
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In Lindsey’s first year with Auburn, the Tigers experienced a great deal of success. Auburn became just the eighth team in SEC history to rush and pass for 3,000 yards in a season, ranked 26th nationally in total offense, and set a program record by scoring 327 points in SEC play in 2017.
This year, however, Auburn’s offense has struggled mightily.
Auburn currently ranks 10th in the SEC in points per game and 11th in offensive yards per game. They’re also 11th in third down conversion percentage and are 10th in red zone scoring efficiency. Vol fans got to see some of the Tigers’ issues on display this season when Tennessee went down to The Plains and pulled off a 30-24 upset.
Lindsey had success in his one year as Arizona State’s OC in 2016 before they lost three quarterbacks to injury in one season. He helped Southern Miss set school records in 2015 and coached the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 in quarterback Nick Mullens. The former Golden Eagle star is now starting at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.
Right now, Lindsey’s future at Auburn is up in the air. Head coach Gus Malzahn is expected to sign a new contract that would reduce his buyout, and it’s unsure how that wold affect the contract of his assistants at this time. It’s believed, however, that any other coaching moves on Malzahn’s staff would have to be “revenue-neutral,” meaning Lindsey can’t be forced out.
If Lindsey ends up staying at Auburn, Brice reports that Hugh Freeze is still “possible,” though Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported on Monday that Freeze is “not in the mix” for the Vols’ offensive coordinator position as of right now.
We will keep you up to date as soon as any other information becomes available. And you can check out our full list of potential candidates here.