Auburn AD reveals surprising detail of search for offensive coordinator

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SEC fans frequently hear about schools hiring search firms for head coaching and athletic director openings, but Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs felt it was necessary to hire a search firm to help determine the team’s new offensive coordinator.

Jacobs told Josh Vitale of the Opelika-Auburn News that the firm returned names of 20-to-25 candidates. Some of the rumored candidates included former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, Oklahoma State’s Mike Yurcich, Texas A&M’s Noel Mazzone and North Carolina State’s Eliah Drinkwitz, but coach Gus Malzahn ultimately went with former Arizona State OC Chip Lindsey.

“Gus went through those names and came to Chip, so that’s what where we ended up,” Jacobs said. “It’s important that Gus hires who he wants to hire. (I) look forward to great things with Chip, and our players are excited.”

During the search, there was a report that Malzahn and other athletic department officials clashed over whether the next offensive coordinator should be someone with a prior connection to Malzahn or an outsider. Jacobs says it was important for Malzahn to make the call on the new play-caller, Lindsey, who previously worked at Auburn as an analyst.

“It was important to Gus to get somebody that knew his system,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s important that if Gus finally puts down the headset and lets somebody else call the plays, that he has somebody that he can trust. I think that’s the most important thing.

“He has to make decisions what he thinks is best for this program, and I just don’t doubt at all that’s he’s done that.”

Lindsey was hired on Jan. 21, less than 24 hours after AL.com’s original report about the divide inside the Auburn athletic department. He was an analyst with Auburn in 2013 before taking the Southern Miss offensive coordinator position in 2014 and jumping to Arizona State in 2015. Malzahn will be giving Lindsey play-calling responsibilities.

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