By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Chip Lindsey’s job description as the head coach at Colbert Heights High School in 2005-06 will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever coached at a smaller school.
“Cut the grass. Cleaned the bathrooms. Cleaned the fieldhouse. Fundraised. Did it all,” said Lindsey, Auburn’s offensive coordinator. “That’s part of it when you’re in high school.”
A decade after leaving Colbert Heights, in Tuscumbia, Ala., to become the offensive coordinator at Hoover High School, Lindsey finds himself calling plays in the Southeastern Conference.
“Just really fortunate, blessed,” he said. “Being in the right place at the right time. Getting a chance to work with some really good people and some great players. That’s exciting. Being back here.”
Lindsey grew up in Madison, Ala., attending elementary school with his future wife, Cecily. Her family held Auburn season tickets for more than 30 years.
Lindsey followed his parents’ career path. His mom was a teacher. His dad, a high school coach.
“Growing up in that kind of family, my interest was obviously coaching and teaching,” he said.
Lindsey says his high school coaches - Ricky Sizemore, Robby Parker, Guy Bowling and Bobby Jackson – also influenced his decision.
“I say this all of the time: high school coaches are the most influential people in young people’s lives,” he said. “I believe that, because of the age you are when you’re there.”
One of the young people Lindsey influenced was former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2008 at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga.
“He was athletic, obviously, and could catch it, everybody knows that,” Lindsey said. “So we made sure he got plenty of balls thrown his way.”
A tight end with 1,000 receiving yards in high school is rare, but it fits the philosophy Lindsey shared when Auburn coach Gus Malzahn introduced him on Jan. 21.
“The most important thing is find ways to get the ball to your best players,” Lindsey told reporters. “It’s really that simple.”
In the 10 days since his hiring, Lindsey dove into Auburn’s recruiting efforts, reviewed video from last season with the Tigers’ offensive assistants and met individually with players.
“I believe it’s about relationships,” Lindsey said. “When I was a high school coach, that’s one of the things you do. You have a really good relationship with the starter, and the guy who never plays. Treat them all the same.
“And I want our players to know, and Coach Malzahn, the same deal, we believe in them. We care about them. I think it’s important for kids to know that.”
With spring practice starting in four weeks, the lights in Lindsey’s office will continue to be on late in the evening.
“Already started getting that done,” he said. “Plan spring practice and really get a chance to evaluate our players and be with those guys every day. I know who they are because I’m from this area of the country. We’ve got a really good group. I like them. Looking forward to getting to work with them.”
Lindsey, the offensive coordinator at Arizona State in 2016, is living out of a suitcase at The Hotel at Auburn University. Cecily will be arriving soon to begin the house-hunting process.
“It’s been a whirlwind. It’s fun,” Lindsey said. “It’s been a really good transition and it’s because of the people here at Auburn. My kids are really excited to be back at Auburn. They’re ready to move right now. We’re ready to get here and get settled.”
Lindsey served as Auburn’s offensive analyst in 2013 before getting his first college offensive coordinator job at Southern Miss in 2014.
“The first time I was here in 2013 was a magical year,” Lindsey said. “Just a lot of great memories of this place. Auburn is truly a special place. I’m looking forward to getting started on the next chapter.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer