Brian Kelly may have found his new offensive coordinator. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reports that the Irish will hire Memphis’ Chip Long, who worked under first-year head coach Mike Norvell and coordinated the No. 16 scoring offense in the country, averaging 38.8 points a game.
Long’s work in 2016 is more impressive when you consider that the Tigers needed to replace first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch. With junior college transfer Riley Ferguson, Memphis had the No. 14 passing offense in the country and averaged 6.25 yards per play, 35th best in the country.
A first-year coordinator who called plays this season, Long came with Norvell from Arizona State, where he worked under Todd Graham and served as the Sun Devils’ recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach. Long has also coached under Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. A former D-II All-American at North Alabama, Long earned recognition from both Rivals and 247 as one of the country’s Top 25 best recruiters.
While Notre Dame has yet to comment on the hire, here’s what Norvell said about Long when he announced his addition to the Memphis coaching staff before last season:
“Chip Long is, without a doubt, one of the brightest young offensive minds in the country,” Norvell said. “Coach Long and I have coached together the last four years at Arizona State, where Chip was our recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach.
“He’s going to direct an aggressive, ‘attack-style’ offense that will showcase our playmakers in every aspect of the game. He has been nationally recognized over the last four years as one of country’s top recruiters. Coach Long is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and has great ties to the region. He has coached in the SEC, Big East, Big Ten, as well as the Pac-12 and is a dynamic addition to our staff.”
Offensively, there are plenty of similarities between Kelly’s ideal offense and the system Long runs. In a near-term fit, the hire is very good news for Brandon Wimbush, a good offense for the first-year starter to take over and learn.
Feldman reports that Long agreed to a three-year deal to come to South Bend. Long could fill Mike Denbrock’s shoes as receivers coach as well, with Kelly potentially opting to hire a quarterbacks coach to complete his offensive staff.