For the first time in his career as a college coach, Jeremy Pruitt has no bowl game to prepare for. Much of Pruitt’s newfound free time has been spent searching for a new offensive coordinator after Tyson Helton left to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.
Sources told FootballScoop that Jeremy Pruitt’s top two candidates at this time are Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and NC State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz. We understand both are interested in the position.
Lindsey is a source of fascination not just because he’s a sitting coordinator at an SEC rival, but because Auburn officials are reportedly working to re-work Gus Malzahn’s contract to force him to retain Lindsey for a third season on the Plains. Like Pruitt, Lindsey is also a former Alabama high school coach — a period that runs parallel to Pruitt’s — working at seven different programs within the state (plus one in Georgia) before joining the college game full-time as an offensive analyst on Malzahn’s first Auburn team in 2013.
Lindsey served as the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss and Arizona State before returning to Auburn in 2017.
Should Lindsey ultimately be the choice here, he has 100,000 reasons to hold off on taking the job until Sunday.
Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey is set to receive a $100,000 retention bonus from Auburn should he be employed beyond this Saturday.
— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) November 27, 2018
Drinkwitz is in his third year at NC State and also has a connection with Malzahn after working under him as a quality control assistant at Auburn in 2010-11 and as his running backs coach at Arkansas State in 2012. After Malzahn left for Auburn ahead of the 2013 season, Drinkwitz remained behind at Arkansas State under Bryan Harsin in 2013, then worked with him for two seasons at Boise State, first as tight ends coach and then as offensive coordinator.
Like Pruitt and Lindsey, Drinkwitz also got his start in the high school ranks, spending five years at two Arkansas high schools.
Other candidates could emerge as the search develops, and Pruitt could turn to an internal candidate should he not find the right match externally, sources said.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.