Arizona State head coach Todd Graham has picked assistant Chip Long to be his recruiting coordinator and tight ends/h-backs coach. Here's an interview with Long.
ASUDevils.com: Coach Paul Petrino he is like a mentor to you. Can you just talk about that whole relationship and what he has mean to your career so far?
Chip Long: Well you know the both of them (Paul and brother Bobby) have meant a whole lot. I started my career under them. They hired me right out of college, right when I got to Louisville, and then when to Arkansas with them at a young age. They gave me a position at maybe 24 years old and let me coach when I was still a [graduate assistant]. They really took care of me and at the same time were really hard on me. But that kind of taught me the business and how to coach and how to be a teacher, and how important everything is. And then Paul goes to Illinois and brings me along, gives me my first job so I owe as much to him as anyone. He has been like a big brother to me, to be honest with you, always looking out for me. And it was a lot of fun working with him.
ASUDevils.com: What were some of the major lessons you learned from him as far as coaching or recruiting or whatever?
Long: Passion. You've got to have passion with everything you do. Fly around the practice field; chase the players all over the place, and coach like you were playing. Every single day, attention to detail. Don't ever be stagnate, you are always learning. Always learning new ideas, applying, always learning a new way to teach things. Be proactive, never just be sitting there. That is stuff I learned from both Bob and Paul. Just constant learning and out work everybody.
ASUDevils.com: You were a really good player, all decade team for your conference at (Division II) North Alabama. That has to help a lot when you are coaching guys, can you talk about how it is being able to talk from that sort of perspective? With teaching and buying in, and all of that.
Long: Right. The players are going to listen a little harder to you when you have experienced what they are experiencing. They are going to listen and they're going to have a little bit more confidence in your teaching when they know you actually have done it. When you are teaching a certain position you can have experience with watching years of guys on film but if you played the position, and played it at a high [level] and played it well then they are going to listen to it and buy in a whole lot faster. So that's where I think that really helps. And you just know the nuances of the position and how you can do certain steps this way to help you..but there is no doubt, you can't replace experience.
ASUDevils.com: At the positions you coach, tight-end, h-back, fullback or whatever they might be, what are the main things you are looking for in terms of identifying the types of guys you want to have underneath you?
Long: Size is always important and No. 1 I want them to be physical. You want them to have a physical mindset because if they have a physical mindset then you are going to be a great route runner, you're going to catch the ball in traffic, you are going to enjoy contact, you're going to expect it and make the plays when you do get hit. It is a physical, physical game. And then everything else, you have to be a great blacker, a great pass protector, and you just need to be a great football player. So No. 1 you want them to be physical. It is always easier to coach and tell them 'whoa' then tell them to stick them. So that without a doubt and then No. 2 I want them to be athletic, I want them to be able to run, and stretch the field and make plays. Because I can teach them to be a great blocker if they're physical but I want them to have ball skills and be able to do things and dominate the middle of the field and be a vertical threat down the field.
ASUDevils.com: "This is new to you as far as being with Coach (Todd) Graham and for what the offense is going to be like here, can you just talk about how you see the players that you coach and their specific roles in this offense?
Long: I am extremely excited. I played in a no huddle offense in college. I am really excited. And what we call the 'three back' we will be able to put him all over the place and create miss-matches [with] formations and personnel. We will be able to move him. We can line him up at receiver. in the back field, on the line of scrimmage, all over the place, and it will be fast so we won't have to substitute and you will still have a tight-end for the run game. The multiple variations you can use with them are to your advantage and that is really, really exciting.
ASUDevils.com: This offense is going to be extremely multiple but you guys have your basic type stuff that you like to run with different looks. Is that your interpretation of it?
Long: That is pretty close to being accurate. We want to get as many plays as we possibly can. Coach Graham does a great job explaining it, as he always says we want to get plays, plays, as many plays as we can get. You've got a whole bunch of concepts and we can just run them a million different ways. We do have a good bit of offense so you have to have to have smart players and well conditioned players to be able to function and focus and play hard when they are tired. I cannot wait to get into it and run their system. I am excited.
ASUDevils.com: So now you've watched film on some of the guys who are coming back do you have any initial thoughts on what you have to work with and what those guys are going to be like?
Long: Yeah you know Christopher Coyle, he is obviously hurt (shoulder) but he did a lot of good things (on film). You know they just didn't use a tight end here (under previous staff) so it's still somewhat of an unknown. So I have a mixture of guys and I just have to find out what each one of them are good at and obviously put them in a situation where they can have success, until we work on the things that they struggle on a little bit. Darwin Rogers, watching his film coming in, a junior college player out of Arizona Western, he does a lot of good things and has size so you know I am really excited. They are all on the same level playing field. They have a clean slate so it is really exciting and I feel pretty good about it.
ASUDevils.com: How have those guys responded to your initial dialog?
Long: Good. They have done a great job so far. It is still early the grind hasn't really picked up yet. But they all come up here everyday and talk with me, chat with me. You see a new bounce in their step, a look in their eye, an excitement, which is always good.
ASUDevils.com: Now, Coach Graham, he talked about how you were going to be the recruiting coordinator, this is the first time you have had the responsibility, can you just talk about what your goals or mission is in that responsibility and how you want to accomplish it and what your will be.
Long: "It all starts at the top. Any time you have a head coach you can sell, not only the university, but we can sell coach Graham; his vision, his passion, his work ethic. He's been a winner everywhere he's been and he started from high school and worked all the way up. That's rare; that's special. So you can sell him, the type of man he his, his character, his faith. When you can walk in the a home and sell the head coach like that you are ahead of the game. Just from his vision and mine we want to dominate Phoenix. We want to take the best and the brightest, year in and year out. Then we want to dominate Arizona and then we want to get in to [Los Angeles] and then California branches off that and then obviously our coaches have other contacts from multiple other states. "For too long now, the best players in this state and this area have left and our goal is for that to end," said Chip Long, ASU's first-year recruiting coordinator. "Now you're going to lose one or two every year but we want the best and brightest to be here to build a culture of excitement this community can get around. That's how you win championships. Those kids are going to play the hardest in the fourth quarter because that is where they are from. That kind of brings be back down south to where I played, kids that play for their state are going to fight for it. And that is what we want to create around here, and that is a process but it is real exciting.
ASUDevils.com: You're the recruiting coordinator. In the past at ASU there has been one or two coaches assigned to the Phoenix territory, what's your approach coaching to be as a staff?
Long: Our three coordinators or co-coordinators are going to be in Arizona, that is how important it is to us. (Offensive coordinator Mike) Norvell, (anticipated Co-Defensive Coordinator Paul) Randolph and myself with all of Phoenix sectioned off and then I will have most of the rest of the state. Every coach will have a number of schools but I will have most of the state of Arizona.
ASUDevils.com: Do you have an suspicions as to why, because you made a great point that most top guys typically leave the state (in recent years), do you have any ideas why there is a higher percentage of guys who have left as opposed to staying over time here?
Long: No I really don't. I haven't gotten the pulse of why that might happen. You know it is hard (to know); when you walk into high schools now everybody is excited, I might be a guy they haven't seen in a long time. I couldn't really tell you to be honest why they have left; every player has their different reasons. But we want to give them a reason to stay here and play for their home state school, their hometown.
ASUDevils.com: Talk about Arizona State, what made you excited to come here? To work for coach Graham? At ASU? And now that you have had a little time what are your thoughts about the place?
First of all this unbelievable this is paradise. You come from the cold and come out here, you couldn't ask for a better place. I have always been intrigued by coach Graham,, I really have. Me and coach Norvell, we played against each other in college and then when he was in Tulsa and I was in Arkansas we were able to keep a good friendship. If I ever had the opportunity to work with him I would and it just happened a lot sooner than I'd imagined. I was able to interview with Coach Graham and he is everything that I believe in football. Just your commitment, your discipline, and that is what I like. He wants you to coach hard, fly around, get after your players, and bring a passion and an excitement to your job everyday. And that's fun, that's not work. And that is what is so exciting; the energy here is going to be evident. You know it is early but that is just going to be our standards. We are not going to deviate from that, because you can't. You have to keep it there and keep getting better and better and that is how Coach Graham is. He wants every coach on his staff to inspire him, as he inspires us. So it is fun to work for a guy like that. His vision and his passion is evident. You don't rise to the ranks like that this fast without knowing a lot about football, and being good at what you do. And then the new system, I was a part of one of the best offensive systems year in and year out under Coach Petrino. And now I get to take what I learned from that and learn this one. It is real exciting and I can't wait to jump into it. There were a lot of things that were just great and being in this place, this place in unbelievable. We should never lose a kid; he is going to have a great visit, from everything it has to offer from academics to athletics it is a special place.