TROY – Until this week, Chip Lindsey may have been in Troy for only the 2010 football season, but he knew enough at his introductory press conference on Friday to talk about three coaches who have been impactful both with the Trojans and on himself.
Larry Blakeney, Neal Brown and baseball coach Bobby Pierce – who attended the press conference – all came up in Lindsey’s remarks.
The new head coach was a happy career high school coach before Larry Blakeney hired him after the 2009 season.
“Coach Blakeney hired me. When he did, I couldn’t believe it. I was in college football,” Lindsey said. “We walked out on the field and he said, ‘Chip, tell me what your dreams are, tell me what you want to do one day.’ I said, ‘I want to be the head football coach at Troy when you retire.’ He said, ‘Well, I ain’t retiring no time soon.’”
Lindsey said that conversation included three pieces of advice from Blakeney that the new head coach has carried with him ever since.
First, that Troy is a special place – not because the Trojans were winning back then, but because of the people.
Lindsey, remember, a newcomer at the time, admitted being skeptical.
“After spending time here and building some relationships, he’s exactly right,” Lindsey said. “That’s what makes this place special. It’s not about the brick and mortar all the time, it’s about the people in it. I think that was a huge learning point for me at that time in my career.”
Blakeney also reminded Lindsey that the coaches, athletic administrators and the support staff are here for the players first.
“What’s the best thing for our players?” Lindsey said. “Every decision we make, how does it affect our players? Is it the best thing for our guys? They see that, they feel that and you’re going to get more out of them.”
Blakeney also reminded Lindsey to always treat people right, to treat everyone in the building the way you want to be treated.
“Those are three really simple things that he shared with me,” Lindsey said. “It wasn’t Xs and Os. It was about treating people. And in leadership positions, I think you have to remember the basic things in life. … I remember him standing out there telling me that. Took it with me everywhere I went.”
As for Brown, Lindsey said the two had been friends for a long time.
“Neal’s great. I was a little older than him. We always stayed in touch,” he said. “We visited in the offseason, traded ideas. Not just plays, but the way you handle your program. The way you organize your program. He’s been a huge influence.”
He didn’t run away from the success Brown brought to the program – three straight 10-win seasons, each of which ended with a bowl victory. Instead, Lindsey said he embraces that standard and wants to raise the bar. He also credited Brown and his staff for recruiting great talent.
“We’re going to recruit Alabama first. I think Neal and his staff did an unbelievable job of doing that. I would see them out when I was recruiting,” he said. “We’ve got to turn over every rock and find those guys that we can develop and steal a few of those guys and get them to come to Troy. They’ve got options, but we’ve got a great product to sell. We’re going to do that.”
Lindsey talked about his early years as a high school coach. He started in baseball for a reason, he said.
“They’ll give you an opportunity when you’re young because there’s not a lot of money in it and nobody else wants to do it,” Lindsey said. “A principal hired me one time he said, ‘You got the job. Nobody else wanted it. So, good luck.’”
That led to his connection with Pierce. He would occasionally watch Pierce’s UAH teams practice – and apparently his vocabulary grew larger in the process.
“A couple of my friends played for him. I really learned a lot of things from just going to his practices and watching them. And I learned some things I probably wouldn’t want to say, but I learned some good things,” Lindsey teased, drawing laughter from a huge crowd of Troy supporters in the Stadium Club. “I’m kidding.
“He was unbelievable. He did an unbelievable job motivating his players. It wasn’t just about coaching baseball, but it was about he led that group.”
The laughter had almost died down when Pierce piped up, “You picked the right sport.”
Lindsey didn’t make a lot of promises on Friday. He and Brown share similar – but not identical – offensive philosophies.
“The one thing I’ll say is we’re going to play a fun and exciting brand of football,” he said. “I hope you can casually watch us play and really not see a lot of difference in the style. That’s really what my goal is. That’s why I want to make sure we have the opportunity to retain some (coaches). I want our players to have a smooth transition.”