With Mike Norvell out for at least the Miami game because of a positive coronavirus test, deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will be leading the Seminoles. Here are five things to know about the 51-year-old:
Like Norvell, he’s a native Texan.
Thomsen is from Vernon, a town of 11,000 people just south of the Oklahoma border. He went to Abilene Christian and TCU and has coached at both programs, plus Texas Tech and Wichita Falls High. Add it all up, and 19 of his years as a coach have been in the Lone Star State.
He has ample head coaching experience.
Thomsen led Abilene Christian to a 51-21 record as the head coach from 2005-11. That stat doesn’t do him justice. The program had never made it to the Division II playoffs and hadn’t won a league title in almost three decades. He took them to the playoffs six times, won the Lone Star Conference title twice ('08 and ’10) and was the league’s coach of the year in four times.
He also has relevant Division I-A experience. After Tommy Tuberville left Texas Tech for Cincinnati after the 2012 regular season, Thomsen became the Red Raiders' interim coach. He led them to a 34-31 triumph over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
He has known Norvell for a long time.
Thomsen and Norvell go back at least to Norvell’s playing days; Thomsen was Central Arkansas' offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator from 2003-04, when Norvell was a receiver there. They were on the same Arizona State staff from 2013-15, too, with Norvell as the offensive coordinator and Thomsen as the offensive line coach.
He was involved in a historic offensive performance.
In the second round of the 2008 playoffs, Thomsen’s Abilene Christian team topped West Texas A&M 93-68. The 161 combined points are still the most in D-II history, as are the 1,531 combined yards of total offense. His team’s 13.8 yards per rush that game are also the most ever in a D-II game.
Thomsen was a two-sport star.
He was a successful football player (second-team All-America tight end for Abilene Christian in 1993), but baseball might have been his best sport. He was TCU’s male athlete of the year in 1991 after leading the Southwest Conference with 21 home runs and 70 RBI and ranking second with a .373 batting average. He was drafted by the A’s as a first baseman in the 17th round and spent two seasons in their farm system, advancing past A-ball.