On Saturday, it was announced that Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell had tested positive for coronavirus and will be missing the primetime rivalry matchup vs. Miami-Florida Hurricanes.
Deputy head coach and offensive assistant Chris Thomsen will assume head coaching duties in Norvell’s absence — a name not instantly familiar with some Seminole fans.
So who is Thomsen? A man of many hats, who has had the opportunity to work with Norvell before, the architect behind a successful offensive line while at TCU Horned Frogs (where he played football and baseball) and as head coach and build up a Division II program in Abilene Christian in Texas, making the playoffs six straight years after the program had never before qualified.
We spoke with Thomsen earlier this summer, where he detailed his coaching philosophy and approach.
“Every day we come in, there’s more volume of information,” he said of teaching the players. “There’s always a good amount of information that’s new to them. All these guys are very smart and they want to be challenged mentally.”
“The chemistry of the [offensive coaching staff] has been really, really good. All those guys are very professional.”
Here’s his full bio from when he was hired:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chris Thomsen has been named Florida State’s deputy head coach and offensive assistant, head coach Mike Norvell announced Thursday.
“I am extremely excited about the addition of Chris Thomsen to the Florida State football family as my deputy head coach and offensive assistant,” Norvell said. “Coach Thomsen has extensive experience developing NFL players throughout his career at a variety of positions from head coach, offensive line, tight ends and running backs. He brings a relentless work ethic in recruiting, which has allowed him to be one of the top recruiters in the country and one of the best that I’ve ever been around. I have seen this as a player when I was at Central Arkansas and working side-by-side with him at Arizona State. Chris will be a tremendous asset to our staff as well as aiding me as our deputy head coach.”
Thomsen comes to Tallahassee following three years coaching the offensive line at TCU, his alma mater. He was the head coach at Abilene Christian from 2005-11 and also has experience as an assistant at Arizona State, Texas Tech and Central Arkansas.
“My wife LeAnn and I are excited about the opportunity to join Coach Norvell and the rest of the staff at Florida State,” Thomsen said. “We look forward to serving the student-athletes at Florida State, as well as the Tallahassee community, in any way we can.”
During his three years at TCU, Thomsen directed one of the top offensive lines in the country and coached five all-conference performers. The Horned Frogs led the Big 12 in fewest sacks allowed in each of his first two seasons, averaging 1.23 sacks allowed per game in 2018 and 1.29 in 2017 to rank 14th and 19th, respectively, in the country. The 2019 line paved the way for the Horned Frogs to average 204.0 rushing yards per game.
Thomsen made an immediate impact in the 2017 season as the Horned Frogs played in the Big 12 Championship Game and won 11 games behind an offensive line that placed all four seniors into the NFL. Joseph Noteboom was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams, while Matt Pryor was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Additionally, Patrick Morris and Austin Schlottmann signed free-agent contracts and are both on the Denver Broncos active roster.
Thomsen mentored Lucas Niang to All-Big 12 honors in 2018 after the junior started all 13 games and did not allow a sack the entire season. Niang was a preseason All-Big 12 selection and had started 27 career games at right tackle before undergoing season-ending surgery in October of 2019. The 2019 season featured an offensive line blocking for the sixth-best red zone offense in the country, led by senior guard Cordel Iwuagwu returning from an injury that cost him most of 2018 to earn All-Big 12 accolades.
Thomsen was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Arizona State from 2013-16, spending the first three years with Sun Devils’ offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and helping lead ASU to the 2013 Pac-12 Championship Game. Their 2014 offense gained 5,750 yards, 3,556 of those through the air, and ranked 13th in the nation with 34 touchdown passes. The 2013 team’s average of 39.7 points per game ranked 10th nationally.
Thomsen coached five different Sun Devil linemen to All-Pac 12 recognition. Three of his linemen were drafted as Jamil Douglas was a fourth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2015, Christian Westerman went to the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and Sam Jones was a sixth-round selection by the Denver Broncos in 2018. Additionally, Quinn Bailey is a rookie with the Broncos this season.
Prior to his time in Tempe, Thomsen spent the 2012 campaign as the offensive line coach at Texas Tech. That year, Texas Tech led the Big 12 and ranked second nationally in passing with an average of 355.9 yards per game. He was named interim head coach for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and led the Red Raiders to a 34-31 win over Minnesota. He coached Indianapolis Colts third-round pick Le’Raven Clark and free-agent signee LaAdrian Waddle who started as a rookie in 2013 for the Detroit Lions and is in his seventh season in the NFL in 2019.
During Thomsen’s time as the head coach at Abilene Christian, he led the Wildcats to a 51-21 record and six straight trips to the Division II playoffs with the 2008 team advancing to the quarterfinal round. He was a four-time Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year, receiving the honor in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. ACU won Lone Star Conference championships in 2008 and 2010, winning 11 games both seasons. Prior to his arrival, the Wildcats had never played in the Division II playoffs and had not won a conference championship since 1977.
In the second round of the 2008 playoffs, Thomsen oversaw one of the most prolific offensive games in NCAA history. His team defeated West Texas A&M 93-68 as the teams combined to break 45 Division II records. That year, the Wildcats led the NCAA with 558.8 yards per game and 52.3 points per game. In 2007, Abilene Christian ranked first in Division II with an average of 49.2 points per game and second with 544.8 yards per game.
Thomsen had five draft picks at Abilene Christian. Danieal Manning was picked in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, becoming the highest ACU pick since 1977 and the first non-division I player taken in 2006. Johnny Knox was a fifth-round selection by Chicago in 2009 and Bernard Scott, who earned the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II’s MVP in 2008, was taken in 2009’s sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Clyde Gates was a fourth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2011, and Daryl Richardson was taken in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams in 2012.
Before becoming the head coach at Abilene Christian, Thomsen served as Central Arkansas’ offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator in 2003 and 2004. He began his coaching career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at Abilene Christian, before spending two seasons as the offensive line coach and one as the defensive line coach. He was named the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator in 1998. After spending one season away from football, he got back into coaching as the offensive coordinator at Wichita Falls High School in 2001 and 2002.
Thomsen played football and baseball at TCU, lettering for the Horned Frogs on the gridiron from 1988-90 and on the diamond in 1991. During his lone season with the baseball team, he earned All-Southwest Conference, All-America and TCU Male Athlete of the Year honors after nearly hitting for the triple crown. He led the SWC with 21 home runs and 70 RBI, while his .373 batting average was second. Thomsen was selected in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Oakland Athletics and played two seasons in Oakland’s minor league system.
After retiring from baseball, he returned to play one season on the football team at Abilene Christian. He was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Lone Star Conference tight end for the Wildcats in 1993.
Thomsen earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from TCU in 1993 and completed a master’s degree in secondary education from Abilene Christian in 2000.
Chris Thomsen Coaching History
Dec. 2019- Florida State Deputy Head Coach
2017-19 TCU Offensive Line Coach
2013-16 Arizona State Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach
2012 Texas Tech Offensive Line Coach
2005-11 Abilene Christian Head Coach
2003-04 Central Arkansas Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
2001-02 Wichita Falls High School (Texas) Offensive Coordinator
1998-99 Abilene Christian Offensive Coordinator
1997 Abilene Christian Defensive Line Coach
1995-96 Abilene Christian Offensive Line Coach
1994 Abilene Christian Graduate Assistant