Jackie Shipp’s history with Arizona State goes back 30 years.
The former Oklahoma Sooners linebacker lost his final collegiate game to ASU in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl.
“(Former Sun Devil) Jim Jeffcoat teases me about that all the time,” Shipp said laughing.
Shipp now finds himself at his friend’s alma mater, coaching the position Jeffcoat dominated from 1980-82 — the defensive line.
Hired in February, Shipp brings 22 years of college coaching experience with him to Todd Graham’s staff. The 51-year-old spent the last 14 years as Oklahoma’s defensive line coach.
“Heck, it was time for me to go, put it that way,” he said. “I was out the door” after Bob Stoops’ decided to shake-up his staff.
But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.
“I’ll tell you what, why here? I think Coach Graham and his coaching staff, in the short time I’ve been here, there’s a passion to win. There’s a passion for the players to develop. I think you’ve got a great place to recruit to now, getting young men on campus.
“I think Arizona State, especially when I was in school — I look at the players that came out of here in the ‘80s, that you can win here. The potential is great to have success.
“I think it’s a good fit.”
Shipp, who has coached in four national championship games including the 2001 National Championship win over Florida State, inherits a position group led by consensus First Team All-American Will Sutton.
“I’ve seen some guys getting better, but we still need to get better. We’re nowhere where we need to be,” Shipp said after a recent spring practice. “They’re making progress, but our whole group can be a lot better than what we are right now.”
His most immediate concern: stopping the run.
“First thing,” Shipp said, “get better in your fundamentals, in your technique and also your effort in playing physical and playing hard. If you use your fundamentals every play, that’s always going to give you the best advantage and best chance of stopping the run and defeating blocks and getting to the ball carrier.”
ASU’s rushing defense ranked 81st in the nation (182.85 yards/game) last season.