Columbia football’s search for a new defensive coordinator has ended, as the program announced Thursday evening that Chris Rippon will take the job.
Rippon comes to Columbia after three seasons at Marshall University, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
“Chris’s background fits well with our team philosophy,” head coach Pete Mangurian said in a statement. “He is committed to making this transition easy for our players, which is very easy to say and hard to do.”
Though it will be his first stint in the Ivy League, Rippon has a long history of coaching in college football. He started off as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Western Connecticut State in the early ’80s, before being named defensive coordinator in 1984. He was promoted to head coach there in 1987—a job he kept for three years before becoming defensive coordinator at Boston University.
From there, Rippon had a long stint at Syracuse from 1993 to 2005, serving in a variety of roles—linebackers coach, defensive ends coach, special teams coordinator, and defensive coordinator—before moving on to become special teams and defensive backs coach at Ole Miss in 2005. He stayed for three seasons, before moving on to Rutgers to become its special teams coordinator for the 2008 season.
Rippon replaces Kevin Lempa, who accepted the defensive backs coach position at Boston College early this month. During Lempa’s one season as coordinator, the defense improved from last to fourth in the Ancient Eight in total defense, surrendering 373.5 yards per game in the 2012 season. The secondary and passing defense, in particular, significantly improved, giving up 221.9 yards through the air after surrendering 249.6 in 2011.
“It was inevitable that he would get a better opportunity. It was just a matter of when,” Mangurian wrote of Lempa on his blog Feb. 12. “I wanted two years, but it was Boston College that came looking, a place that Kevin had been twice before, and a place that was closer to his family.”
Mangurian also wrote in a post on Thursday that the defensive calls will remain the same under Rippon, so as to keep the players using the same language.
“Chris will not only fit in, but will reinforce our message to the players,” Mangurian wrote. “We will accept nothing but our best from each other, and every decision will be based upon what is best for the team.”