Chris Simpson - Football - Kansas Jayhawks

Chris Simpson

TITLE Assistant Coach - Linebackers
PHONE 864-3392


Chris Simpson is in his third season at Kansas, coaching linebackers for the Jayhawks on head coach Lance Leipold’s staff.

Simpson has helped the Jayhawks to back-to-back bowl games for only the second time in program history, as the 2023 season was another step forward for Kansas Football. The Jayhawks had a two-win improvement in the regular season, finishing 8-4 to secure a winning record for the first time since 2008, while the eight wins are the most by KU in the regular season since 2007.

In 2023, Simpson’s linebacker room was led by senior Rich Miller, who ranked second on the team with 56 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, and newcomer JB Brown, who was close behind with 54 stops, 6.0 tackles for loss and two sacks.

In 2022, Simpson assisted as the Jayhawks qualified for a bowl game for the first time since 2008 and reached the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2009. Kansas started the season 5-0 and hosted ESPN’s College Gameday for the first time in program history.

Leading his linebacker group in 2022 was Rich Miller, who ranked second on the team with 94 tackles, while also totaling three tackles for loss, one sack and one interception.

Simpson came to Kansas from Buffalo where he was on Leipold’s staff for six seasons, also coaching linebackers. In 2020, he was promoted to co-defensive coordinator.

Under Simpson, Buffalo linebackers were one of the most consistent units on the team. At least one linebacker has been named All-MAC in each of Simpson’s six seasons at Buffalo. In 2020, Buffalo middle linebacker James Patterson was a first-team All-MAC selection after leading the team in tackles and captaining a UB squad that led the MAC in total defense. In 2019, outside linebacker Kadofi Wright was an All-MAC Third Team selection. Middle linebacker Matt Otwinowski was named Academic All-MAC for the third time in 2019. The Bulls defense finished the season ranked seventh nationally in total defense and fourth nationally in rushing defense.

Simpson helped develop Khalil Hodge, arguably the best middle linebacker to ever play at Buffalo. In only three seasons, Hodge recorded 421 tackles, the third-highest total in school history. In 2018, three of the team’s four leading tacklers were linebackers, including Hodge (144), James Patterson (77) and Jordan Collier (56).

In 2017, Hodge had one of the finest seasons by a linebacker in school history. The junior middle linebacker had an FBS-era record 154 tackles on the year to lead the MAC and rank second in the nation. Hodge was named All-MAC First Team for his efforts.

In 2016, for the second-straight season, Simpson’s linebackers were the top three leading tacklers on the team. Hodge had a huge season for the Bulls, finishing with 123 tackles, the eighth most in school history for a single season and the second most in Buffalo’s FBS era.

In 2015, Simpson’s first season, the top three tacklers on the team were linebackers and for the first time since 2008, the Bulls had two different players with more than 100 tackles as Nick Gilbo finished with 113 and Brandon Berry had 104. Berry was named All-MAC Second Team and Okezie Alozie was named third-team all-league.

Prior to Buffalo, Simpson was the outside linebackers coach at Eastern Michigan in 2014.

Before his stop at EMU, Simpson spent the previous four seasons as linebackers coach at Grand Valley State in in Allendale, Mich.. Grand Valley posted a 39-11 record and four Division II playoff victories. Simpson also tutored six All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) performers during that span.

Grand Valley closed the 2013 football campaign ranked third in the final American Football Coaches Association poll. The Lakers advanced to the NCAA DII National Semifinals for the eighth time after knocking off undefeated and No. 3 ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Senior linebacker Jordan Kaufman received second team All-GLIAC honors after leading the squad in tackles with 87, while also recording eight tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and returning a blocked field goal 56 yards for a score. Also earning honorable mention league honors for GVSU were senior linebackers Charles Hill and Luther Ware.

His 2011 linebacking unit was a key component in a Laker defense that ended the year among the GLIAC leaders. GVSU led the league in tackles for loss (93) and sacks (36), while ranking second in scoring defense (20.2). GVSU limited opponents to 15.5 points per game in its last five games that season.

Simpson’s linebacking unit helped the Laker defense rank nationally in several categories, including the top 20 in tackles for loss and sacks in 2010. Ware and Justin Victor earned All-GLIAC accolades during the 2010 campaign.

Simpson arrived at GVSU following a two-year stint at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he coached the defensive line. The Mavericks were 14-9 with one appearance in the NCAA DII playoffs during his time on the staff.

Simpson spent five years at Division III national power Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was an assistant coach in charge of the linebackers. UWW was 42-3 his final three seasons with three-straight NCAA DIII National Championship game appearances and three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crowns. The Warhawks claimed the 2007 National Championship in Leipold’s first year at the school.

In addition, Simpson coached two years (1999-2000) at Waunakee (Wis.) High School, one year (2001) at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, as a graduate assistant and one year (2002) at Wisconsin-Platteville. In the summer of 2006, Simpson was selected as a participant at the NCAA Men’s Football Coaches Academy.

He also has received an NFL Minority Coaching Internship on six occasions, from the Green Bay Packers for defensive line and special teams in the summer of 2006, in 2007 with the Dallas Cowboys, in 2008 with the Carolina Panthers, in 2009 with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns and in 2013 with the Detroit Lions.

Simpson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin-Whitewater in physical education in 1998. He earned his master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2004.

Simpson and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Jarryn, Riley and Noah. Riley currently plays defensive back at Grand Valley State.

The Simpson File
Alma Mater: Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1998
Wife: Nicole
Children: Jarryn, Riley and Noah

Coaching Experience 
2015-21BuffaloLinebackers/Co-Defensive Coordinator
2014Eastern MichiganLinebackers
2010-13Grand Valley StateLinebackers
2008-10Nebraska-OmahaAssistant Coach
2003-07Wisconsin-WhitewaterAssistant Coach
2002Wisconsin-PlattevilleAssistant Coach
2001Loras CollegeGraduate Assistant
1999-2000Waunakee (Wisc.) HSAssistant Coach

 Bowl Game Experience 
2023Guaranteed Rate BowlKansas
2022AutoZone Liberty BowlKansas
2020Camelia BowlBuffalo
2019Bahamas BowlBuffalo
2018Dollar General BowlBuffalo