Football Coaching Staff
Erik Chinander
Defensive Coordinator
Coach Info:
Position: Defensive Coordinator
Alma Mater: Iowa
Graduating Year: 2003


  • 2016 Broyles Award Nominee (Nation's Top Assistant Coach)

Erik Chinander is in his second season as Nebraska's defensive coordinator in 2019 and his fourth consecutive season in that role under Scott Frost. Recognized as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches with a nomination for the Broyles Award in 2016, Chinander has been on the staff of one FCS (Northern Iowa) and two FBS (Oregon) teams that have played in the national championship game. Chinander boasts 10 seasons of experience, and he has coached with Frost each of the last five seasons, serving as Frost's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons.

In 2018, Nebraska held a pair of opponents to single digits for the first time in six seasons, and the Blackshirts showed marked improvement in several areas. The Huskers improved by 26 spots in the national scoring defense rankings and NU improved its pass efficiency defense by 61 spots. Nebraska nearly doubled its sack total from the 2017 season and forced its most turnovers in four seasons. The Huskers also broke up 58 passes in 2018, the ninth-highest total in program history. Individually, Chinander's defense produced five all-conference honorees, which was one more selection than the Nebraska defense had earned in the previous three seasons combined.

Chinander came to Lincoln after leading a dramatic defensive turnaround in his two seasons at UCF. Chinander inherited a Knight defense that had allowed 37.7 points per game in 2015 and two years later, UCF lowered that average to 25.3 points per game, allowing nearly two fewer touchdowns per game. Chinander also helped UCF improve its national ranking in scoring defense by 65 spots in his two seasons.

A trademark of Chinander’s UCF defense was creating takeaways. The Knights forced 58 turnovers in 26 games in Chinander’s two seasons, ranking second nationally in takeaways in 2017 and 18th in 2016. The 58 takeaways over the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined ranked third nationally, and UCF was one of only six teams to force 25 turnovers both seasons and one of just eight teams to rank in the top 20 nationally in takeaways in both 2016 and 2017.

In helping the Knights to a perfect 13-0 season and a conference title in 2017, Chinander’s defense played a major role in UCF’s 11-0 regular season, the first perfect regular season in school and American Athletic Conference history. UCF led the AAC in defensive touchdowns and ranked third in the AAC in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.

Individually, six Knights earned all-conference accolades, including a league-high four first-team honorees. Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who was on the preseason watch list for several national defensive honors including the Butkus Award, was the only player in the conference to be a unanimous All-AAC selection. Cornerback Mike Hughes, a first-year transfer from Garden City Community College, earned second-team All-America honors in 2017, becoming the Knights’ first All-American in four seasons.

Hughes (first round), the highest defensive draft pick in school history, and Griffin (fifth round) were also selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Their selections marked just the second time in school history that UCF had multiple defensive players drafted.

In his first season at UCF, the defense was the key to Central Florida leading the nation with a six-win improvement from the 2015 to 2016 season. The Knights ranked in the top 10 nationally in four defensive categories and in the top 25 in nine categories. UCF was second nationally in red zone defense, third in defensive touchdowns, sixth in third-down defense, ninth in tackles for loss, 12th in pass efficiency defense, 17th in sacks, 18th in turnovers forced, 22nd in interceptions and 24th in fumbles recovered. Griffin was the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after ranking ninth nationally in tackles for loss (20.0) and 11th in sacks (11.5). He was also a first-team all-conference selection as a total of four Knights earned All-American Athletic Conference accolades.

UCF marked Chinander’s first defensive coordinator job. Previously, he coached the outside linebackers at Oregon in 2014 and 2015, when Frost was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. Chinander’s linebackers helped Oregon play in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2014. Chinander also served as a defensive graduate assistant at Oregon in 2011 and 2012, when the Ducks ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, and as an intern in 2010.
In Chinander’s five total seasons on the Duck staff, Oregon posted a 58-10 record, won three conference titles and twice played for the national championship.

In between his two stints at Oregon, Chinander gained NFL experience by serving as the assistant defensive line coach on Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles staff in 2013. With the Eagles, Chinander worked as an assistant to defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro and helped with game and practice plans, coordinating the scout teams and evaluating current and future personnel. The Eagles won the NFC East that season with a 10-6 record.

Previously, Chinander served as an offensive assistant, coaching the tight ends at Northern Iowa for six seasons from 2004 to 2009, including two seasons when Frost was on the Panther staff (2007 and 2008). In addition to coaching the tight ends, Chinander assisted with the defensive and specialist scout teams. He also made a huge impact in the Panthers’ recruiting, helping UNI win three conference titles and make three appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, including a runner-up finish in 2005 and a semifinal appearance in 2008.

In his first coaching stop in 2003, Chinander was the offensive and defensive line coach for Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, where he also coordinated the strength and conditioning programs for football and men’s and women’s basketball. The Panthers finished second in the region and three of his players garnered first-team, all-region accolades.

As a player, Chinander was a walk-on offensive lineman for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1998 to 2002. As a senior, Iowa shared the Big Ten title and earned a spot in the Orange Bowl. Chinander received the Hawkeyes’ Offensive Team Leader Award that season. Originally from Allison, Iowa, Erik and his wife, Megan, have two daughters, Penelope and Sophia.

Coaching Experience
2018-present: Nebraska, Defensive Coordinator
2016-17: Central Florida, Defensive Coordinator
2014-15: Oregon, Assistant Coach (Outside Linebackers)
2013: Philadelphia Eagles, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2011-12: Oregon, Defensive Graduate Assistant
2010: Oregon, Intern
2004-09: Northern Iowa, Assistant Coach (Tight Ends)
2003: Ellsworth (Iowa) CC, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line/Defensive Line)