AUBURN, Ala. — It will be hard for Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn to find a new offensive coordinator whom he was as familiar with as Rhett Lashlee.
Lashlee played and coached for Malzahn at Springdale High School in Arkansas before following him to Arkansas State and then joining him during two successful periods on the Plains.
However, with Lashlee joining Randy Edsall’s staff at UConn on Wednesday night, it’s now a position Malzahn will have to fill quickly.
Rumors flew in the weeks leading up to Auburn’s Sugar Bowl appearance, causing several different names to come up as potential offensive coordinator options.
Here are six possible replacements who could be in the running to take over the Tigers’ offense:
Chip Lindsey, Arizona State offensive coordinator
Lindsey just finished his first year as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State after a strong two seasons at Southern Miss, but he’s an Alabama native with a high school coaching background. He also served as an offensive analyst during Auburn’s miraculous 2013 run to the final BCS title game.
Eliah Drinkwitz, NC State offensive coordinator
Drinkwitz also just finished his first year at a new job — the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State — after serving in the same capacity at mid-major power Boise State. The Arkansas native worked with Malzahn at Arkansas State and was on staff for Auburn’s 2010 title run.
Jake Spavital, Cal offensive coordinator
Spavital has been the offensive coordinator at Cal, but he has SEC experience, most notably as Johnny Manziel’s coach and coordinator at Texas A&M. He also coached with Malzahn and Herb Hand at Tulsa in 2008, when the Golden Hurricanes had one of the nation’s best offenses.
Art Briles, unemployed
The former Baylor head coach is a close friend of Malzahn, and they had similar career paths as former high school coaches with innovative offensive schemes. Briles’ dismissal from Baylor in the wake of the program’s sexual assault scandal would undoubtedly cause a firestorm of negative reaction, but it’s worth noting that new Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s former head coach has close ties to Malzahn.
Kendal Briles, FAU offensive coordinator
Stidham’s former offensive coordinator at Baylor — and Art’s son — would be an easier hire for Auburn to make than the elder Briles. Kendal Briles recently took a job as Lane Kiffin’s new offensive coordinator at FAU, but Auburn could convince him to jump to the Plains.
Dameyune Craig, LSU wide receivers coach
After spending several seasons on the Plains as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, Craig left for LSU in 2016. His knowledge and experience from his own successful time as an Auburn quarterback — he coached quarterbacks at Florida State before coming home to the Plains — could be exactly what the Tigers need to shape up their offensive woes.