AUBURN, Ala. — After a turbulent season on the Plains, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is saying goodbye.
Following an initial report from Bruce Feldman on Wednesday night, the University of Connecticut made the news official on Twitter. Lashlee will take over the same position on the sidelines in Storrs with a three-year deal worth $350,000 per year under Huskies coach Randy Edsall.
Lashlee was being paid $600,000 per year at Auburn, with his contract ending in 2018.
Welcome to UConn new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee! pic.twitter.com/wiq5xSyeng
— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) January 12, 2017
Auburn OC Rhett Lashlee named offensive coordinator at UConn. Lashlee receives 3-year deal at UConn worth $350,000 a year
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 12, 2017
“It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, definitely in my professional career,” Lashlee said in a statement. “Auburn’s very dear to us. I’ve spent a total of six years here, two different times. All four of our kids were born here. We just love everything about Auburn. The Auburn family is always going to be very dear to us and a part of us.
“The opportunity to work for Randy Edsall, who has had success at a high level and success at UConn, and just have the opportunity to run the offense, and that’s something he’s given me to do. I’m grateful for that.
“I’m obviously very close with Coach Malzahn. Our relationship will always be good. He’s been very supportive. I’m very appreciative to him for the opportunity he gave me at Auburn.”
Former Auburn offensive lineman and SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic spoke with Lashlee on Wednesday night and the former Auburn OC provided some reasoning behind the decision.
Spoke to @rhettlashlee tonight. Told me while he loves Auburn he wanted the opportunity to run his own offense & further develop as a coach.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 12, 2017
Lashlee, who played and coached for Malzahn at Springdale High School in Arkansas, was a backup quarterback for two seasons at Arkansas (2002-04). He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Razorbacks. When Gus Malzahn took over as Auburn’s offensive coordinator in 2009 Lashlee followed, serving as a graduate assistant during the Tigers’ 2009 and 2010 seasons. The latter of those years ended with a national title run led by quarterback Cam Newton.
In 2011, Lashlee took the job as Samford’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before again following Malzahn to Arkansas State. He returned to Auburn in 2013, helping the Tigers to the second biggest turnaround in college football history. Lashlee has twice been a Broyles Award finalist, the honor bestowed on the nation’s top assistant coach.
Earlier this season, in an unprecedented move, Malzahn handed play calling duties over to Lashlee before Auburn’s game against LSU in September. After defeating LSU, Auburn would win six-straight games before injuries to top rusher Kamryn Pettway and quarterback Sean White limited the Tigers’ offense.
“Rhett has been a valuable asset to our program, helping Auburn to a national championship as a graduate assistant and another national championship appearance in 2013,” Malzahn said in a statement on Wednesday night. “Our offenses have achieved great success and he has been a big part of that. This is a great opportunity for Rhett to implement and run his own offense. I’ve known Rhett for two decades and he’s a man of great character and integrity and this is another step towards his goal to become a head coach. I want to thank Rhett for all of his contributions and his friendship. I want to wish he and his wife Lauren all the best in this new endeavor.”