Rhett Lashlee has been a deeply polarizing figure at Auburn over the last few seasons. There are plenty who have derided his ability to develop the quarterbacks and considered him only a "Yes Man." Then there are those - like me - who have defended his coaching and praised his play-calling during the Tigers' 6-game winning streak in 2016.
We've always known Rhett would eventually want to break away from Gus Malzahn and prove his worth on his own without having Gus' shadow looming over him. We just didn't expect that to be leaving for UConn to be their offensive coordinator and taking a $250k pay cut to do it.
Welcome to UConn new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee! pic.twitter.com/wiq5xSyeng— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) January 12, 2017
It has been speculated that if the NCAA approves the 10th assistant, then Gus would be shuffled from the QB coach duties, anyway. Perhaps this is a multi-part move to make everyone happy. We know Rhett needs success away from Gus. We know Gus' offense needs some new and fresh concepts, especially in the passing game.
I know plenty will be thrilled with this move. I, for one, am not as thrilled. I do think the offense needed some new ideas, but I think Rhett was doing a good job at getting Auburn back to what we know and wanted it to be during that winning streak.
So where do the Tigers turn from here? That's a big question. There are plenty of possibilities out there. Let's discuss a few.
1) Art Briles. Let's get this out of the way. His name is going to come up. I'm not saying Auburn or Gus would even consider it, but it's going to come up. Gus and Art are friends. Art doesn't have a job right now. Auburn lured Jarrett Stidham in and Lashlee was a huge part of that. You have to think either they let him in on a bit of what was going on or else this was a blind-side move to hold on to Rhett until Stidham enrolled. However, if Auburn hires Briles, then that'll be the last of my Auburn fandom until everyone involved in his hiring is gone.
2) Chip Kelly. I can dream, right? Kelly is available, and he could definitely add some new perspective and help get the Tigers back in the Hurry Up/No Huddle game. Can you imagine his offenses with a dynamic passing QB and a lock-down defense? It's not likely to happen, but I'd love it if it did.
3) Sonny Dykes. The recently fired Cal coach comes from an Air Raid philosophy, so that may seem strange at first, but remember that Gus was more of a passing guy in his high school days. He and Herb Hand could take the zone-read run concepts and marry them with Dykes' Air Raid passing concepts. That would mean Dykes wouldn't have full control, though, so I don't see it.
4) Herb Hand. Could Gus promote from within? He and Hand were Co-OCs for the Tulsa teams. It's possible, but I don't know that I see that happening. It could allow Gus to hire a dedicated QB coach, though.
5) Chip Lindsey. This is the most likely one. Lindsey was an offensive analyst on the 2013 team. His focus was receivers and the passing game. He and Kodi Burns know each other and reportedly worked well together then and during the few brief weeks Burns was at Arizona State when Lindsey was hired as OC in 2016. Lindsey was the OC for Southern Miss in 2014 when they had some powerful offenses and was at Troy last year as QBs coach. If I had to put money on a hire - particularly given Gus' hiring of people he knows and trusts on offense - this is the one I'd point to as most likely.
6) Eliah Drinkwitz. Drinkwitz was a GA for the 2010 national championship team. He's bounced around as an OC at Boise (where he did a pretty dang good job) and was at North Carolina State this past season. He's another one who has roots under Gus but has also been away for a while and could be brought back in.
What about y'all? Any thoughts of yours?