SMU hires former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as head coach

Courtesy of SMU Football

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SMU hired Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as its next head coach, sources confirm to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. The news was first reported by Bill Embody at The Mustangs needed a new head man following the departure of Sonny Dykes to TCU. Lashlee was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at SMU from 2018 through 2019 prior to moving to Miami. 

Lashlee, an Arkansas native, was a record-breaking prep quarterback prior to a career at Arkansas as mostly a backup until a shoulder injury ended his playing career. His coaching career started at the high school level, following Gus Malzahn back to Arkansas in 2006. After a few years outside of the business, Lashlee returned to coaching as a graduate assistant at Auburn, where Malzahn was offensive coordinator. 

Lashlee remained at Auburn until taking the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach role at Samford University in 2011. Malzahn left Auburn after the 2011 season to become head coach at Arkansas State, and Lashlee joined his staff as offensive coordinator. The pair then moved back to Auburn as head coach and offensive coordinator a year later. 

Lashlee would remain at Auburn until a one-year stint at UConn as an offensive coordinator. It was in 2018 when SMU and Lashlee first crossed paths. He was the offensive coordinator under Dykes during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 

The Mustangs went 5-7 in 2018, but the offense averaged 30.4 points per game, which ranked 54th in the nation. The SMU defense gave up 35.2 points per game that year, which ranked 110th out of 130 teams. SMU’s record improved to 10-3 in 2019 as the offense raised its performance even further to 41.8 points per game. 

The production at SMU allowed Lashlee another shot as an offensive coordinator for a Power Five program when Manny Diaz and Miami came calling. The Hurricanes averaged 34 points per game, 26th in the nation, during an 8-3 season. Those numbers are down to 32.9 points per game in 2021 with Miami missing its starting quarterback. 

Hiring Lashlee allows SMU to retain some continuity. He’s a familiar face who recruited some of the older players on the roster. He’s familiar with the university administration and the expectations at SMU. The Mustangs started 7-0 in 2021 but are 1-3 down the stretch. Dykes will coach SMU on Saturday against Tulsa to finish the regular season. 

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