Gus Malzahn’s quest to find a new offensive coordinator has zigged and zagged in the past few days since the surprising departure of Rhett Lashlee to UConn. One place it will not be going however, is to a fellow SEC West school.
Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reports that despite some interest in Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies’ coach is staying put in College Station.
Mazzone arrived at A&M prior to this past season from UCLA and found early success with the Aggies and transfer quarterback Trevor Knight before a late slide in 2016. Travis Haney of 247Sports reported earlier Thursday that he could be considered the leader in the search to replace Lashlee, but it appears that will not be the case.
The longtime coaching veteran’s name being linked to Auburn isn’t too surprising considering he was the OC there from 1999-2001 but Mazzone’s hefty salary and likely high buyout figure provided some big obstacles if he wanted to reunite with the school.
Instead, it’s on to the next one for Malzahn and company.
New UConn head coach Randy Edsall has named Billy Crocker his defensive coordinator, the program announced Saturday.
Crocker arrives from Villanova, where he helped the Wildcats build one of the most successful defenses in FCS. Villanova led the subdivision in total defense (259.9 yards per game allowed) and scoring defense (15 points per game allowed) this season. ‘Nova’s scoring defense average was cut in half (30.6 points per game) from the number Crocker inherited before taking over in 2012.
At Connecticut, he’ll be responsible for a defense that placed 65th nationally in both yards per play and points per game allowed.
“I am very excited to have Billy join our staff as the defensive coordinator,” Edsall said in a statement. “When you research the work that he has done the past several years with the Villanova defense, the productivity and improvement is unprecedented. I am thrilled to bring the Connecticut native back to work with us here at UConn.”
Crocker spent a total of 12 seasons at Connecticut; prior to that, he served as running backs coach at Albany. Though this will be his first job in the state, Crocker is a Connecticut native, hailing from Waterford, Conn.
Crocker will earn $300,000 per year over the course of his 3-year contract.
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley surprised many when he let longtime defensive coordinator Mark Banker go this week but didn’t leave Cornhuskers fans wondering what direction he was going to go on that side of the ball for long.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported on Friday evening that former UConn head coach Bob Diaco was taking over as Big Red’s new defensive coordinator.
The youthful coach went 11-26 over three seasons in Storrs, pulling a few upsets along the ways but struggled to get things going on the offensive end that eventually led to his replacement by former head man Randy Edsall.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the Blackshirts will be undergoing a transformation on the defensive side of the ball with the hire of Diaco, as he is highly regarded for his 3-4 defenses. The team mostly ran the 4-3 under Banker.
Diaco won the Broyles Award as the nation’s best assistant coach back in 2012 when he coordinated Notre Dame’s defense when they completed an undefeated season and made it to the BCS national title game. He reportedly was also in the running to take the same position at Arkansas among others.
Bowl season is over but playing football games in baseball stadiums is not.
UConn announced on Thursday evening that their non-conference matchup with Boston College on November 18, 2017 is being moved to Fenway Park, the historic home of the Boston Red Sox.
“We are thrilled to take part in the continuation of what we hope will be a long-time partnership with the Fenway Group and the Boston Red Sox,” UConn AD David Benedict said in a release. “This game will present our players an unforgettable experience playing in one of the most-renowned venues in American sport and provide UConn fans with a front row seat. We could not be happier to take part.”
The school notes that UConn will receive a guaranteed payment of $1.125 million for its participation in the game, the largest guarantee in Husky football history. The Eagles, however, will not be paid any money as a result of the contest. A game involving UMass and FCS squad Maine was also announced as part of the slate for the stadium and will take place the week prior.
New head coach Randy Edsall expressed plenty of excitement in a statement over the prospect of playing at Fenway but he probably isn’t too happy deep down about moving a home game so early in his second tenure with the Huskies to within a few miles of Boston College’s campus. Still, it should be a fun and unique atmosphere all things considered and one of the few reasons to actually tune in to see BC and UConn play a college football game if you’re not an alum of either school.
Bonus points for this series if the two teams can somehow involve the Green Monster in kicking field goals.
Rhett Lashlee spent the past four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Auburn. In late September, Gus Malzahn handed the play-calling reins over to Lashlee, leaving those duties to his assistant for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Four months later? UConn announced that new/old head coach Randy Edsall has hired Lashlee as his new coordinator on his Huskies coaching staff. The abrupt and unexpected divorce on The Plains was apparently an amicable one as UConn’s announcement included a quote from Lashlee’s former boss, which indicated that his underling left “to implement and run his own 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 the statement. “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.”
“Auburn is a special place to me and my family,” Lashlee said. “All four of our kids were born in Auburn and I’m happy to have been part of two SEC Championships and two National Championship games. The Auburn Family will always be special to us.”
According to the release, Lashlee signed a three-year contract worth $350,000 the first year. In 2016, Lashlee made just a shade over $600,000 in what turned out to be his final season with the Tigers.
In addition to the coordinating role, Lashlee will also serve as quarterbacks coach for Edsall.
Said the head coach of his new coordinator, “He is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football and I know that his experience around some of the highest-powered offenses and top players in the country is going to be an incredible benefit to our program.”