Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has agreed to take the same position at Connecticut under new coach Randy Edsall.
Lashlee had been at Auburn since 2013, spending four seasons as Gus Malzahn's offensive coordinator. In 2013, he was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, which goes to the best assistant coach in college football. He has also had brief stints at Arkansas State and Samford.
He told Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly on Thursday that he took the Huskies job to challenge himself.
"We all have our career aspirations and goals and places we want to be. Sometimes you got to make tough decisions to maybe put yourself in a position to take the next step," Lashlee said. "The opportunity Coach Edsall's given me -- someone who's had a lot of success as a head coach, particularly at UConn -- the opportunity he's going to give me to run the offense how I'd like to and kind of stretch myself and grow as a coach and kind of get out of my comfort zone a little bit, it's just a chance to maybe go up there and help him do something not a lot of people expect. Doesn't make sense to a lot of people, but I don't worry about that."
Lashlee is taking a pay cut from $600,000 per year to $350,000, but he said the decision isn't about the money.
"A lot of people money can be the end-all, be-all, and if that's why you do anything, especially this business, you probably doing it for the wrong reasons. It's about impacting kids in the end," Lashlee told Mattingly. "... But at the end of the day I don't make all my decisions based on money, and honestly I don't make all my decisions based on what most people think makes sense. A lot of times it will, but it just kind of goes back to, you pray about and you talk about it with the people that matter in your family and you try to say, 'does this move make the most sense for us long-term?' You can't just think about now. Hey, sometimes you sacrifice a little bit now for what could be more later, but it's just not about money."
Lashlee and Malzahn have been close since Lashlee was a high school quarterback at Springdale (Arkansas) High School, where Malzahn was the head coach. But there was speculation that Lashlee wanted to get out from underneath his longtime mentor.
"This is a great opportunity for Rhett to implement and run his own offense," Malzahn said in a statement. "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."
This past season, for the first time in his career, Malzahn turned the playcalling duties over to Lashlee following a 29-16 loss to Texas A&M in Week 3. With Lashlee calling the plays, Auburn won six straight games. However, the Tigers lost three of their final four games, including a 35-19 defeat to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl earlier this month.
Now, for the first time in his career as a college head coach, Malzahn will have somebody other than Lashlee as his offensive coordinator.
As for Lashlee, he will look to turn around a UConn offense that finished last in the American in both points (14.8) and total yards (320) per game.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.