NCAA FB

OC Rhett Lashlee finds niche with Malzahn, Auburn

Share This Story

   
 

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos.)By JOHN ZENORAP Sports Writer

Rhett Lashlee tried to get away from coaching's endless grind of film study, practice and recruiting trips. He really did.

No. 2 Auburn's whiz kid of an offensive coordinator got out of the business after the 2006 season at Arkansas, getting married and running a high school sports magazine for a year and a half or so.

Lashlee turned down a chance to follow Gus Malzahn, now the Tigers' head coach, to Tulsa in a decision that flummoxed his mentor and others.

''He wasn't really happy with me,'' the 30-year-old coordinator said Thursday. ''He thought I was crazy like everybody else, and rightfully so.''

When Malzahn called again with an offer, Lashlee jumped back into coaching as an Auburn graduate assistant from 2009-10.

It doesn't look like he'll be leaving the business again anytime soon.

Malzahn and Lashlee have forged the nation's top rushing offense and ridden it into Monday night's BCS championship game against No. 1 Florida State.

Though they have different personalities, they've been around each other since Lashlee was a quarterback running Malzahn's no-huddle offense as an eighth-grader in Springdale, Ark., before setting national records under him at Shiloh Christian High School.

Lashlee is affable and laid back and often sneaks out of the office either for a jog or to pick up a takeout lunch to break up the monotony of the marathon days. He even danced with the players in the locker room after the Alabama game.

Malzahn is studious, reserved and all football, for most of his 20 waking hours a day.

The combination seems to work awfully well despite the occasional marital discord during the heat of the moment.

''If you are on the field with us, looking over at the sidelines they are like a married couple fighting sometimes,'' Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah said. ''I'm telling you, they are back and forth, `We need to do this, we need to do this.' And coach Malzahn will say some stuff and it's constant back and forth, and that meshes together perfectly.

''But it's funny sometimes to be able to listen to them.''

They've been together a long time, with occasional amicable separations. Lashlee played for Malzahn at Shiloh Christian from 1999-2000 and the following year under Chris Wood, leading the team to an Arkansas-record 40 wins, three straight championship games and two titles. He set national prep records with 171 career touchdown passes, 200 total touchdowns and 672 passing yards in a game before going on to a backup role at Arkansas.

Lashlee left again to serve as Samford's offensive coordinator for a season before following Malzahn to Arkansas State in that capacity in 2012.

Both are perfectionists, demanding players be lined up precisely at the right spot, not six inches off. Lashlee can serve as a buffer, too, for his intense boss.

''Coach Malzahn, any time something doesn't work he takes it really personally,'' Uzomah said. ''Coach Lashlee will be like, `Coach, calm down, it didn't happen on purpose. They didn't mean to drop the ball or run the wrong play, it's OK.'

''And coach Malzahn will freak out.''

Malzahn makes sure to often credit Lashlee for his work with quarterback Nick Marshall, who had to take a crash course in the offense during preseason camp.

Since Malzahn designed the offense and is what Lashlee describes as ''the best playcaller in the country,'' it leads to inevitable questions about their respective roles.

''People ask all the time, how do you call plays? How are you between drives?'' Lashlee said. ''I don't know if it goes back to when I played for him in high school. It just works. We never sat down and laid out parameters for it. It just happens.

''Some games are more one way or the other. But we always know going in we're on the same page of what we want to do, how we want to attack people.''

However it works, it does work.

Tagged: Auburn, Arkansas

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash