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UConn ‘thrilled’ to land big-time hire Rhett Lashlee

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is leaving the program to take the same position at UConn.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is leaving the program to take the same position at UConn. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

UConn believes Rhett Lashlee is the answer to its woes on the offensive side of the ball.

The former Auburn offensive coordinator accepted the same position with the Huskies late Wednesday night.

Lashlee departs the Plains for a team that scored the fewest points in all of college football (14.8 points per game) last season.

The move is being heralded as a game-changer up north.

"I am thrilled to have Rhett join our staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach," Lashlee’s new boss Randy Edsall said in a statement. "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."

UConn athletic director David Benedict spoke about hiring Lashlee with the Hartford Courant reporter Jeff Jacobs Wednesday night. Benedict described the move as a “big-time hire” for a football program that hasn’t had a winning record since 2010.

Benedict provided the link between the two programs.

The administrator left his position as the Auburn athletic department’s chief operating officer for UConn in February.

"I know people are going to give me a lot of credit for this, but all I really did was hook Rhett and Randy up and they took care of the rest,” Benedict told the Courant. “I'm excited they found a connection and believe in each other."

According to the Hartford Courant, Benedict briefly considered Lashlee for UConn’s vacant head coaching position in December before bringing Edsall back into the fold. Edsall spent more than a decade coaching at UConn before leaving for Maryland in 2011.

Coach Gus Malzahn was asked about Lashlee interviewing with UConn when he arrived in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, but denied any knowledge of the situation.

“I don’t know,” Malzahn said. “Nobody’s said anything to me.”

For Lashlee, the move comes with a significant pay cut. The 33-year-old signed a three-year extension in 2015 worth $600,000 a year. His new three-year deal with UConn calls for an annual salary of $350,000.

Benedict downplayed the salary difference to the Hartford Courant pointing to performance bonuses tied to the team’s offense as a way Lashlee can offset some of the difference.

Lashlee quickly changed his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram) to reflect his new employer. The offensive coordinator also issued a separate statement from the one he gave Auburn’s website.

"I'm excited to be joining Coach Edsall's staff and help him get our program to where we, our fans and student-athletes want it to be," Lashlee said. "Randy is a proven winner and has done it here at UConn before and I'm thrilled to be a part of his staff. I'm humbled that Coach has trusted me with the opportunity to run the offense and work closely with his staff to make our fans proud of this team. Go Huskies."

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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