SMU has hired Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as its next head coach, the program announced on Monday. Lashlee is replacing current SMU coach Sonny Dykes, who is expected to be named the next head coach at rival TCU in the coming days. The hire is a bit of a homecoming for Lashlee, who served as offensive coordinator for the Mustangs from 2018-19 as a member of Dykes' staff before going to the Hurricanes.
"As with previous transitions, our process was thorough and competitive. Ultimately, though, our conversations kept leading us back to one man - Rhett Lashlee," SMU athletic director Rick Hart said. "Rhett's ability to connect with recruits, his passion and love for his players and his alignment with our vision and values are among the many reasons he has been selected to lead SMU Football.
"We will provide Rhett with the support and resources he needs to bring a championship to the Hilltop, and are thrilled to welcome Rhett back to SMU."
Lashlee's time in Dallas was successful, as SMU exploded under Dykes and reached 10 wins for the first time since 1983. In addition to coordinator duties, Lashlee coached quarterback Shane Buechele to 3,929 yards and 34 passing touchdowns in 2019, both of which led the AAC and set SMU single-season records.
His success at SMU was transferrable to Miami, which jumped from 6-7 to 8-3 after Lashlee's arrival as the program rose from No. 98 to No. 32 in total offense in his first season. Despite losing starting quarterback D'Eriq King to injury, the Hurricanes have stayed solid at No. 32 in total offense thanks to Lashlee's work with freshman QB Tyler Van Dyke, who threw for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns in 10 games.
"I am humbled and excited to be returning to SMU to lead Dallas' College Football Team," Lashlee said. "I want to thank President Turner, Rick Hart and the members of the search committee for this opportunity. My family and I look forward to engaging the community and continuing to strengthen the program's ties to the city. On the field, we want to build on the foundation of success we've established and compete for - and win - championships."
Prior to SMU, Lashlee also served as offensive coordinator at UConn, Auburn, Arkansas State and Samford. He was an integral part of the Auburn team in 2013 that pulled off shocking wins over Georgia and Alabama to reach the BCS National Championship where it lost to Florida State. Perhaps his best coaching job to date, however, was taking converted cornerback Nick Marshall and setting him up to throw for 1,976 yards, rush for 1,068 yards and score 26 total touchdowns during that 2013 season.
By investing in Lashlee, SMU is likely hoping to continue the Dallas campaign that helped the program reach new heights under Dykes' watch. The Mustangs ran a major marketing campaign to rebrand SMU as Dallas' college football team with great success. SMU notably put up billboards across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex advertising players' hometowns and integrating with the community.
Lashlee served with multiple members of SMU's coaching staff during his time of the Hilltop, including offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, wide receivers coach David Gru and running backs coach Ra'Shaad Samples. With his wealth of experience across the SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and ACC, he will have a wide pool of connections to build a staff.
Under Dykes' tutelage, SMU earned three consecutive bowl trips and posted a 25-9 record over the past three seasons. The Mustangs rank No. 3 among American Athletic Conference teams in the 247Sports Talent Composite, but will have to deal with the loss of three AAC powers to the Big 12 in the coming years.