Lashlee leaves Auburn while Louisville, Mississippi State swap D-coordinators

The musical chairs game of coaching in college football has now kicked into high gear.

It’s not just at Arkansas, where Robb Smith has gone to Minnesota, leaving the defensive coordinator position open. Secondary coach Paul Rhoads is reportedly the front-runner to replace Smith, but now there are some saying he may be a co-coordinator.

Some of the names in the mix at Arkansas include:

• Former Arkansas assistant Charlie Partridge, who was fired at Florida Atlantic.

• Mississippi State safeties coach Maurice Linguist.

• Central Florida defensive coordinator Erik Chinander.

The Hogs’ offensive coordinator, Dan Enos, has been mentioned as a replacement for P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan in addition to the offensive coordinator position at Pittsburgh after Matt Canada went to LSU.

One of the more interesting moves came about when Louisville forced defensive coordinator Todd Grantham out, then hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon to replace him after it surfaced Tuesday he was being forced out in Starkville.

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So, MSU immediately hires Grantham. He will become the fourth defensive coordinator under Dan Mullen in the past four seasons. The other names were Geoff Collins and Manny Diaz before Sirmon.

Grantham may have traded one difficult coach to work for in Bobby Petrino for Mullen, who reportedly has similar issues with assistants.

But all of that pales to the drama going on down on The Plains at Auburn.

Gus Malzahn, despite getting the Tigers to the Sugar Bowl, had to dump his buddy, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. According to sources at Auburn, it was a move Malzahn had to make to keep his job.

Lashlee, with Malzahn’s help, got the offensive coordinator position at Connecticut with new coach Randy Edsall.

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That immediately started the rumors about either former Baylor coach Art Briles or his son Kendall (who was the offensive coordinator for the Bears) replacing Lashlee.

All of that was squashed Thursday morning in a report from Auburn Undercover on 247Sports.com.

“No way on Art,” a high-level source told Auburn Undercover on Thursday. “Kendal lacks experience Gus (Malzahn) needs.”

That leaves the game of musical chairs going at warp speed. Considering Malzahn has to please the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by former coach Pat Dye along with a demanding fan base and boosters, it has to be a big name and somebody with a proven track record.

On the staff are offensive line coach Herb Hand, running backs coach Tim Horton or receivers coach Kodi Burns and they will be fallback candidates.

Now the candidates include:

• Jeff Scott, Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator.

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• Jake Spavital, California’s offensive coordinator who is in limbo after Sonny Dykes was fired.

• Chip Lindsey, Arizona State’s offensive coordinator, who may be the frontrunner, according to some close to Auburn. He was a high school coach at Spain Park and knocked off legendary Hoover. His connections in Alabama high schools run deep, but his offense last year with the Sun Devils was only ranked 81st.

• Brandon Streeter, Clemson’s quarterback coach.

• Eliah Drinkwitz, North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator, who moved to offensive coordinator at Springdale High when Malzahn was hired by the Razorbacks. He later followed Malzahn to Auburn and Arkansas State.

And we haven’t even gotten to who’s coming and going at Alabama yet. Every year Nick Saban’s staff has at least one or two divorces, a couple of heart issues and four ulcers to deal with.