As Zac Selmon looks to replace Zach Arnett as the head coach of the Mississippi State football team, keep an eye on SMU Mustangs head coach Rhett Lashlee.
With the Mississippi State Bulldogs looking for a new leader after parting ways with Zach Arnett, one name that many Mississippi State football fans are fond of is SMU’s Rhett Lashlee. One of the most innovative offensive minds in the country right now, Lashlee could help deliver an exciting brand of football to Starkville.
Many are familiar with Lashlee as he’s helped orchestrate and been a part of designing prolific offenses. He’s worked with Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State and Auburn and also worked a bit with Sonny Dykes at SMU for a moment.
Lashlee took a brief trip to Miami before making his way back to Dallas to lead the Mustangs as their head coach.
And so far, Lashlee’s SMU offense is thrilling to watch. The Mustangs are averaging a blistering 40.5 points and 473 yards per game this season, giving them one of the best offenses in the country. It’s an exciting brand of football that keeps opponents off balance and enables SMU to run 73.6 plays per game (the Bulldogs are averaging 61 plays per game, by the way).
That’d be a lot of fun to watch in Starkville.
Mississippi State football coaching search: Could Rhett Lashlee’s offense elevate the Bulldogs?
And while some only consider Lashlee as some sort of offensive wizard, he’s enabled his defense to thrive just as much as his offense is. There aren’t any compromises there. Both SMU’s offense and defense are thriving right now.
SMU ranks as the No. 9 defense by holding foes to 16.4 points per game. And opponents are able to muster just 290.8 yards per game.
That’s something that should be appealing to Mississippi State football fans who want to maintain MSU’s strong defensive traditions.
On top of it all, the Bulldogs would also benefit from Lashlee’s recruiting connections. He’s coached in Miami and right now he’s got ties to Dallas (and the DFW Metroplex) thanks to his time at SMU. That could provide access to fertile recruiting grounds and an influx of talent that MSU hasn’t worked hard enough to take advantage of.
The Bulldogs have historically relied on in-state talent, but expanding their reach beyond state lines could elevate the program. That talent pipeline to Texas is something that should be considered strongly as MSU tries to figure out its future.
And when you add in that Lashlee has SEC experience from his tenure at Auburn, then it’s hard to not give him a serious look. He understands what it takes to compete in college football’s toughest conference and he can also help recruit in this region.
That should check a lot of boxes for an SEC team like MSU.
He’s only been a head coach for a couple years now and he’s likely going to be highly sought-after, especially if a program like Arkansas comes open. Plus, there’s the consideration that SMU is joining the ACC. He may opt to stay put and guide the Mustangs. Or he might be interested in raising his price and value for programs to get into a bidding war.
But he’s going to be an intriguing candidate for many teams for good reason. He can modernize Mississippi State football and also field a strong defense. He can tap into valuable recruiting grounds.
That’s a resume that should excite Mississippi State football fans.