SMU made two significant hires in the past month. First, they brought in offensive guru Sonny Dykes to run the program, then this week they hired UConn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to run the offense. Putting those two offensive minds together should mean the scoreboard at Ford Stadium will look like a pinball machine. Lashlee elevated UConn's offense from the cellar of the FBS to top 50 level respectability. His pedigree is unquestioned, Lashlee worked under Auburn's Gus Malzahn for four seasons before heading to Storrs.
The move to UConn surprised many, Lashlee took a quarter million dollar pay cut and left a power five job where he'd called plays for a Group of Five position. Lashlee had no real connection to UConn head coach Randy Edsall, and Malzahn ceded play-calling control to Lashlee three games into the 2016 season. Perhaps the move was a chance for Lashlee to break from Malzahn's shadow.
Auburn's loss was UConn's gain, and now the same can be said for SMU. Most consider Dykes a great coach to work for and SMU puts Lashlee back into a familiar recruiting territory. Lashlee's offense differs from Dykes' Air Raid approach, but perhaps the two can blend well. Lashlee's UConn offense evolved away from the power run game that Malzahn prefers.
The melding of offensive minds doesn't always lead to fireworks. SMU knows this first hand, at the end of June Jones tenure, Jones brought Hal Mumme on to assist with the offense. The ensuing train wreck led to Jones ouster and the birth of the Chad Morris era.
Offense hasn't been the problem on the Hilltop, slowing down opposing offenses is the issue. The biggest hire of the Dykes era, so far, will be at defensive coordinator. Dykes targeted former Oregon State and Wisconsin head coach Gary Anderson, but Anderson took the coordinator job at Utah yesterday.
If and until SMU becomes competent on both sides of the football, they'll become a player among the AAC's elite. If not, the Mustangs will continue to struggle in the league.