AUBURN, Ala. – With coaching change comes the inevitable collateral damage: verbally-committed high school players who bolt the program.
Auburn lost a big one Friday, even after quickly putting a head coach and both coordinators in place this week.
Blue-chip recruit Reuben Foster, the nation’s top linebacking prospect, has an Auburn tattoo on his right arm, decommitted from Alabama in July and switched high schools from Troup County to Auburn High School.
“I am decommitting from Auburn,” Foster told ESPN.com. “I am opening up my recruitment because recruiting is all about relationships, and the person I’ve built a relationship with is no longer there.”
That person is Trooper Taylor, former assistant head coach and wide receivers coach who will not be retained after the past four years at Auburn. New head coach Gus Malzahn hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson within the past 24 hours, after officially dismissing Gene Chizik’s assistants.
Even though Malzahn worked with Taylor and some other former position coaches, and will not completely ruled it out, it’s unlikely he’ll consider the other holdovers to fill out his staff.
Foster is considering Georgia, LSU, Miami and Washington, according to AuburnSports.com.
Coordinator salaries announced
No contracts or letters of agreement have been released yet, but Auburn was able to divulge the paydays for its new coordinators.
Johnson, 60, who has been in the business more than 30 years, will rake in $800,000 this year in base salary. Lashlee, 29, in his third year as an offensive coordinator at three different schools and less than half Johnson’s age, has agreed to a $350,000 salary.
Their predecessors, Brian VanGorder and Scot Loeffler, made $850,000 and $500,000 respectively.
Lashlee to coach A-State in bowl game
Malzahn has already started his full-time responsibilities at Auburn. Lashlee won’t be so lucky.
Arkansas State announced Friday, in conjunction with its defensive coordinator and interim head coach John Thompson, that Lashlee will remain with the Red Wolves through their appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile on Jan. 6.
“I made our players aware last night that Coach Lashlee will be a part of our coaching staff for our practices and bowl game, and they were extremely excited as you would expect,” Thompson said in the release. “I am thrilled that Coach Lashlee will be our offensive coordinator for the bowl game, and I know he has embraced this opportunity.”
Like riding a bicycle?
Many of the current Tigers either played in Malzahn’s hurry-up, hybrid spread offense or were recruited into it two years ago.
“I think it’s nothing but a plus, with coach Malzahn and myself being familiar with the guys and them being familiar with us,” Lashlee said. “It can only help when we install this thing, but we’ll install it from the ground just like it’s day one like they’ve never heard it before.”
After a lackluster 2012 in which the offense never got in gear, the Tigers watches enviously as opponents like Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas A&M ran up and down the field at breakneck speed.
“I feel like that’s what we’re going to transition to,” sophomore tight end C.J. Uzomah said Tuesday, “and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Subs are for scrubs
The previous year’s defense emphasized rotations on the defensive line and in the secondary. Johnson has an old-school mindset, but has evolved his schemes to the point where he will ditch that philosophy.
“I feel like today in college football, if you base your principles on substituting players and matching up, there will be teams on your schedule that will not allow you to do that,” Johnson said, in a nod to that prominent spread offense. “I want to start with a base that allows us the most flexibility with the starting 11.”