Baylor hires LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as head coach

After helping LSU win a national championship, Dave Aranda has landed a head-coaching job.

Aranda, the defensive coordinator for the Tigers the last four seasons, was named the head coach at Baylor on Thursday. This is Aranda’s first head-coaching gig.

Baylor was in search of a head coach after Matt Rhule left Waco for the Carolina Panthers. Rhule quickly rebuilt Baylor back into one of the top programs in the Big 12 in the aftermath of the messy end to the Art Briles era.

The Bears went 1-11 in Rhule’s first season and 7-6 in his second season before going 11-3 in 2019. Baylor lost only one regular season game this year, dropping a heartbreaker to Oklahoma. The Bears then lost a rematch to OU in the Big 12 title game before dropping the Sugar Bowl against Georgia.

Less than a week after the Sugar Bowl, Rhule was announced as the next Panthers coach. Baylor was connected to Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, Louisiana’s Billy Napier and others before ultimately deciding to hire Aranda.

“I’m excited to get started as a Baylor Bear,” Aranda said. “From the outside looking in, I was so impressed watching Baylor play. Seeing the unity of the team and the togetherness of their play really illustrated a strong culture. After meeting Mack Rhoades, talking with President Livingstone and seeing Baylor’s alignment from top down you can see why they have been so successful. I’m ready to touch down in Waco and get to work.”

Added Baylor AD Mack Rhoades: “Today is an exciting day for Baylor. Dave is a special person who loves football and his student-athletes, is highly intellectual, and is a great mission fit for both Baylor Athletics and the university at large.”

STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 19:  LSU Tigers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda during the game between the LSU Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs on October 19, 2019 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dave Aranda spent the last four seasons as the LSU defensive coordinator. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Aranda, 43, has a long track record as one of the better defensive coaches in the country. Aranda was the defensive coordinator at Hawaii and Utah State before landing at Wisconsin when Gary Andersen left USU for the Badgers’ job. When Andersen left Madison, new coach Paul Chryst kept Aranda on as his defensive coordinator.

LSU then swooped in to pluck Aranda out of Madison and bring him to Baton Rouge. When Les Miles was ousted as head coach, Ed Orgeron kept Aranda as his defensive coordinator. In January 2018, LSU made Aranda the highest-paid assistant coach in the country — $2.5 million annually — when Jimbo Fisher tried to bring him to Texas A&M. That paid off as Aranda coached the defense that paired with the nation’s top offense en route to a national title.

Latest in a wave of LSU departures

The LSU program is going to look considerably different next season as both Aranda and passing game coordinator Joe Brady have moved on to new jobs. Brady, the whiz-kid assistant Orgeron brought in from the New Orleans Saints, was announced Thursday as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers under Rhule.

On top of that, seven LSU underclassmen have declared for the NFL draft since Monday night’s national title game. That group includes three defensive starts — safety Grant Delpit and linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips — along with wide receiver Justin Jefferson, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and two offensive linemen.

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