LSU defensive coordinator Aranda takes Baylor head coach job

Former LSU football player Duke Riley (left) meets up with Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda (right) during 2017 Spring football game on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of The LSU Reveille

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

Louisiana State University defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has been hired to be Baylor University’s next head football coach. Aranda joins the Bears as the curator of the national champion Tigers defense.

The former LSU coach spent the past four seasons in Baton Rouge, La, as associate head coach and DC, coaching one of the best units in the college ranks. Before LSU, Aranda spent three years as DC at Wisconsin. His teams have finished with an average No. 20 ranking in defense over the past seven years.

“Today is an exciting day for Baylor,” Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades said. “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.”

After graduating from California Lutheran in 1999, Aranda spent three years as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech. Prior to his stints at Power Five schools, he spent time at Utah State, Hawaii, Delta State, California Lutheran and Houston.

Aranda has spent most of his career working with linebackers, and spending time at LSU has given him ample time to work with NFL-caliber players like Devin White, Jamal Adams and Tre’Davius White. According to Bruce Feldman of the Athletic, he also makes annual trips to New England to learn from Bill Belichick. Aranda said the winning atmosphere at Baylor the past few years helped to draw him in.

“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.”

Aranda has been a highly demanded coach over the past three offseasons. He was pursued by Texas A&M after they hired Jimbo Fisher as their head coach two seasons ago, but LSU made Aranda one of the highest paid assistants in the country to keep him around.

Rumors also swirled in December that UNLV wanted to make him its head coach, but after some flirting, an agreement couldn’t be made due to some fit disagreements. Rhoades said that the fit here at Baylor is supreme.

“Along with demonstrated success on the field,” Rhoades said, “Dave shares in our vision of Preparing Champions for Life and our collective commitment to live by One Standard and in One Accord. We look forward to him carrying those values forward as the next leader of our football program.”

Aranda will get his start with Baylor against another new head coach in Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels on Sept. 5 in Houston at the 2020 Advocare Texas Kickoff. He returns just two starters to a defense that ranked No. 22 in yards per play and No. 7 in turnovers per game.