Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele left the LSU Tigers for the Auburn Tigers in the offseason, but head coach Les Miles found a replacement Friday in the form of Dave Aranda.
According to Michael Bonnette of LSUSports.net, LSU named Aranda, the former Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator, to the position Friday. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reported the deal is for three years, beginning at $1.3 million per year and escalates.
Miles commented on the move, per Bonnette:
This is a great hire for us. Dave has an outstanding track record of producing some of the best defenses in college football. We’ve seen him up close and understand how difficult it is to have success against him.
He’s everything that we were looking for in a defensive coordinator. He’s youthful with tremendous enthusiasm; our players are going to love him. He brings great defensive knowledge to our staff both as a technician and as a strategist. We are thrilled that he’s joining us.
Bonnette delved into Wisconsin's numbers during Aranda’s tenure as defensive coordinator from 2013 to 2015 and noted the Badgers allowed an average of 289.4 yards per contest in that span, which was the best mark in the nation. The defense was also second in points allowed per game (16.9) in those three combined years.
Those defensive numbers would immediately make LSU a championship contender in the vaunted SEC, especially since Bonnette pointed out that the Tigers “could return as many as nine starters” on the defensive side of the ball in 2016.
While Aranda’s Badgers were No. 1 in the country in points allowed per game in 2015, the Tigers finished a mediocre 44th in the same statistic. LSU was 25th in the nation in yards allowed per game, although it struggled during a three-game losing streak against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss, when it allowed 30 or more points in each contest.
In an interesting twist, the Tigers will open the 2016 campaign against the same Wisconsin team Aranda is leaving in a neutral-site clash at Lambeau Field.
Aranda was also the defensive coordinator at Utah State in 2012 and Hawaii from 2010 to 2011.