ORLANDO, Fla. — LSU’s coordinator drama isn’t only on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda spurned a pursuit from Texas A&M over the weekend, choosing to remain with the Tigers ahead of Monday's 24-17 Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame, multiple sources told The Advocate.
The Aggies made a second run at an LSU defensive coordinator in the past three years. They plucked John Chavis away from the program in December 2014. Aranda, the 41-year-old defensive whiz who’s finishing his second year with the school, turned down any offer or potential offer from LSU’s Southeastern Conference Western Division rival.
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He delivered a commitment to coach Ed Orgeron and athletic director Joe Alleva in the days leading up to LSU’s Citrus Bowl appearance.
Texas A&M is building a staff around new coach Jimbo Fisher, the former LSU offensive coordinator who left Florida State for a 10-year, $75 million guaranteed contract in College Station, Texas. Fisher's former defensive coordinator at FSU, Charles Kelly, is reportedly heading to Tennessee as a position coach on new coach Jeremy Pruitt's staff.
ORLANDO, Fla. — When the LSU coaching staff returned from Christmas break a year ago to resume Citrus Bowl preparations for Louisville and Hei…
Aranda is the highest-paid assistant in college football. He made $1.8 million last year and will make $1.85 million this year in a contract that runs through the 2019 season. Last year he was elevated to associate head coach and was given a new three-year deal that raised his $1.2 million salary from his initial contract when he came to LSU from Wisconsin.
He is known as a defensive guru, a man hired by former coach Les Miles after the 2015 season to transform the Tigers into a 3-4 unit. His 2016 defense finished 10th nationally in total defense, and his current unit ranks 11th, despite having to replace seven starters.
Texas A&M's pursuit of Aranda is far from the only drama on this staff. LSU and offensive coordinator Matt Canada are expected to split after the bowl game, though it's unclear when that is to happen. The program would owe him about $3 million in buyout money for a dismissal.
Aranda, meanwhile, is expected to remain with the program — for now. He has never expressed an interest in another college job or, even, a college head coaching job. Many believe he aspires to be an NFL defensive coordinator.
Toward the back of Shaun Houston’s home was a room where video games are played.
Aranda is the most heralded member of LSU's staff. As a Power Five coordinator at LSU and Wisconsin, his five defenses have ranked near the top 10 nationally. LSU led the FBS in fewest touchdowns allowed in 2016 with a 1.3 average per game. Dating to Aranda's season as a defensive coordinator at Utah State in 2012, his units have held the opposition to one touchdown or fewer in 41 of 77 games.
LSU officials believe Aranda is happy in Baton Rouge. He and his wife Dione have two daughters, Jaelyn and Jordyn, and a son, Ronin.
“It’s great,” Aranda said Friday when he met with reporters here for the only time this week. “My family loves it here. The kids love their school. My wife has a good network of friends. I enjoy the people I’m working with.”