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LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda answers a reporter's question during LSU's National Championship Media Day, Saturday, January 11, 2020, at Xavier's Convocation Center in New Orleans, La.

LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is expected to be Baylor's next head coach.

[Update, 6 p.m. Thursday: Aranda has officially been named Baylor's new head coach.]

Aranda, the highest-paid and one of the most well-respected assistant coaches in college football, has been reported as the possible replacement for Matt Rhule, according to The Athletic, who left Baylor to be the head coach for the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Possible candidates for Baylor also included Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente, Baylor associate head coach Joey McGuire and UL's Billy Napier, according to ESPN.

Aranda, according to Sports Illustrated, emerged as the top candidate for the Baylor job earlier Thursday.

The news comes just over a month after Aranda's name was linked to the UNLV head coaching vacancy, a position Aranda later said he only had "preliminary talks" about "and that was it."

Aranda said his situation at LSU was "hard to beat." He was the nation's highest-paid assistant coach at $2.5 million per year, and LSU was on its way to winning its fourth national championship.

UNLV was an interesting job: the school was investing more money into the program, the team was moving into a new stadium and it suited well with Aranda's West Coast ties.

But Baylor offers something UNLV can't: it's a Power Five program on the rise with a team that just went 11-3 and played in the Big 12 Conference championship game.

Aranda said at the Peach Bowl semifinal that he's always wanted to be a head coach, that the interest has "been like that for a while."

LSU coach Ed Orgeron has said that he believes Aranda will be a head coach one day, and he's made hints that it will be hard to retain people on his staff like Aranda and passing-game coordinator Joe Brady, whom Rhule hired to be the offensive coordinator in Carolina.

"After the season, we have coaches that are gonna get chances to go elsewhere," Orgeron said in November. "But the ones that we want to keep, we’re gonna fight like heck to keep.”

Aranda was hired from Wisconsin by former LSU coach Les Miles in 2016, and he was retained when Ed Orgeron became LSU's coach after Miles was fired. Since then, Aranda has received a raise and become the sport's highest-paid assistant coach with an annual average salary of $2.5 million.

Texas A&M came chasing after Aranda last January. LSU awarded Aranda a new four-year contract, making him the first coordinator in college football to make more than $2 million per year.

LSU also hired Bill Busch, Aranda's former Utah State and Wisconsin colleague, to coach safeties.

There is no buyout in Aranda's contract if he becomes a head coach or earns a job in the NFL.

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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.