Reigning national champion LSU is bringing back Bo Pelini as defensive coordinator, the position he held when the Tigers won a national championship in the 2007 season, and making him one of the country's highest-paid assistant coaches.
A source said Pelini agreed to a three-year contract worth $2.3 million per year, a figure just under the $2.5 million LSU was paying his predecessor, Dave Aranda, who left Baton Rouge to be the head coach at Baylor.
Such a payment would make Pelini the second highest-paid assistant in the nation, below Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who just signed a new $2.5 million per year deal.
Clemson defensive coordinator, according to a USA Today database of assistant coach salaries in college football, ranks third by averaging $2.2 million per year in total pay.
Pelini originally signed a contract with Youngstown State in 2015 that paid him an average of $214,000 annually.
Pelini, whose hiring was announced by coach Ed Orgeron on Monday, replaces Dave Aranda, who left the Tigers to take over as Baylor's head coach after LSU's victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff final in New Orleans earlier this month.
“We are privileged to have one of the top defensive coordinators in all of football in Bo Pelini join our staff,” Orgeron said. “Bo has had some of the best defenses in football during his career and we are looking forward to him bringing his tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise back to LSU.”
Pelini has spent the past five years as head coach at Youngstown State, which he coached to the Football Championship Subdivision national title game in 2016.
Pelini also spent seven years as Nebraska's head coach after leaving LSU.
"The opportunity to return to LSU is truly unique," Pelini said. “Culturally, with my prior experience at LSU, I know it is a great fit for me. The chance to work with coach Orgeron, the ability to take charge of the Tigers defense, is something that I'm extremely excited about. All of that in a place that both my family and I immensely enjoyed when we were there before is very exciting for us.”
During Pelini's three years as LSU defensive coordinator under then-coach Les Miles from 2005-07, the Tigers ranked third nationally on defense all three years. In two of those season, LSU ranked atop the Southeastern Conference in defense.
Pelini's LSU defenses averaged 38 sacks per season and created a total of 71 turnovers. NFL first-round draft picks Glenn Dorsey and LaRon Landry were part of those defenses.
Pelini was at Nebraska from 2008-2014, going 66-27 and winning at least nine games each season. While his tenure at Nebraska was generally successful and largely devoid of controversy, he once apologized publicly when audio surfaced of his profane rant against “fair-weather” fans.
Pelini's hire is pending approval from the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Staff writer Brooks Kubena and the Associated Press contributed to this report.