A familiar name will be the next person to lead LSU's defense: Bo Pelini.
The former LSU defensive coordinator, who helped LSU win a national championship in 2007 under then-coach Les Miles, is set to return to Baton Rouge for another stint as the team's defensive coordinator, the team announced Monday.
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.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said that running back was still a need in recruiting for the team as the program headed toward signing day.
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.
The 52-year-old Pelini had been the head coach at Youngstown State since 2015.
"The opportunity to return to LSU is truly unique," Pelini said in a news release. "Culturally, with my prior experience at LSU, I know it is a great fit for me. The chance to work with Coach (Ed) Orgeron, the ability to take charge of the Tigers defense. All of that in a place that both my family and I immensely enjoyed when we were there before is very exciting for us. We are very honored and looking forward to this next chapter."
The news comes 11 days after Aranda was formally introduced at Baylor, and it fills one of Orgeron's two main staff vacancies.
The other, passing-game coordinator, opened when Broyles Award winner Joe Brady was hired by Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, Baylor's former coach, to be the offensive coordinator on Rhule's first staff in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Orgeron is expected to take a patient approach in hiring Brady's replacement, a source said, as the program moves deeper into its offseason restoration following its fourth national championship in school history.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron landed a commitment from another wide receiver a little over a week before national signing day.
Multiple transitional moves have happened in the two weeks since LSU beat Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Last Friday, defensive line coach Dennis Johnson, who spent the 2019 season as an analyst because of injury, joined Aranda's staff at Baylor, which also hired LSU analyst Jorge Munoz as Aranda's new wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator.
Orgeron also agreed to terms on a new six-year, $42 million contract that will run through 2026, a deal that boosted him among the top five highest-paid head coaches in college football.
Pelini's hiring and Orgeron's contract with LSU must meet approval by the Board of Supervisors, which next meets March 6.
"We are privileged to have one of the top defensive coordinators in all of football in Bo Pelini join our staff," Orgeron said in a news release. "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 to continue to win championships."
A busy year for LSU athletics that included success and scandal saw a major boost in the department's annual revenue.
Replacing Aranda was paramount for the Tigers, who largely have built their reputation on defense in the past few decades. Aranda, who had just finished his fourth season in Baton Rouge, was highly respected in coaching circles as a defensive guru and garnered the nickname "The Professor" for his creative blitz packages and versatility in creating leverage for his units.
Pelini holds a similar reputation as a defensive mind, although he has been a head coach since leaving LSU for Nebraska in 2008 after the Tigers defeated Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.
In Pelini's three seasons as defensive coordinator at LSU from 2005 to 2007, the Tigers produced four first-round NFL draft picks along with six first-team All-America selections, including defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and safety Craig Steltz.
LSU's defense never ranked lower than third nationally in total defense in Pelini's tenure. The Tigers led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense in both 2006 (12.6 points allowed per game) and 2007 (14.2 points allowed per game).
LSU averaged 38 sacks per season in that three-year span, and the defense created a combined 71 turnovers. It's this attacking style of defense that links Orgeron and Pelini. Orgeron has consistently preached for more sacks, more tackles for loss and more turnovers, and the Tigers ranked with the nation's top 25 in each category in the 2019 season.
Former LSU defensive line coach Dennis Johnson will return to full-time coaching and join Dave Aranda's staff at Baylor, a source told The Adv…
Orgeron and Pelini share a mentor in Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Orgeron was a defensive line coach for Carroll at Southern Cal from 2001 to 2004. When Carroll was the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers and head coach of the New England Patriots in the late 1990s, Pelini served as his defensive backs and linebackers coach.
Pelini's success as a coordinator led to his hiring at Nebraska in 2008. He was fired in 2014 despite going 67-27 in eight seasons. The Cornhuskers never won fewer than nine games, but a constant string of 9-4 and 10-4 seasons began to build a sense of stagnancy in his program.
Pelini also had a polarizing reputation due to his blunt and fiery personality, which included an episode in which he was caught on audiotape cursing Nebraska fans and media.
One week from LSU’s CFP national championship, it felt like the football program was under assault.
In 2015, Pelini returned to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and became the head coach at Youngstown State. The Penguins went 33-28 in Pelini's five seasons, which included an appearance in the 2017 FCS national championship game.
Pelini attended Cardinal Mooney High, the same high school as former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. Pelini worked for Stoops for one season in 2004, when Pelini was the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Sooners.
The other coordinator was current Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. That season, Oklahoma lost to Southern Cal 55-19 in the BCS title game, Orgeron's final game as defensive line coach with the Trojans.
Former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was formally introduced as the new Baylor football head coach Monday at his introductory press co…
Bo Pelini coaching experience
1991, Iowa (graduate assistant)
1993, Cardinal Mooney High School (Youngstown, Ohio) (quarterbacks)
1994-96, San Francisco 49ers (defensive backs)
1997-99, New England Patriots (linebackers)
2000-02, Green Bay Packers (linebackers)
2003, Nebraska (defensive coordinator, interim head coach for Alamo Bowl)
2004, Oklahoma (co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs)
2005-07, LSU (defensive coordinator)
2008-2014, Nebraska (head coach)
2015-2019, Youngstown State (head coach)