Baylor hires LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as head coach

Baylor has hired LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as its next head coach, the university announced Thursday.

"Today is an exciting day for Baylor," athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. "Dave is a special person who loves football and his student-athletes, is highly intellectual, and is a great mission fit for both Baylor Athletics and the University at large."

Aranda, 43, emerged as the leading candidate Thursday morning. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente and Louisiana coach Billy Napier, who each spoke with Baylor about the job, announced Thursday that they are remaining with their schools.

Joey McGuire, who is serving as Baylor's interim head coach, also drew consideration for the permanent position. McGuire is the associate head coach and defensive ends coach.

Aranda will replace Matt Rhule, who last week left to become head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Rhule spent three seasons at Baylor; in 2019, he guided the Bears to 11 wins, a spot in the Big 12 championship game and a Sugar Bowl appearance.

"I'm excited to get started as a Baylor Bear," Aranda said. "From the outside looking in, I was so impressed watching Baylor play. Seeing the unity of the team and the togetherness of their play really illustrated a strong culture. After meeting Mack Rhoades, talking with President [Linda] Livingstone and seeing Baylor's alignment from top down, you can see why they have been so successful. I'm ready to touch down in Waco and get to work."

Aranda had spent the past four years at LSU and helped the Tigers win the national championship on Monday against Clemson. He was the highest-paid assistant in college football, earning $2.5 million annually.

He is the second high-profile LSU assistant to leave the Tigers. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady joined Rhule as offensive coordinator for the Panthers.

Baylor will mark Aranda's first head-coaching job. He also served as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Utah State, Hawaii, Southern Utah, Delta State and Cal Lutheran, where he played football with current Texas coach Tom Herman.

Aranda has coached in the state of Texas twice before, first as a graduate assistant for Mike Leach at Texas Tech and then as linebackers coach at Houston for two seasons.