LSU hires Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to same position
Dave Aranda, who has guided Top-10 defenses at Wisconsin for the past three years, has been named LSU’s defensive coordinator, head coach Les Miles announced on Friday night.
In three years as the Wisconsin defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, Aranda coached a Badger defense that combined to rank among the top 5 in the nation in the four major defensive categories – scoring, total yards, passing yards and rushing yards.
From 2013-15, Aranda’s defense allowed an average of 289.4 yards per game – which ranks first in the nation over that span. His defense allowed 16.9 points (No. 2 nationally), 179.9 passing yards (No. 3 nationally) and 109.6 rushing yards (No. 4 nationally) over the three years, a span that saw Wisconsin win 30 games with just 10 losses.
Aranda’s 2015 defense capped the regular season leading the nation in points allowed at 13.1 points a contest. Wisconsin also currently ranks No. 3 in the nation in total defense (268.5 yards per game), No. 4 in rushing defense (95.4 yards per game) and No. 7 in passing defense (173.2 yards per game).
“This is a great hire for us,” Miles said. “Dave has an outstanding track record of producing some of the best defenses in college football. We’ve seen him up close and understand how difficult it is to have success against him.
“He’s everything that we were looking for in a defensive coordinator. He’s youthful with tremendous enthusiasm; our players are going to love him. He brings great defensive knowledge to our staff both as a technician and as a strategist. We are thrilled that he’s joining us.”
LSU opened the 2014 season against Aranda and Wisconsin, winning 28-24. However. Aranda’s defense limited the Tigers to 126 rushing yards as LSU used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Badgers in Houston. LSU opens the 2016 season against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.
Aranda will take over an LSU defense that could return as many as nine starters from a unit that allowed 24.2 points and 347.2 total yards (122.9 rushing, 224.2 passing) a contest.
“Dave will bring different packages and an attacking style to the field,” Miles said. “Watching his defense play, they are tough to move the ball on and they are sticky in every situation. His defenses do a great job of getting off the field.
“He’s going to be a great fit for our personnel. He’s a players’ coach, and we are really excited that he’s going to be a LSU Tiger.”
Aranda’s top defensive product as Wisconsin was linebacker Chris Borland, who was named 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American as a senior. Borland was a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Aranda also saw noseguard Beau Allen (Philadelphia) and safety Dezmen Southward (Atlanta) selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
"He's done some exceptional things," Badgers cornerback Sojourn Shelton said. "The players here, they want to play for him. He gets the players to believe in themselves. And even in some down times when players go through things, he's always there for you. That's the type of coach that he is. He's definitely done a great job. If he was to leave, I think we all can understand and respect him for that."
Aranda spent the 2012 season at Utah State. As the defensive coordinator at USU, he oversaw an Aggies defense that ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game.
In addition to scoring defense, Utah State also ranked among the top 15 nationally in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th). In the red zone, the Aggies were particularly effective, allowing opponents to score on just 63.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, a mark that tied them for third in the country in red zone defense. USU opponents scored just 13 TDs in 44 red zone opportunities (29.5 percent).
Prior to his season at Utah State, Aranda spent four years at Hawai`i, the last two as the Warriors' defensive coordinator after coaching UH's defensive line his first two years.
During the 2011 season at Hawai`i, Aranda's defense led the Western Athletic Conference and was tied for 15th in the FBS in sacks with 35.
In 2010, Aranda's Hawai`i defense led the nation in turnovers caused (38), while ranking second in the nation in interceptions (23) and ninth in fumbles recovered (15), as well as tying the school record for most defensive touchdowns with five.
Prior to Hawai`i, Aranda coached at Delta State University in 2007, where he served as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Following the season, he signed on to become Southern Utah's defensive coordinator for new head coach Ed Lamb and was on the job for one month before head coach Greg McMackin called and asked Aranda to join the Hawai`i staff.
In one year at Delta State, Aranda helped the school win the Gulf South Conference and lead NCAA Division II in pass efficiency defense, ranking second in total and scoring defense, and third in run defense.
Before Delta State, Aranda spent two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at his alma mater, California Lutheran, where the Kingsmen led the conference in scoring defense and total defense. It was his second go-around with California Lutheran after serving as an assistant from 1996-99, while finishing his degree.
From 2002-03, Aranda was the linebackers coach at the University of Houston. Prior to that, he was a graduate assistant at Texas Tech.
After he graduated from Redlands High School in California in 1994, numerous surgeries followed and ended his playing career. In 1995, he started his coaching resume at Redlands as an assistant coach. Aranda graduated from California Lutheran in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. In 2002, he earned his master's degree in interdisciplinary studies at Texas Tech.
Aranda and his wife, Dione, have two daughters, Jaelyn and Jordyn, and a son, Ronin.