LSU has hired Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to fill the same position, the Tigers announced Friday night.
Aranda replaces Kevin Steele, who left LSU after one season for the defensive coordinator position at Auburn earlier this week. ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg first reported LSU's hire, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus also confirmed that Aranda is headed to Baton Rouge.
Terms of Aranda's contract with LSU were not disclosed. According to USA Today, Aranda made $520,000 annually at Wisconsin and had a base salary of $300,000. Those figures ranked him 64th among all assistants in college football and 12th in the Big Ten.
"This is a great hire for us," LSU head coach Les Miles said in a release by the Tigers. "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."
UW loses Aranda
Badgers react to Dave Aranda's departure
A number of Wisconsin players took to Twitter to react to the news of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda leaving for LSU.
UW loses Aranda
Aranda also met with Miles last year when LSU was seeking to replace former defensive coordinator John Chavis, who left for Texas A&M. According to The Advocate, Aranda was one of six candidates Miles met with when seeking Chavis's replacement. Specifically, The Advocate reports citing recently-obtained court documents, Aranda and Miles met Jan. 11 in Chicago for the last face-to-face interview Miles had with a candidate before Steele was hired by LSU two days later.
Aranda's three years leading the Wisconsin defense may be the best in school history. After following Gary Andersen from Utah State to Wisconsin before the 2013 season, Aranda transitioned UW's scheme to a 3-4 from a 4-3. Heading into the 2015 Holiday Bowl, Aranda's defenses allowed an average of 16.9 points per game since the 2013 season -- second-best in the nation behind Alabama. The Badgers have also allowed only 289.4 yards per game, which leads the nation.
"Dave will bring different packages and an attacking style to the field," Miles also said in the release. "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."
This season, Aranda's defense has only given up 13.7 points per game -- second-best in the nation behind Alabama -- and only 268.5 yards per game, No. 3 in the nation.
Wisconsin won't forget Aranda's contributions any time soon, and will actually see him again soon: the Badgers take on the Tigers at Lambeau Field on Sept. 3 to start the 2016 season.
Considering Wisconsin's consistently high-performing defense and Aranda's positive reputation in Madison, he was widely tabbed as a coordinator on the rise entering this season. Once defensive coordinator positions began opening up late in this season, Wisconsin fans were on edge waiting to see if he would remain with the Badgers. Several openings filled, initially lending hope before LSU made its move.
Once news of Aranda's departure hit Twitter, a number of Wisconsin players shared their thoughts.
Nothing but Respect for Coach Aranda and the job he has done here at UW. He's made me into a better player and person. #BeatLSU— Vince Biegel (@VinceBiegel) January 2, 2016
Coaches come and go so✌ ️— Bobby (@Rob_wheels) January 2, 2016
Major Respect for Coach Aranda. Gave me a shot from the jump and stuck with me through the Ups & the downs ! Nothing but love.— Sojourn Shelton II (@_SDS8) January 2, 2016
Appreciate everything that man has done for us. Nothing but respect for Coach Aranda.— T.J. Edwards (@TJEdwards8) January 2, 2016
Best of luck to Coach Aranda. LSU got a hell of a DC tonight.— Nick Thomas (@44NThomas) January 2, 2016