BATON ROUGE - LSU found the money.
Athletic director Joe Alleva and football coach Ed Orgeron dialed up an all-out blitz package to prevent Texas A&M from hiring LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda on Wednesday.
But it will cost Alleva $10 million a year over the next four years for Aranda, who will make $2.5 million a year in the guaranteed contract, according to ESPN. Aranda, who just finished his second season at LSU, was already the highest-paid assistant coach in college football at $1.8 million a year.
The Aggies, who have lost to the Tigers six out of six times in football since joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012, were trying to hire their second defensive coordinator away from LSU in three years. After the 2014 season, the Aggies hired LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis when Alleva decided not to give Chavis the raise he was requesting — a raise that then LSU coach Les Miles wanted to give Chavis, but was overruled by Alleva. Miles tried to convince Chavis to stay one last time in the team hotel not long after LSU's last-minute, 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30, 2014, to no avail.
After LSU's last-minute, 21-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl on Monday, Texas A&M made a strong push to get one of the hottest defensive coordinators in college football in Aranda. He had reportedly turned down overtures from Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward and new coach Jimbo Fisher last week, but the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that Aranda was just putting off A&M until after the bowl game. The Chronicle also reported that Aranda would accept the job soon and added that Aranda had already decided to retain A&M defensive line coach Terry Price from former head coach Kevin Sumlin's staff.
Then LSU blitzed.
"I'm very happy to report Dave Aranda has agreed to be with our program for years to come," Orgeron tweeted Wednesday night and thanked Alleva for "making this happen."
Woodward, a Baton Rouge native and former vice chancellor at LSU from 2000-04, just last month hired Fisher away from the head coaching job at Florida State, where he won the national championship in the 2013 season. Fisher, who was LSU's offensive coordinator from 2000-06, was a head coaching target of Alleva after the 2015 and '16 seasons.
Woodward got Fisher from Florida State for 7.5 million a year for 10 years - the largest contract in college football history at the moment. That came after LSU likely could have hired Fisher for approximately $6 million a year in December of 2015 and for a figure closer to $7 million a year in 2016. But LSU president F. King Alexander overruled Alleva in 2015 to retain Miles, and Alleva balked at the longevity of the contract desired by Fisher via agent Jimmy Sexton after the 2016 season.
LSU representatives had first spoken with Sexton about possibly hiring Fisher late in the 2015 season when Miles was nearly fired by Alleva. Miles saved his job with a 19-7 win over Texas A&M in the regular season finale. Miles was then fired early in the 2016 season and replaced by Orgeron - LSU's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at the time - on an interim basis. Orgeron got the full-time position ... after a 54-39 win at Texas A&M.
Had LSU not retained Aranda, Orgeron would be searching for two coordinators as he has fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada, according to a USA Today Network report. Canada stayed on through the Citrus Bowl.
Meanwhile, Alleva is starting to lose the money he saved in the bargain hire of Orgeron at 3.5 million a year over Fisher, who would have received between $6 and $7 million as LSU's coach in 2015 or 2016. In addition to Aranda's new deal, Alleva will have to pay the remainder of Canada's guaranteed contract, which will be a total of $3 million minus what Canada's salary will be at a new job, should he get one. Canada was the fourth highest-paid assistant coach in college football last season at $1.5 million a year. He has two years left on his deal.
Orgeron also has plans to hire a special teams coordinator, which is expected to be former Saints special teams coordinator Greg McMahon, who worked as a consultant coach with LSU in the 2017 season.
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