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After three seasons in Wisconsin, Dave Aranda is heading to LSU as the Tigers defensive coordinator

After turning Wisconsin in a feared 3-4 defense, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has been hired by LSU head coach Les Miles for the same position.

MADISON – After turning Wisconsin’s 4-3 bend-but-don’t-break defense into a feared 3-4 unit, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is cashing in on his big payday. 

Aranda will be hired as the defensive coordinator at LSU under Les Miles. Aranda replaces Kevin Steele, who left for the defensive coordinator job at Auburn.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

“This is a great hire for us,” Miles said in a statement. “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.”

Aranda was paid $520,000 annually at Wisconsin, including a base salary of $300,000. According to USA Today, Aranda entered the 2015 season 64th nationally in assistant pay, including 12th among Big Ten assistants. He’s expected to make nearly double that in Baton Rouge.

Coming from Hawaii to run the defense on Gary Andersen’s staff, Aranda made the calculated decision to switch UW from a 4-3 defense it had run for decades into the 3-4. Despite having multiple players playing new positions, UW had top 20 defenses each of the previous two seasons.

Despite offers to go elsewhere, Aranda expressed a strong desire to remain at Wisconsin on Paul Chryst’s first staff. It turned out to be a wise decision for Chryst, as Wisconsin ranks No. 2 in the FBS in scoring defense at 13.7 points per game, third in total defense (268.5), fourth in rushing defense (95.4) and seventh in pass defense (173.2) this season.

In Aranda’s three seasons, the Badgers rank in the top 10 in total, rushing and pass defense and have allowed just 78 offensive touchdowns, the second-fewest in the FBS since the start of the 2013 season. Only Alabama (64) has allowed fewer.

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. In an ironic twist of fate, Wisconsin and LSU open the 2016 season at Lambeau Field Sept.3.

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 expected to add to that resume in the coming months with Big Ten linebacker of the year Joe Schobert and senior safety Michael Caputo.

"He's done some exceptional things," 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."

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