7 fast facts: Get to know new Baylor football coach Dave Aranda
Hundreds of fans packed the Baylor Club on Monday for the press conference introducing new Baylor football head coach Dave Aranda. As we’re all becoming familiar with our new coach, here are seven things Baylor fans should know about Coach Aranda:
1. He’s a truly elite defensive coordinator. An ESPN analyst recently called Aranda “the best defensive mind in college football.” Over the last six seasons, Aranda’s defenses at LSU and Wisconsin ranked among the nation’s the top 12 in total defense five times. (That should continue Baylor’s recent trend; the Bears led the Big 12 in scoring defense in 2019.) Aranda has also sent 15 players to the NFL over the past three seasons.
2. He’s a teacher at heart. Those who know Aranda have referred to him as a professor, a philosopher, and one of the most cerebral men in the game. “Dave is an introvert, and he’s such a deep thinker,” says Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells, who coached with Aranda at Utah State. “The key to being great at [coaching] is individualizing your teaching to meet your student’s needs and their level of understanding… Dave does a really good job of that.”
3. He’s tough, and a hard worker. “No one was gonna outwork him,” recalls his high school coach, who remembers Aranda as a 140-pound linebacker who once played the second half of a playoff game with a broken clavicle. He toughed out multiple shoulder surgeries — so many that he couldn’t pass the physical he needed to join the Navy. (That disappointment ultimately led to his career in coaching.)
— Dave Aranda (@CoachDaveAranda) January 21, 2020
4. He has surprisingly strong ties to both Texas and the Big 12. A California native (who grew up speaking Spanish around the house), Aranda was a grad assistant at Texas Tech from 1999-2001, then spent the next two years as linebackers coach at Houston. Besides coaching with Wells at Utah State, he also worked for current Kansas head coach Les Miles at LSU.
5. Baylor was already on his radar — thanks to his daughter’s college search. At his introductory press conference, Aranda noted that Baylor was “already a favorite” of his oldest daughter. “I started to look at Baylor,” he said, “and I could see the Christian mission. I could see small classes. Education was important. … People valued Baylor University and the sports programs. I could see that they were winning on a big stage, at a high level, and they were doing it the right way.”
6. Aranda basically described the Baylor job as a calling. “When this job came open, I said, ‘This is in my heart. This is me. I feel like this is God talking to me,'” Aranda recalled Monday. “It just felt right. … To have the opportunity to coach with your Christian faith out front was a big pull. … At Baylor, I can coach being myself.”
7. A big part of what drew Aranda to Baylor was the team’s camaraderie. Aranda noted that when LSU was preparing to play Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, they watched video to see how Baylor had handled OU. “I could see the togetherness of the team. I could see the toughness of the team. I could see in between the white lines, the energy and the focus and the effort. … I could see guys bringing each other up. You saw love and you saw togetherness. You saw a team.”
Want to know more about Coach Aranda? Watch the complete introductory press conference, and/or read these features from Sports Illustrated and The Athletic. Then start making your plans to cheer on the Bears at McLane Stadium this fall; season tickets are on sale now!
Sic ’em, Coach Aranda!