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Tuesday Afternoon Updates: Coaching Staff Hires; Aranda On the Road

If it looks to you like there’s a flurry of sudden activity for Baylor Football, you are not alone.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Louisiana v Mississippi State Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I was hoping that there would be new photos in the editor on Chorus (the SBNation platform) today after yesterday’s introductory press conference, but alas that is not the case. So I went with someone new instead.

One of the things people have been most interested in seeing since the Aranda hire was made official was how he’d fill his staff, including whether he’d keep any of the remaining coach that Rhule didn’t take (which isn’t very many, honestly) to Carolina. We have some news on that plus a defensive coordinator hire and rumors about other potential hires.

I’ll start with our new defensive coordinator, Ron Roberts from UL-Lafayette, which I will call ULaLa until I get a court order telling me otherwise regardless of their branding strategies. After David Smoak of ESPN 1660 in Waco floated his name last week—check my thread when the hire was announced—ESPN’s Adam Rittenburg and FOX’s Bruce Feldman confirmed earlier today that Roberts will be making the jump from the Ragin’ Cajuns to the Bears. Roberts is considered a mentor to Coach Aranda, as well as numerous other up-and-coming coaches, and was Aranda’s boss at Delta State in the early 2000s. Roberts has been the DC at ULaLa since Billy Napier got there two years ago, and in that time The Athletic’s Chris Vannini notes that Roberts improved the defense from 105th in scoring defense to 18th this season. Since I prefer advanced, pace-adjusted statistics, I would note that the Ragin’ Cajuns were 51st in DFEI this year according to where they were 120th in 2017 prior to Roberts’ arrival. That’s a pretty incredible increase in two years. If you want more information on Roberts, who is apparently considered quite the defensive guru, here’s a couple of tweets with thoughts and links from Cameron Soran and our own Travis Roeder. I am intrigued to see what the familiarity between Aranda and Robert yields in terms of scheme.

With Roberts in the fold at DC, it remains to be seen whether Bill Busch will come over with Aranda as was rumored previously. I doubt it at this point.

Moving on to other assistance coaches, we’re still waiting to hear about potential OC candidates since it appears Utah’s Andy Ludwig is out of the running for one reason or another, and I don’t have any solid information to share on that front right now. It seems like there’s a growing sentiment that Baylor may keep OC/RB coach Jeff Nixon around in one capacity or another, a sentiment supported by the fact that he was on the road recruiting as of today (more on that below).

While we can’t say anything for sure about Nixon, both Smoak and SicEm365 are reporting that OL coach (and former Baylor QB) Shawn Bell will remain on the staff in some capacity, as will David Wetzel, the former San Antonio HS coach that served as Associate AD for Football Relations under Coach Rhule. Wetzel, if you recall, was the President of the Texas High School Coaches Associate prior to coming to Baylor, which leads me to the first visit that our coaching staff appears to have made today—to Round Rock HS and then on to the THSCA board meeting!

You should note that all three of Baylor’s former TXHSFB coaches—Bell, Joey McGuire, and Wetzel—are in this picture with Aranda. They also accompanied him on the next stop to kiss the ring with the THSCA:

I thought it was brilliant that Rhule went out of his way to court the THSCA and its members when he got here, and I think it’s brilliant that Aranda appears to be doing the same now.

One rumor that is now circulating that is probably worth reporting is that Baylor is chasing Jorge Munoz, an offensive analyst at LSU that interviewed for the Oregon OC job before it went to Joe Moorhead. Strangely enough Munoz is another former ULaLa coach, having been the OC there under Hudspeth, Napier’s predecessor, before being demoted to WR coach and then moving to LSU to work with Joe Brady. He is considered by LSU insiders to have been integral to their success this season due to his work with Brady and Joe Burrow. He accompanied both to the Heisman Trophy presentation in December.

It’s unclear what Munoz’s role would be if Baylor were to be able to steal him away from Baton Rouge, but I would anticipate that it would involve an elevation to at least Passing-Game Coordinator and either QB or WR coach, one of the two. I don’t know if we would hire him to be the true OC, but I could see a Nixon/Munoz co-OC pairing if that’s what it took to get him. Aranda is obviously very familiar with him since both were at LSU. It is interesting to me that Munoz’s latest follow on Twitter is none other than Dave Aranda, although I can’t really tell when that happened. Munoz is @CoachMunoz13 if you want to look him up.

Literally as I was typing this article, Colt Barber of SicEm365 reported that another former LSU defensive coach—Dennis “Meatball” Johnson—will be joining Aranda’s staff at Baylor. Johnson played at LSU from 2009-2011 and joined their coaching staff in 2015. He was a graduate assistant working with LBs there in 2015 and 2016 before being elevated to DL coach in 2017 when Orgeron got the job full-time. That report by Sicem365 is now being called premature by Baylor’s 247Sports site, which says that Johnson is reportedly on the road recruiting for LSU today and nothing is final. Supposedly a dynamite recruiter—he was #1 in the country among assistant coaches at one point in 2017—particularly in Louisiana, Johnson would take Frank Okam’s spot as DL coach here since Okam followed Rhule to Carolina if, in fact, he comes to Waco. I’ll keep an eye on this one for additional confirmation and update as necessary/possible.

I was planning on including an updated coaching roster in this post, but that doesn’t seem necessary at this point since Roberts is the only official announcement of the day with a specified role already decided. Before anyone asks we don’t know yet if Joey McGuire is staying or not; reports are that Aranda really wants to keep him and is doing everything possible to make that happen, but nothing is final. I’d consider it a good sign that he was out visiting today with Aranda, Bell, and Wetzel, though.

More info to come as it becomes available.