Baylor football coach Dave Aranda is entering his first full month as head coach of the football program in Waco after helping lead LSU to a national championship in January.
Aranda sat down with Texas Football at the Lone Star Coaching Clinic in College Station over the weekend for a Q+A session. He discussed a variety of topics, including becoming a head coach for the first time, the timing of the hire and coaching against some old friends from college and earlier stops.
Texas Football: First of all, congratulations on the job and welcome back to the state of Texas. What made this the right time to leave LSU and pursue a head coaching job?
Dave Aranda: "I just feel like the great coaches I’ve been under and the amount of I’ve been able to learn, I specifically think of Coach Orgeron, and just the daily lessons I can take there. You know when you’re ready to be a head coach, I feel, because you’re paying attention to all the details that a head coach has got to be able to maneuver through every day. I found myself doing that quite a bit, and I’m really excited for the opportunity I have now at Baylor."
TF: Did the timing of the national championship make things difficult when searching for a job? Did Matt Rhule leaving when he did maybe help things line up perfectly in a way?
DA: "The thing I’d always heard about these opportunities is that they’d always come on their own time. When they do come, they move fast, and I found that to be true. Again, just real blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with Mack Rhoades and Jeremiah Dickey and just the team there at Baylor on the administration side. I was just so impressed with quality people and a great approach and I really just felt like it was a great fit. I was very honored to be told that I was the choice. We’re just about to get back into ball so the opportunity to have a great staff was something I was excited about and the opportunity to get a great recruiting class was fun as well, but really looking forward to getting around our team and develop the Baylor 2020 football team."
TF: How exactly did you connect with Larry Fedora and what made him the right fit for the offensive coordinator job?
DA: "I had always respected Coach Fedora and his ability to create explosive offense. Just from knowing of him and just his offenses and the track record of success, having spoken with him before, I just thought he was a really great fit. I think he’s had opportunities and hasn’t jumped on them, but I’m glad he jumped on ours."
TF: You mentioned wanting to speak at the Lone Star Clinic back during your introductory press conference. Why was making it here such a priority for you?
DA: "I’ve got such success for the Texas high school coaches and respect for coaching in general in this state. Just to be around these guys and be able to learn myself and meet up with old friends and really build some new friendships, any time you have the opportunity to do that, you want to be all-in if you can."
TF: What made Baylor the right fit as a head coach?
DA: "It felt like a great fit. Just the mission statement, the embrace of Christian faith, the importance of strong academic track record and the ability to win a national championship, I think you have those things at Baylor. Just talking to people, just the fit felt right. In your gut, it felt like where you needed to be. I’m thankful it worked out."
TF: How were you able to draw some of the more sought-after assistant coaching candidates to your staff at Baylor?
DA: "I’m just blessed. They really looked at Baylor and saw the opportunity that is there and they looked at the quality of people that are on campus. They looked at the ability to be in the Central Texas area and the ability to recruit Dallas, Houston, Austin, West Texas, just all of it from that center. The ability to be in Central Texas and recruit the great state of Texas, I think they all saw that. Then I think they wanted to be somewhere with your faith out in front as well and coach at a place where the student-athlete is important. All around, it’s a great fit."
TF: When you take over a new program as a defense-first head coach, does it provide an advantage to go somewhere that already has a strong defensive culture?
DA: "I think it’s a plus. I think you’re looking at a team that has a strong culture in general. I just have so much respect for Coach Rhule and what he built, what he was able to instill. Very very impressed. I’ve talked to coach a couple times and told him that. For me to come in after his tenure at Baylor and be able to try and lead this team heading forward, I’ve got the advantage of following Coach Rhule and just the team concept and cohesiveness that I’m looking at day to day. I’m blessed to be in that role and I think we can work together to take the next step."
TF: You have long standing relationships with both Tom Herman from college and Matt Wells from your time at Utah State. What is the feeling knowing that all of you are Big 12 head coaches all these years later?
DA: "It’s pretty cool. We’re good friends. Prior to playing Oklahoma I was talking with both those guys quite a bit. I value their friendship and I’ve got a lot of respect for them as coaches. It seems like you come full-circle with a lot of this stuff. I’m just looking forward to competing against them because I know they have that date circled like I do."
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