Aranda to take over play-calling duties on defense, replace Grimes in 2024

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Baylor is retaining head football coach Dave Aranda for 2024, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be the same-look Bears, according to sources.

Expect Baylor to overhaul the offense by replacing Jeff Grimes with a new coordinator. Expect candidates with “head coaching experience and an explosive offensive style” to be the focus. Aranda is also expected to take over the play-calling duties on defense while keeping Matt Powledge in place as coordinator. 

Baylor only averaged 23.1 points per game offensively in 2023 after averaging over 30 points in the first two seasons under Grimes. The Bears averaged 31.6 points per game during the 12-win 2021 campaign that included a Big 12 championship and a win in the Sugar Bowl. With Aranda controlling the defense, he’ll want an offensive coordinator with experience running a football team. Names to monitor here include Matt Wells, Dino Babers, Sean Lewis, and Jake Spavital. 

Baylor’s 2021 success was less about offense and more about a stingy defense that allowed the Bears to finish 4-1 in one-possession games and 12-1 in contests allowing fewer than 30 points. The 2021 defense only allowed 30 points once in a two-point loss to TCU. That unit allowed 18.3 points per game in 2021. That number grew to 26.8 in 2022 and 33.3 in 2023 as Powledge called plays for the first time in his career.

Baylor is also investing heavily into the NIL landscape. The university is helping with fundraising and the Bears expect to become players in a space that Aranda wanted to avoid the last couple of cycles. Baylor is implementing an “aggressive gameplan moving forward” that represents a “dramatic shift” for the program. Baylor is also completing a $90 million player development center.

Baylor finished the season 3-9 after a home loss to West Virginia – its seventh at McLane Stadium in 2023. Aranda is 23-25 in four years at the helm. The Bears are betting on continuity at the top to return to Big 12 contention and they believe a young roster who went through growing pains in 2023 creates momentum in 2024. After all, Baylor jumped from 2-7 in Aranda’s first year (2020) to 12 wins in the next. 

Freshmen accounted for over 4,000 snaps this season, which led the Big 12 by over 1,000 snaps. A conference-high 46 percent of their snaps were by underclassmen. The transfer portal opens Dec. 4 and the hope is that retaining Aranda, and the culture he’s instilled inside the locker room, keeps the roster together for a real run in 2024. 

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