Skip to main content

Update on LSU's defensive coordinator search

Ed Orgeron's affinity for the NFL is well documented and well reasoned.

Orgeron plucked Joe Brady out of relative anonymity in 2019, and the then-29-year-old New Orleans Saints offensive assistant immediately turned LSU into national champions. When Brady left for the Carolina Panthers, Orgeron hired Scott Linehan as his replacement.

The Linehan move wasn't a match, so Orgeron went back to the well in hiring Brady's Carolina colleagues Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas as offensive coordinator and pass game coordinator, respectively. (Mangas was on LSU's support staff in 2019.)

Now that NFL influence could extend to the other side of the ball. Sources tell FootballScoop LSU plans to request permission to interview New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen to be the Tigers' next defensive coordinator. Nielsen is under contract, and so there's always a chance the club could deny him permission to interview.

Nielsen has spent the past four years with the Saints, turning the club's D-line into one of the best in the NFL, and prior to that spent four years as the run game coordinator, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at NC State. His final year in Raleigh saw the Wolfpack rank eighth in the country in rushing defense while defensive end Bradley Chubb earned All-ACC marks.

His appeal to Orgeron isn't just as an NFL guy. In fact, it's just a bonus. Nielsen played defensive tackle for Orgeron at USC in the late 1990s and early 2000s and later volunteered under him in 2002. Nielsen then served as Orgeron's defensive line coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07. While much of Orgeron's tenure in Oxford was a mess, the defensive line was not: Ole Miss led the SEC in sacks twice in three seasons under Orgeron and Nielsen's watch.

After the Ole Miss staff was dismissed following the 2007 season, Nielsen coached at Central Connecticut State, UT-Martin and Northern Illinois before arriving at NC State.

While there are other candidates under consideration, sources say Nielsen could be LSU's next defensive coordinator if the interview happens and goes well.

In the meantime, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.