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With Sam Nader nearing retirement, LSU turning to familiar face

Sam Nader's a name synonymous with LSU football, even as Nader has focused wholly on the service of the school, its football program and, most importantly, its athletes and coaches.

To know LSU football, and the program's decorated history spanning to the 1970s, is to know Nader's place in that very program.

Junior varsity football. Impromptu deliverer of pre-game speeches. Equipment man, if needed. Confidante to all the head coaches, from Nick Saban to Les Miles to Ed Orgeron in recent years, and all of that coaches preceding them in the decades prior.

Ross Dellenger wrote a great piece for Sports Illustrated last year, "Meet Sam Nader -- The man behind LSU football for the last 45 years."

Nader's on the verge of retiring from LSU, at least in his role as assistant athletics director for football.

And a familiar name, with shorter roots but intricate branches in LSU's more recent successes, is again returning to the Bayou Bengals.

Sources tell FootballScoop Austin Thomas will be coming back to his second home, the place of his career's steepest upward arc. A Nashville native and University of Tennessee grad who's served key roles in both Miles' and Orgeron's tenures in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Thomas is returning in a senior role to LSU after helping Dave Aranda launch his head coaching career at Baylor for roughly the past 12 months.

Thomas recently elicited interest from a number of programs with first-year head coaches, including multiple spots in the Southeastern Conference. He's also been on the radar of a number of NFL teams in recent years after Thomas' ability to help introduce the “general manager” role in college football with his blend of both front-office and football recruiting-office areas of expertise, tracing all the way to the University of Tennessee as an graduate student and also on staffs at the University of Southern California.

Sources tell FootballScoop these changes, along with others at LSU will all be formalized later in January.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.