LSU makes ex-Mizzou DC Blake Baker highest-paid assistant coach

Brian Kelly and LSU named Missouri’s Blake Baker as their new defensive coordinator on Friday.

The three-year deal, which is expected to pay Baker $2.5 million per year, will make him the highest-paid assistant in college football, a source told ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Baker, who joined Eli Drinkwitz’s staff at Columbia as defensive coordinator and safeties coach ahead of the 2022 season, replaces Matt House.

“Blake brings a wealth of experience and success as a defensive coordinator throughout his career, including the last two years in the SEC at Missouri,” Kelly said in a statement released by the school. “His ability to develop and motivate his players as they put together successful defenses sets him apart in the field.”

Baker has also led defenses at both Louisiana Tech (2015-2018) and Miami (2019-20). His hiring marks a return to Baton Rouge, where he coached linebackers under Ed Orgeron in 2021.

Kelly and the program announced Wednesday that House, along with three other coaches (safeties coach Kerry Cooks, cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples and defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey) would not return in 2024.

Baker had previously signed a contract extension at Missouri that raised his salary to $1.1 million for the 2023 season. His $1 million buyout is very high for an assistant coach.

Under his direction, Missouri’s defense finished fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (20.8 YPG), while its total defense (336.1 YPG) and rushing defense (122.8 YPG) were fifth in the league. Missouri won 11 games last season and defeated Ohio State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

Returning to LSU after two seasons away, Baker will be asked to help rebuild the confidence of a unit that fell short of expectations.

Kelly has a pair of 10-3 seasons under his belt so far at LSU, but the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain as Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels led an electric offense.

The Tigers defense finished 105th nationally in total defense (416.6 YPG) and allowed 28 points per game, tied for 78th in the FBS with Akron.

En route to losing games against Florida State, Ole Miss and Alabama, LSU’s defense particularly struggled, allowing at least 42 points and giving up at least 494 total yards in each of the three games.

LSU opens its 2024 season against USC in the Vegas Kickoff Classic on September 1.

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