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Report: Vanderbilt expected to hire Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea as next head coach

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt’s search for a new head coach is reportedly over. The Commodores will hire Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea, per Pat Forde and others this morning.

Vanderbilt fired Derek Mason in the midst of a winless season. Mason found a little success early on in Nashville, but things quickly fell apart over the last two seasons.

Lea played fullback at Vanderbilt from 2002-2004. He entered the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at UCLA in 2006, before becoming a linebackers coach at South Dakota State in 2007. He worked his way up the ladder as a linebackers coach over the next decade, making stops at UCLA, Bowling Green, Syracuse and Wake Forest, before ultimately landing on Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame.

He was introduced as the defensive coordinator for Kelly in 2018, where he has remained over the last two seasons. Lea took over for Mike Elko, who left to take the same job at Texas A&M.

It’s another head coach with a defensive background for Vanderbilt, which once again is trying to climb out of the basement of the SEC East. Charlotte’s Will Healy, Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell and Army’s Jeff Monken were other rumored candidates for the opening. Lea is 38 years old.

Auburn is now currently the only remaining job open in the SEC. South Carolina moved on from Will Muschamp and hired Shane Beamer last week. We’ll see if we get anymore action on the coaching carousel over the next week, with the regular season coming to a close on Saturday.