Vanderbilt reportedly zeroes in on top candidate, hire to be finalized in days
Vanderbilt is zeroing in on a hire for its next head football coach, and the decision could be finalized in the coming days, according to a report from Chris Low of ESPN.
Clark Lea, a Nashville native who played at Vanderbilt and is now the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, is the name being reported, though Buffalo’s Lance Leipold is also in the mix.
Lea has never been a head coach, but he’s been on Notre Dame’s staff since 2017, serving as the linebackers coach for one season before moving into his current role as defensive coordinator in 2018. He’s also been an assistant at UCLA, South Dakota State, Bowling Green, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
Lea is a 2004 graduate of Vanderbilt. He earned three letters in football and was a two-time All-SEC Academic Team pick.
Before Vanderbilt, he was a baseball player in 2001 at Birmingham-Southern, then in 2002 at Belmont before he became a fullback at Vanderbilt.
In 2005, Lea was a finalist for the John Wooden Cup and the recipient of the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. He also earned his master’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt in 2007.
After Vanderbilt, Lea became a graduate assistant coach at UCLA in 2006 before moving to South Dakota State for two seasons (2007-08).
Here are the schools where he’s coached and positions:
2006 UCLA Graduate Assistant (Defense)
2007 South Dakota State Linebackers
2008 South Dakota State Recruiting Coordinator/Linebackers
2009 UCLA Graduate Assistant (Linebackers)
2010 UCLA Linebackers
2011 UCLA Linebackers
2012 Bowling Green Linebackers
2013 Syracuse Linebackers
2014 Syracuse Linebackers
2015 Syracuse Linebackers
2016 Wake Forest Linebackers
2017 Notre Dame Linebackers
2018 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers