LSU's search for a new defensive coordinator continues on for another day. New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen will not, in fact, become the new DC for the Tigers, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. Rittenberg adds that Nielsen has been given a three-year extension by the Saints with the assistant head coach title to boot.
A Saints assistant since 2017, Nielsen reportedly informed coach Sean Payton of his interest in LSU's opening Monday following Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional round. LSU was in the process of "finalizing" a deal with Nielsen as recently as Monday evening, according to Jane Slater of the NFL Network. However, Slater also reported that language in Nielsen's contract with the Saints apparently did not support taking a job in the college ranks. Understandably, Nielsen -- or, rather, those representing him -- was about to object:
#LSU & Ryan Nielsen had verbally struck a deal, sources tell @SINow, but..— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) January 19, 2021
Citing language in his contract, Sean Payton declined to release him (this isn't the 1st time). LSU & Nielsen attorneys objected.
In the end, as @MikeTriplett reports, Nielsen gets a new deal with Saints
Though he's staying in the NFL, Nielsen spent most of his coaching career in college with ties to Ed Orgeron as a player at USC from 1998-2001 and again at Ole Miss from 2005-07. He was a one-time Broyles Award candidate for best assistant coach during his last college stop at NC State. This past year, the Saints finished with a top-five defense in yards per game allowed and against the run.
Nielsen would not have been the first big coordinator hire for LSU from the Saints organization. Joe Brady, a former Saints assistant from 2017-18, was the Broyles Award winner for top assistant coach as the Tigers' passing game coordinator in 2019. Brady is now the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers.
The Tigers are searching for a new defensive coordinator after Orgeron let go of Bo Pelini last month as part of broader coaching staff changes. One year after winning the College Football Playoff National Championship, the Tigers finished 5-5 while allowing nearly 35 points per game -- tied for 10th in the SEC. LSU was particularly abysmal against the pass, allowing an SEC-worst 323 yards through the air per game.