According to multiple sources and outlets, Lea will return to his alma mater to become its next head coach after a search that include Jeff Monken and a handful of others.
Notre Dame's Clark Lea expected to be hired as new Vanderbilt football coach, The Tennessean has confirmed.— Adam Sparks (@AdamSparks) December 14, 2020
Announcement could come as early as today.
(@PeteThamel first reported it.)
https://t.co/XfulrCECxe via @tennessean
Vanderbilt parted ways with Derek Mason after 7 years of losing records. Mason was a defensive coordinator at Stanford, and the thought here by most schools in this position, would be to go with an offensive minded coach the next time around — but then there’s Clark Lea.
Lea has always been massively impressive when he was given the chance to speak. As others have said, he just has a unique and special mind about the game of football and how to coach that game to young adults. It really was just a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job, and the Vanderbilt position held special meaning to him as a Nashville native and as a former fullback for the Commodores.
Lea came to Notre Dame from Wake Forest with Mike Elko before the 2017 season as part of the Brian Kelly resurrection program after the disastrous 2016 campaign. Elko was named the defensive coordinator, and Lea was his protege as a linebackers coach. The 2017 season saw massive improvement on the defensive side of the ball, and Mike Elko left for more money with the Texas A&M Aggies and Jimbo Fisher. It didn’t take very long for Kelly to name Lea as the next defensive coordinator — even though he had never been one before.
The move paid off for Notre Dame and for Lea as the Irish have been incredible on defense over the past three years, and is the backbone of a team that has two undefeated regular seasons, and is looking at its second berth in the college football playoff.
Lea is expected to stay with the Irish through the end of the season — which means he will be there for the ACC Championship game, and the playoffs should Notre Dame be a top 4 team.
He will split duties between Notre Dame and Vanderbilt over the next few weeks.