Sep 29, 2018; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea watches warmups before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanderbilt Commodores announced on Monday night that they have hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea to be the school’s head football coach.

Vanderbilt has named Clark Lea the 29th head football coach in program history, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director Candice Lee announced Monday.

Lea, 38, is a Nashville native and played fullback at Vanderbilt from 2002-04. He’s served as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator since 2018, after being their linebackers coach in 2017. He’s also been a linebackers coach at South Dakota State (2007-08), UCLA (2010-11), Bowling Green (2012), Syracuse (2013-15).

The Fighting Irish are 10-0 and No. 2 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. They’re unbeaten thanks in large part to the Lea-led defense that is 12th in the nation in scoring defense (17.1 points per game) and 14th in total defense (314.5 yards per game).

Lea enters a *very* different situation in Vanderbilt. The Commodores (0-9) are winless this season, while every other SEC team has at least two victories. Vanderbilt last had a winning season (9-4) in 2013, when James Franklin (now at Penn State) was the head coach.

Vanderbilt fired head coach Derek Mason in November. The Commodores went 27-55 in Mason’s six seasons as head coach.

So, Lea has quite a challenge ahead, but he’ll surely have plenty of enthusiasm for his first head coaching job, and especially at the school he played for. And this is still an SEC school we’re talking about; perhaps Lea can make Vandy a much more appealing football destination for recruits.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at