LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini leaving program

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LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is leaving the program after one difficult season in which the Tigers allowed six opponents to gain more than 500 yards..

In a statement released by LSU on Monday, Pelini said he and head coach Ed Orgeron “mutually decided it’s best” to part ways.

“I am grateful to call Coach O a friend and I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to LSU, but I have decided to move on in my coaching career,” Pelini added.

Pelini, hired after Dave Aranda left the Tigers to become Baylor’s head coach, signed a four-year contract with LSU worth more than $9 million. He would still be owed nearly $7 million under the terms of his deal, but LSU said Pelini agreed to leave with a one-time payment that had not yet been disclosed.

Pelini was in his second stint as defensive coordinator at LSU, having served in the same capacity under Les Miles when the Tigers won a national title in the 2007 season. Pelini left LSU to become Nebraska’s head coach in 2008 and was Youngstown State’s head coach for five seasons before returning to LSU.

This year, he inherited a defense decimated by the 2020 NFL draft and subsequent opt-outs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSU was forced to play numerous freshmen and other players with relatively little experience, and coverage busts were frequent, with opposing players running free for big gains.

LSU allowed five opponents to score more than 40 points, starting with a season-opening 44-34 loss to Mississippi State in which the Bulldogs passed for 623 yards.

LSU allowed 650 total yards in a 55-17 loss to rival Alabama on Dec. 5.

However, the defense showed improvement in four of the last five games, three of which LSU won. The Tigers’ defense allowed only one touchdown in a loss at Texas A&M and created six turnovers in a victory over Mississippi last weekend.

“I was proud of how hard our team competed down stretch, the way our young guys stepped up and were developing and the overall direction we were headed,” Pelini said.