Former Nevada baseball coach Jay Johnson was named the head coach at LSU on Friday.
Johnson, who was the Wolf Pack's head coach from 2014-15, had held Arizona's top job the last six seasons, which included two College World Series appearances. LSU is considered one of the nation's top baseball jobs.
“LSU Baseball is the premier program in the nation, and the interest we received from great coaches across the country was significant,” LSU AD Scott Woodward said in a news release. “Ultimately, Jay’s track record of postseason success, explosive lineups, and highly-ranked recruiting classes set him apart from the field. He’s made an immediate impact at every program he’s led, and he’s one of the most energetic, innovative and focused coaches in America. I am confident he is ready to add to our extensive championship tradition at LSU, and we welcome Jay and Maureen to Baton Rouge.”
Johnson replaces Paul Mainieri, who retired after this season. Following stints at Air Force and Notre Dame, Mainieri was hired by LSU in 2007. He won four SEC titles and the 2009 national championship. The Tigers have won six national titles since 1991.
“I am humbled and honored to be the head baseball coach at LSU and serve as the steward of the next generation of national champions,” Johnson said in a news release. “LSU is a phenomenal university and athletics department, and I am very thankful to Scott Woodward and Stephanie Rempe for entrusting me to lead this storied program into its next winning chapter. I view this as the opportunity of my lifetime and will do everything in my power to have our team playing a brand of baseball that makes everyone at LSU, the Baton Rouge community, and the entire state of Louisiana incredibly proud. Geaux Tigers!”
Johnson was Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth's first head-coach hiring after taking over the Wolf Pack athletic department in April 2013. Johnson went 72-42 overall and 37-22 in the Mountain West in two seasons. That included a 41-15 campaign in 2015 in which his team won the school's first MW title in any sport. Nevada was snubbed by the NCAA selection committee that season, and Johnson left for Arizona a few weeks later.
In 2016, Johnson became the fifth coach – and first since 1994 – to lead his team to the College World Series finals in his first season, eventually losing to Coastal Carolina. Arizona returned to the College World Series this season. The Wildcats went 208-114 under Johnson and 82-67 in the Pac-12 with one conference championship, that coming this year.
Before being hired by Nevada, Johnson was the associate head coach at the University of San Diego from 2006-13 where he was a heralded recruiter and expert hitting coach. A native of Oroville, Calif., Johnson is the 26th head coach in LSU baseball history. Johnson and his wife Maureen were married in 2016. Johnson met Maureen at Nevada when she served as the Wolf Pack's director of compliance.
The 44-year-old Johnson was making roughly $900,000 per year at Arizona. With two years left on his contract, he has a $1.09 million buyout he must pay the Wildcats. LSU is expected to pay Johnson around $1.5 million per season, according to the Baton Rouge media reports.