LSU baseball has reportedly hired Jay Johnson, officially ending their month-long search for a new coach, The Athletic reported Thursday evening.
Johnson has led the Arizona Wildcats since 2015 and reached two College World Series. The 44-year old coach went 208-114 in six years, with the recent 2021 team finishing with a 45-18 record and a Pac-12 Championship.
“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 statement. “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."
Johnson leaves the conference after six seasons to join LSU after recently being named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. During his first season with Arizona, the team boasted a 49-24 record, the second-most in its school history while achieving runner-up in the College World Series.
Johnson interviewed for the gig via zoom on June 15, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported. That was a couple days after the Wildcats' victory in the Super Regionals and four days before Arizona opened College World Series play against Vanderbilt.
“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 wrote in a statement. “Ultimately, Jay’s track record of postseason success, explosive lineups, and highly-ranked recruiting classes set him apart from the field."
Johnson and LSU agreed to a five-year deal worth a total of $6.5 million, according to a preliminary term sheet the university released. On an annual basis, he'll earn $1.2-1.4 million, roughly the same amount as ex-coach Paul Mainieri.
"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," Woodward said. "I am confident he is ready to add to our extensive championship tradition at LSU, and we welcome Jay and Maureen to Baton Rouge.”
At Arizona, Johnson reportedly earned $850,000 annually. His LSU contract puts about $750,000 toward his buyout. If his team wins an SEC Championship, he'll receive a $20,000 bonus, and if his team wins a national championship, he'll receive $100,000.
The coach will now take on a six-time national championship program who hasn’t returned to the College World Series since 2017. Johnson will find a multitude of young talent on the Tigers’ roster, but also find gaps to fill from the probable departure of upperclassmen Landon Marceaux, Gavin Dugas, AJ Labas and a few more.
LSU’s other considerations reportedly included Oregon State coach Pat Casey, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett and East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin.
"I view this as the opportunity of my lifetime," Johnson said, "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."