NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville native Clark Lea is the 29th head football coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
New Athletic Director Candice Lee made the announcement Monday evening after numerous reports spilled out Monday morning that Lea was the Commodores guy to replace Derek Mason.
Lea played for the Commodores as fullback from 2002-2004 and has spent the last three years as the defensive coordinator for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He will be officially introduced by Vanderbilt sometime next week.
“Clark Lea is the leader we trust to continue the challenging but exciting work that will elevate the Vanderbilt football program to unprecedented heights,” Lee said. “He embodies the demonstrated commitment to success, the integrity and the strategic thinking that it takes to build a winning football program, and help our student-athletes reach their full potential. “
Clark will not be taking over the reins at Vanderbilt until the Fighting Irish finish their season. They are 10-0 this year and headed for the ACC title game and probably the College Football Playoff.
Lee said she supports the delay, “It is very important to all of us, and especially Clark, that he be able to fulfill his obligations with the Notre Dame program and its student-athletes as they prepare to face Clemson in the ACC title game for a berth in the College Football Playoff. The dedication and loyalty demonstrated by Clark exemplify his character, and what he will be for the Vanderbilt program.”
Lea returns to Nashville having coached in eight bowl games, including one College Football Playoff appearance at Notre Dame.
“I’m excited to come back to Vanderbilt to lead a program, at an institution and in a city, that gave me so much and shaped who I am today,” Lea said. “Vanderbilt is a special place with a competitive drive that I believe can translate into winning.”
Notre Dame’s defense ranks 14th nationally allowing just over 300 yards per game and the Irish rank 12th giving up just over 17 points a game.
Lea attended Montgomery Bell Academy and has three children, Clark III, Jack and Mara, with his wife, Allison.