Source: LSU baseball hiring Arizona's Jay Johnson as new coach

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE — LSU has named Arizona's Jay Johnson as its new baseball coach, a source with direct knowledge confirmed to The Daily Advertiser on Thursday.

The source requested anonymity because LSU is not expected to release the news until Friday.

Johnson, 44, has been the coach at Arizona since 2016. He replaces Paul Mainieri, 63, who retired for health reasons after his 15th season at LSU and 39th as a college coach.

Johnson earned $856,687 (after 20% COVID-19 pay reduction in effect from Aug. 10, 2020 through Dec. 27, 2020) for the 2020 school year. It included $302,300 of coach’s annual vesting in longevity fund units held by the University of Arizona Foundation on behalf of the athletics department, as well as $65,000 paid from an agreement with Nike.

Johnson just took the Wildcats to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, and was eliminated after two losses — 7-6 to Vanderbilt in 12 innings and 14-5 to Stanford on Monday. He was interviewed with LSU athletics director Scott Woodward on Tuesday, according to multiple sources. 

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Arizona (45-18) won the Pac-12 conference at 21-9 and reached the CWS by winning a home super regional over Ole Miss. Rebels  coach Mike Bianco, a former LSU player and assistant coach, interviewed for the LSU job on June 17 in Birmingham, Alabama, but did not get an offer, according to sources.

Sources previously told The Daily Advertiser that LSU interviewed East Carolina coach Cliff Goodwin, a former LSU assistant coach on June 17, and Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett this week.  

Woodward also interviewed former Oregon State coach Pat Casey on the weekend of June 5 and had an interest before that in Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan.

Johnson took his first Arizona team in 2016 to the CWS and reached the championship series before losing to Coastal Carolina and finishing the season at 49-24 with a third place finish in the Pac-12.

Arizona reached an NCAA regional in 2017, finishing 38-21 and fourth in the Pac-12 at 16-14. He missed NCAA postseasons in 2018 and '19 with 34-22 and 32-24 seasons and sixth place finishes in the Pac-12 at 14-16 and 15-14, respectively. He was 10-5 in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.

Johnson, a native of Oroville, California, previously coached at Nevada and Point Loma Nazarene.

Arizona coach Jay Johnson, center, celebrates with Cody Ramer, left, and Cesar Salazar after Arizona defeated Mississippi State 6-5 in 11 innings in an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, June 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)