Lea, 38, oversees a Notre Dame defense ranked 12th nationally in defense (17.1 points per game) and 14th nationally in total defense (314.5 yards per game). The Irish have held seven of their 10 opponents this season to 21 points or less.
A native of Nashville, Lea played fullback at Vanderbilt after being transferred from Belmont, where he wrote in baseball. He started his college career in Birmingham Southern, where he also played baseball. Lea attended school in Nashville at Montgomery Bell Academy.
Lea, who was a finalist last year for the Boston College head coach position, joined the Notre Dame staff in 2017 as a linebacker coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator when Mike Elko left for Texas. A&M. Lea has also coached linebackers in Wake Forest, Syracuse, Bowling Green, South Dakota State and UCLA.
Lea would replace Derek Mason, who was fired earlier this season in his seventh year on the job. The Commodores are winless this season and Mason compiled a 27-55 record at Vanderbilt.
Other candidates Vanderbilt was considering for the job included Buffalo’s Lance Leipold, Army Jeff Monken, Charlotte’s Will Healy, former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and former Cincinnati Bengals assistant Jonathan Hayes.