NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt is negotiating a deal with Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea to make the former Commodores player its new head coach.

Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press details of a contract were still being worked out but Lea was the school's top choice.

Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the school was not yet prepared to make an announcement.

The 38-year-old Lea is a Nashville native who walked on at Vanderbilt as a player. He has been Notre Dame's defensive coordinator for the last three seasons. The Fighting Irish made the College Football Playoff in 2018 behind a defense that ranked eighth in the nation in yards allowed per play (4.53).

Notre Dame is on the verge of making the playoff again. The second-ranked Irish (10-0) play No. 4 Clemson on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Vanderbilt fired Derek Mason on Nov. 29 after he went 27-55 in seven seasons, including losing the first eight games of 2020. The Commodores (0-9) currently have lost 13 Southeastern Conference games, the program's longest skid since dropping 23 straight between 2000 and 2003.

The football stadium had its last major renovation in 1981. Vanderbilt chancellor Daniel Diermeier, who started July 1, and athletic director Candice Lee, who had the interim title taken off in May, plan to involve the next coach in the university's plans for upgrading facilities.


AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.


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