Best offense should be a good defense for resurgent Baylor under new coach Dave Aranda

WACO, Texas -- For years, the Big 12 has been known as an offensively-driven league.

With the rise of multifaceted, wide-open, up-tempo attacks in the past two decades spearheaded by the likes of Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State -- and, at one point, Baylor -- the conference has piled up the points, but also the ridicule and snark from skeptics of its teams' perceived lack of defensive prowess.

In the past year, the pendulum swung back the other way at some schools. Resurgent Baylor served as ground zero, with the Bears leading the Big 12 in scoring defense in 2019, allowing only 19 points per game.

"I think that defense in this league is making a comeback," new Baylor coach Dave Aranda said Monday, "and I'd like to be at the forefront of that."

Aranda, the former LSU defensive coordinator who is fresh off a national championship, was officially introduced Monday. And even though they will have at least nine new starters on defense next season, he's confident that the Bears' new standard will remain strong.

"I look at the student-athletes that have played, and the playing time that they had last year, and the experience that is coming back, I think it's something to build upon," Aranda said. "I think there's good recruiting classes that are in the wings that are ready to make their mark. I think defense will be a strength this year."

Citing the Bears -- 11-3 last year and tops in the Big 12 in sacks, takeaways and yards per play -- as well as a pair of their league mates, Aranda, 43, sees a moderate shift from the league's lighting-up-the-scoreboard days.

"The offense, I think some of that is changing," he said. "I believe that to be true. But I think there is [progress] in the advent of defenses here, whether it was Baylor, or, I thought Kansas State did a lot of good things on defense, and I feel Iowa State has done good things on defense."

Aranda, who has been an FBS defensive coordinator since 2010, with stops at LSU, Wisconsin, Utah State and Hawai'i, was among at least eight candidates whom Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades spoke with in the search process to replace Matt Rhule, the new coach of the Carolina Panthers.

A source told ESPN.com that Aranda is receiving a six-year contract, though salary figures are undisclosed.

In his last six seasons as coordinator, Aranda's defenses ranked in the top 12 nationally in total defense five times. But Aranda said he will not call the defense, instead focusing his efforts on staff and recruiting.

"I'm not planning on calling defensive signals," Aranda said. "I want to be there to coach the coaches, I want to be there to recruit."

While staff hires are weighed, Aranda will hit the road recruiting Tuesday. One coach whom Aranda will make a sincere effort to retain is Joey McGuire, Rhule's associate head coach and defensive ends coach, who was also a candidate for the top job.

McGuire received significant support from players on social media, including starting quarterback Charlie Brewer.

"We're doing everything we can to keep Joey here," Aranda said. "I have a lot of respect for Joey. I think our talks have been very transparent and direct and I've told him I want him here. I think along with Mack Rhoades, I think we're putting together something that will illustrate that to him and I hope that works out."