The latest name to show up on Mark Richt’s radar in his search for Georgia’s next defensive coordinator is LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis.
In talking to several people close to the situation, Richt has serious interest in Chavis and is prepared to throw some serious money at the veteran defensive coordinator, who headed up Tennessee's defense for 14 seasons prior to joining Les Miles’ staff at LSU for this past season.
Chavis makes a lot of sense. He’s a proven commodity and knows the SEC well. The Tigers were 12th nationally this season in scoring defense, allowing 16 points per game. They gave up just 18 touchdowns in 12 games. Only five teams nationally yielded fewer touchdowns this season.
Chavis has also had considerable success against Georgia over the years, particularly in Athens. Since his promotion to defensive coordinator at Tennessee in 1995, he's 7-3 against the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. That includes LSU's 20-13 win over Georgia this season.
LSU wasn't the only school that came after Chavis last year. Clemson also offered him its defensive coordinator's position.
Whether Chavis would leave for Georgia after just one season at LSU remains to be seen. He’s an extremely loyal guy and turned down numerous opportunities to go to the NFL when he was at Tennessee.
However, he still has family in Knoxville, and Athens, Ga., would be a lot closer.
LSU coach Les Miles has acknowledged that he’s aware that Georgia may have an interest in Chavis, whose salary was $450,000 this season.
The word out of Georgia, though, is that the Bulldogs may go to $600,000-plus annually and offer a three-year contract.
There was a Baton Rouge television report (WBRZ Channel 2) on Monday that quoted LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard as saying that Chavis pulled him aside at practice and told him he wasn’t going anywhere.
Either way, this one will be worth watching over the next few days. LSU faces Penn State on Friday in the Capital One Bowl, so nothing would get done until after that. Chavis may shed some light on the matter later Wednesday when he's scheduled to meet with the media in Orlando as part of the coordinators' news conference.
Richt has already made pitches to Alabama’s Kirby Smart and Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster and also had discussions with Vic Koenning, who recently was hired as Illinois’ defensive coordinator.
Two NFL assistants to keep an eye on are Todd Grantham of the Dallas Cowboys and Bob Sanders of the Buffalo Bills.