Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Old-school Chavis dug in at LSU
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
BATON ROUGE, La. -- One of the best acquisitions LSU coach Les Miles made this past offseason was holding onto defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Georgia coach Mark Richt made a serious run at Chavis, and the Bulldogs were prepared to pay him a lot of money to be their defensive coordinator after only one season with the Tigers.
Under John Chavis, LSU finished 11th nationally in scoring defense last season.
Now, the first thing to know about Chavis -- aka “Chief” to those who know him best -- is that he enjoys talking about himself the way most taxpayers look forward to a visit from the IRS.
The second thing to know about him is that he has a stubborn streak that’s legendary.
And thirdly, he’s as loyal as the day is long.
The Georgia job was tempting. Both of his sons still live in Knoxville, Tenn., and it would have been a chance to get back closer to them.
But in the end, Chavis simply isn’t one to leave what he started.
“Les has been great to work for,” Chavis said. “He’s a good man, and this place has everything you’re looking for. There was no reason to leave. They brought me here to do a job, and I plan on finishing that job. It’s as simple as that.”
Chavis, who was the defensive coordinator for 14 years at Tennessee before landing at LSU, is the essence of old school. In this era of coaches hopping around from one job to the next, he’s that guy who still believes you owe something to that coach or university that hired you in the first place.
Over and over again at Tennessee, he turned down overtures to go to the NFL. He did the same when then-South Carolina coach Lou Holtz tried to lure him back to his home state. Chavis grew up in Dillon, S.C.
“It’s never been about me,” Chavis said. “It’s about the players, and I’ve been blessed to have so many good ones. That’s what this business is about.”
Speaking of business, Chavis made out pretty well on that side, too. Miles was determined not to lose Chavis, and the LSU brass immediately stepped up to the plate.
The Tigers regained their defensive edge last season under Chavis and finished 11th nationally in scoring defense.
Chavis, who was scheduled to make $475,000 this coming season, signed a new three-year deal that will pay him an average of $700,000 annually. He’s one of six defensive coordinators in the SEC now making $500,000 or more per year.
Miles said he’s worth every penny of it.
“Don’t underestimate the significance of the second year in his system, and we’re going to be able to put the kind of speed on the field we haven’t had,” Miles said.
Senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said the players love playing for Chavis so much because of how genuine he is with them, both on and off the field.
“He’s just like a father figure,” Sheppard said. “You never have to guess where you stand with him, because he’s going to let you know. That’s what makes him such a good coach.”