For The Shreveport Times
Chief reasons for departure
By: Tim Fletcher
It seemed strange, those reports and rumors that wafted our way from Baton Rouge a few weeks ago. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis was being courted by Auburn and Texas A&M to handle the same duties on The Plains or in Aggieland.
Tiger fans were curious, but not worried.
“Why would he leave future NFL studs and a comfortable situation for either of those?”
“Chief (Chavis’ nickname, owing to his Native American heritage) loves Les and LSU. He is not going to start over from scratch… especially in the same division of the SEC!”
When Auburn unloaded a truck full of money at deposed Florida coach Will Muschamp’s front door, one rumor stream was dammed up.
Reports of an unsigned contract extension lying on Chavis’ desk in Baton Rouge persisted, even though other assistant coaches on Les Miles staff signed their deals.
The imagination soared with the possibilities:
*Did Les sneak into Chief’s office each morning and place the contract extension on top of the stack of papers on his defensive coordinator’s desk?
*Did Les have his assistant ‘buzz’ the Chief on an hourly basis to remind him of ‘Some important paperwork he needs to sign”?
*Was there a homemade sign in the men’s room near the coaches offices: “Employees must wash hands before returning to work, where its pertinent you must sign any contract extension”?
*When Chavis walked out to his vehicle after the workday was over, was the contract extension held in place on the windshield by a wiper, like a Tent Revival invitation?
As the Tigers prepared for Notre Dame, the contract extension remained lonely, unsigned, presumably gathering dust. The team departed for Nashville and the Music City Bowl. The contract, like Kevin from “Home Alone,” a forgotten puzzle piece left behind to fend for itself.
Game Day arrived. December 30th… Chavis and his charges would take down Notre Dame and he would sign the contract extension during a victorious celebration in the Tigers locker room!
First things first. Destroy the Fighting Irish! “Let’s goooooo!!!” We all, in spirit, run onto the field with the Chief… wait.
Chief spends the game in the coaches box, not on the sideline. We tone it down and wait patiently for the elevator to escort us, spiritually, to the coaches quarters high in the sky. This is where we will witness Chief’s intelligently designed defense throttling a quarterback making the first start of his career.
(Fast forward three-and-a-half-hours later).
Whew! That escalated quickly.
How in the world did Notre Dame rack up 450 yards of offense with a redshirt freshman quarterback? 11 for 17 on third downs? Was Chief’s plan to “tackle poorly” and “leave receivers more open than Texas A&M’s checkbook”?
During the game, reports from Baton Rouge indicated Chavis-to-Texas A&M was a done deal. The questions after the 31-28 loss to Notre Dame steered toward Chavis’ employment status, not the results of the just-completed Music City Bowl. Chavis insisted he only wanted to talk about the game.
Why? If I’m standing in his school-paid-for-Nikes, I am willing to talk politics, religion, in-laws… anything but that train-wreck of a defensive effort.
Eventually, Chavis grew a tad testy when the Aggie inquiries continued, “I’ve said three or four times, I wasn’t going to talk about that. I’m going to be nice…but at some point, I can be an ugly ass and I don’t want to be that tonight, so I’m not going to be that. Thank you.”
A) What a great line to use in a debate for future Presidential, Gubernatorial, Mayoral candidates.
B) Chief. You’re leaving behind a treasure-trove of talent at LSU, working for a man who sure seems like a good guy to have as a boss. You have little competition to refill the talent pool, outside of Alabama’s regular raid of northeast Louisiana and the occasional I-10 corridor export outside the state. You were making $1,300,000 per year to coach football---and that’s it. No banquets; no media obligations; just coach.
C) Answer the darn questions.
On Wednesday, Chavis touched down in Texas, stepping off a private jet wearing nifty cowboy boots, joined by A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. The only thing missing from this cliché’ was Chavis carrying “Reveille” under one arm while whistling the Aggie War Hymn.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Chavis said, “I’m excited to play with a great offense, and certainly looking forward to helping the defense get better.”
Now he answers questions! A “great offense” and a $200,000 salary bump in 2015 is all that it took to pry him away. That increase could turn into a $200,000 deficit if LSU gets its way by making Chavis pay a $400,000 buyout.
LSU will hire a solid defensive coordinator to replace Chavis, whose defense was often highly rated and feared. We will soon see if it was his “X’s and O’s” or the Jimmies and Joes that deserve the bulk of the credit.
Hopefully Tiger fans wish Chavis well in his new venture. However, more than anything they would prefer LSU extend the recent dominance over the Aggies, this time at Chavis’ peril.
A little advice for you Chief… you may want to cure your talented defensive end from crashing inside on every read-option. Also, the grass isn’t always greener on the other sideline---and it sure doesn’t taste as good.