LSU’s search for a defensive coordinator might not end by the weekend after all.
The search enters Day 10 on Friday with the Tigers, seemingly, no closer to finding a replacement for John Chavis than they were a week and a half ago.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop yanked his name out of contention Wednesday night, hours after interviewing for the position with head coach Les Miles.
Shoop joins a growing list of coaches linked to the job who are out of the mix. Very few candidates have officially interviewed with Miles, and not many new names are floating about.
An old name is still under consideration, sources say. The Advocate reported Sunday night that defensive line coach Brick Haley has “not been ruled out” as a replacement for Chavis, who bolted for Texas A&M a day after the Music City Bowl last week.
It’s unclear how serious his candidacy is, and where, after Shoop’s decision, LSU might turn.
Shoop’s exit from the process could extend the search through the weekend and into next week, a dicey situation with the most crucial recruiting period nearing.
The recruiting dead period ends Jan. 15. What commences is a three-week stretch where coaches make last-ditch efforts to secure commitments from the nation’s high school stars.
LSU will host highly rated prospects for official visits in the three weekends leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 4. That starts next weekend.
“It really can’t drag beyond next weekend,” said Shea Dixon, a recruiting reporter for 247Sports.
“Kids want to know who their coach is going to be,” said Hunter Paniagua, a recruiting reporter for Scout.com. “A big part of every recruit’s visit is spent one-on-one with their coordinator or position coach where they can specifically explain how they’ll fit into the defense. That’s a vital part in most decisions.”
Chavis’ exit has left open the position of linebackers coach. The Tigers currently do not have a linebacker committed for the 2015 class, a concern in an area of need, said Paniagua.
“That person will be the coach they spend the most time with once they get to college,” he said. “An official visit is the best opportunity for that relationship to be built.”
LSU has 16 commitments in the 2015 class, leaving it eight commits shy of the 25-player maximum. Dixon expects the Tigers to sign at least 23 on signing day.
LSU’s staff is honing in on three prospects, Dixon said, each of them Louisiana guys ranked among the state’s top 10: Riverdale athlete Donte Jackson, former Alabama commit and Patterson receiver Daylon Charlot and Franklinton athlete and Florida commit Derrick Dillon.
“If they can flip one of (Charlot or Dillon) and land Donte Jackson, that would be considered the ultimate success,” Dixon said.
They may need a defensive coordinator in position to accomplish that.
Shoop was highly interested in the job to replace Chavis, according to a source close to the coach, and the two sides had flirted for a week. Shoop interviewed with Miles on Wednesday before posting a tweet Wednesday night saying that he’d be remaining at Penn State.
Shoop, 48, was not offered the job during the meeting with Miles, but he was not ruled out, two sources closes to the coach told The Advocate. Shoop was pressured by Penn State coach James Franklin during this week-long dance with the Tigers, multiple sources say.
On local radio in Pennsylvania on Thursday morning, Shoop suggested LSU’s time frame for a hire was involved in his decision to pull out of the search.
“Ultimately when it came to their decision making time, Penn State was the best opportunity for me and my family,” said Shoop, who coached the No. 2-ranked defense in the nation in 2014.
Fox Sports reported on Thursday morning that Shoop was set to receive a three-year contract with a salary “close to $1 million per year,” the report said.
“I was flattered someone had reached out to me,” Shoop said during the radio interview. “I’m very loyal to coach Franklin. Being from Pennsylvania, I have a dream job that 99.99 percent of people in my profession would trade places with me in a heart beat. It really wasn’t much of a decision when it came down to it.”
Shoop was on a short list of candidates who met with Miles about a job that’s seen by many as one of the nation’s bests. A salary for the new coordinator is expected to be similar to that of Chavis, who made $1.3 million a year, the third-highest of any assistant in the nation.
Miles, assistant director of football operations Dean Dingman and Miles’ agent, George Bass, are leading the search, multiple sources said.
Miles, an offensive-minded coach who rarely dabbles in the defense, is “taking time” with the search and knows “the importance” of the hire, sources said.
Haley is still an option.
Haley, 48, has been on LSU’s staff since 2009. He’s been a defensive coordinator once — for three years at Baylor from 1999-2001. He coached linebackers for the Bears and has been a linebackers coach at three other stops during his coaching career.
Haley’s promotion could make room for a popular name: Ed Orgeron. The former Ole Miss coach and longtime Southern California defensive line coach is out of a job and lives in Mandeville.