LSU coach Les Miles’ last-ditch effort failed.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis told Miles that he’s leaving for Texas A&M, a source told The Advocate.
Multiple national outlets have confirmed, through anonymous sources, that Chavis will be the next defensive coordinator for the Aggies.
Chavis, who just completed his sixth season at LSU, did not join the team for its return flight from Nashville to Baton Rouge on Wednesday afternoon, according to a source. Miles and Chavis met at the team hotel Tuesday night in a “long” and “productive” meeting, one source said.
Miles said after Tuesday’s loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl that he would make a last pitch for Chavis to stay, but it seemed hopeless. The coach even referred to the guy known as “Chief” in the past tense.
“John Chavis was very productive for us,” Miles said, before adding later, “I’m going to go try to pitch him again. We like Chief.”
The Aggies were offering Chavis a three-year contract and a raise of about $350,000 to $1.67 million a year, according to FootballScoop.com. LSU has offered the coach a new three-year, $4 million contract paying him $1.33 million a year, a $30,000 raise from his current deal with the school.
Chavis, under contract through next December, never planned to sign the contract because of a clause that would pay him just six months of compensation if Miles is no longer the head coach at LSU, a source said.
Chavis was “upset” over the clause, one source said. LSU would not budge on the contract details, sources said, and Miles’ last-ditch effort came too late.
Chavis’ original three-year contract ended Wednesday; he received a one-year extension through December 2015. His buyout for the final year of the original contract, $400,000, is believed to drop to $0 on Thursday.
The Tigers finished the season 8-5 after a 31-28 loss in the Music City Bowl on Tuesday to Notre Dame (8-5), a game overshadowed by Chavis’ future.
The Advocate reported last week that A&M had reached out to Chavis to replace fired defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, and that the coach had not signed a contract offered to him by the Tigers.
Talks between A&M and Chavis escalated earlier this week.
Minutes after the Tigers lost to the Irish on Tuesday at LP Field, Chavis declined to answer questions about A&M, while Miles spoke emotionally about Chavis and spoke as if Chief had already fled to Texas A&M — a move that makes a budding rivalry even more juicy.
Texas A&M is developing into LSU’s new rival. The Tigers and Aggies played on Thanksgiving night this year, a 23-17 LSU win, and are scheduled to play in the last game of the regular season in future years.
The schools are about a five-hour drive from each other and compete routinely for recruits.
Asked Tuesday how losing Chavis to A&M would look, Miles said, “I don’t know how it looks to be honest with you and nor do I give a damn. I’ll tell you at LSU, we’ll have a great defense. We’ll have a great defensive coordinator.”
LSU has not honed in on any candidates, but a host of big names are possible: current Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, Louisville and former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, former Ole Miss coach and long-time Southern Cal coach Ed Orgeron, Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele, former Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and even former Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who is available.
LSU isn’t afraid to dole out dollars. The Tigers were paying Chavis $1.3 million a year, the third-most of any assistant in college football. Some thought the school should have done more.
LSU players took to Twitter after the game about the Chavis situation, specifically defensive back Dwayne Thomas.
“He coached the number #1 defense in SEC he deserve to be paid and we should match any and everything they put up,” Thomas tweeted, but later deleted the message.
On Wednesday, LSU freshman defensive back Jamal Adams tweeted, “Coaches come & go.... Can’t trust them!”
Chavis’ legacy in Baton Rouge will be one of success despite the ugly finale: The Tigers gave up 449 yards to Notre Dame and allowed a 71-yard, game-winning field-goal drive.
LSU’s defense has finished in the top 15 nationally each of the previous four seasons and completed the regular season first in the Southeastern Conference in total yards allowed.
“Chief is a great football coach, great game planner, does a great job of calling the game on Saturday,” said Bradley Dale Peveto, LSU special teams coordinator and defensive assistant. “He’s even a greater person. He’s as good with kids, with players as I’ve ever been around. He’s got a lot of magic. I’ve just been honored to be with him. I’ve learned so much. He’s really special.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.