HOOVER, Ala. – For the last three seasons, John Chavis’ defenses at LSU shut down Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M’s high-flying offense.
Is that why he hired Chavis away?
“That’s exactly what I did,” Sumlin said Tuesday at Southeastern Conference media days.
Sumlin’s time on the dais in the main ballroom at media days centered on his new defensive coordinator, Chavis, who left the Tigers for the Aggies after last season in a stunning and drama-filled move that’s sparked a litigation saga.
The Chavis-led LSU defense held the Aggies to fewer than 20 points in each of the last three meetings – all Tigers’ wins. Sumlin took notice and, even, admitted that he studied Chavis’ scheme after those losses, almost baffled at the defense.
“His style … we’ve studied that so much over the last three years. I told him, ‘I know this like the back of my hand,'” Sumlin said. “He was ready for a new challenge, and we were in the market.”
The dueling lawsuits between LSU and Chavis haven’t been a distraction “to me at all,” Sumlin said, and the coach denied that he called Chavis a few minutes before LSU’s game against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl – something he said he did during a radio on interview in January.
“That’s not true,” Sumlin said when asked.
Sumlin said Chavis and his family’s transition to College Station, Texas, has been “great,” and the coach has already infused confidence into a Texas A&M defense that finished 104th nationally last year.
“John coming to us has really helped our intensity level as a defense and confidence level as a defense,” Sumlin said. “Playing faster and harder.”
Has the rivalry between Texas A&M and LSU grown with Chavis’ hire? Sumlin said he’s not sure it can get any “spicier” than it already is.
“When I walk in the stadium, they don’t seem pretty happy about me,” the coach said. “We’re recruiting Louisiana. They’re recruiting Texas.”