PHOENIX — Former LSU All-American Marcus Spears likes Les Miles’ bold hire of Dave Aranda as the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator, but he says LSU’s long-time coach has to be just as bold in modernizing the offense.

“I don’t think he’ll last the year if he doesn’t change,” said Spears, who is here covering the CFP National Championship Game between Alabama and Clemson for the SEC Network. “I don’t see the administration and fan base with all what went on at the end of the year not letting that carry over to when the season starts.”

Miles and athletic director Joe Alleva said LSU is working to renew the contract for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to bring him back for a fourth season. Miles also said LSU coaches will visit other programs to glean information on how they run the spread offense.

Sankey on Sugar

With talk swirling about how the College Football Playoff can improve this year’s dismal TV ratings for the national semifinals, a number of suggestions have emerged.

One is to sandwich the semifinals around the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in years when the semis aren’t in the Rose and Sugar bowls, thus potentially moving the Sugar out of its traditional Jan. 1 prime-time slot.

However, Saturday, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said his league and the Big 12, which have agreed to send their champions or highest-ranked teams to the Sugar, remain committed to keeping the bowl on New Year’s night.

“There’s not only a commitment,” Sankey said at CFP media day. “We have a contract.”

With the Sugar having hosted a CFP semifinal last year, this was the first time the game hosted the so-called “Champions Bowl” between the SEC and Big 12. Ole Miss romped past Oklahoma State 48-20.

“The victory is always nice,” Sankey said. “But standing on the floor of the Superdome, which was full, with a lot of energy, it was a great reward for both teams and a great evening for both teams.”

Shaq the sequel

Because basketball, not football, was the dominant sport in his family, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson said his mother decided to name him after LSU great Shaquille O’Neal.

“I came out tall,” Lawson said. “They thought I’d be a basketball player. But I came to realize I wouldn’t be big enough to play basketball so I switched to football.”

Good choice. The junior All-American has already declared for the NFL draft, where he’s projected as a top-10 pick.

There’s no question Lawson can play, but the question is, will he play? He sprained his left MCL on the second play of the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma and has been questionable for Monday’s CFP National Championship Game against Alabama ever since.

Saturday, he rated his likelihood of playing against Alabama at 60 percent.

“I get treatment every day,” said Lawson, who said he did a some contact work before the team traveled here Friday. He said if he does play Monday he will wear a knee brace.

Crimson Tide Chip?

Alabama coach Nick Saban cooled reports about recently fired Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly paying a visit to the Crimson Tide’s coaches last week.

“Chip Kelly is a good friend of myself and a lot of coaches on our staff,” Saban said. “He just happened to be in the area, and he stopped by and visited with us for a little bit, and not really anything of significance relative to this game.”

Kelly, who went 46-7 in four years at Oregon before spending nearly three seasons in Philadelphia, has said he will seek another NFL coaching opportunity. He reportedly met Thursday with the San Francisco 49ers about their vacancy.

Swinney’s brother arrested

The brother of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was arrested Wednesday on charges of harassing and cyberstalking his ex-wife in Panama City, Florida. Henry “Tripp” Swinney III, 47, was taken into custody by Bay County sheriff’s deputies and held on $15,000 bond. His wife had filed a restraining order in October.

“Unfortunately he’s had a history of not doing the right things,” Dabo Swinney said. “Choices. Life is about decisions and choices.”

It was Tripp Swinney who as a toddler gave his younger brother William the nickname “Dabo” as he was trying to call him “That boy.”