LSU officials have been in contact with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker during the school’s search for a replacement for John Chavis, multiple sources told The Advocate on Monday.
It’s unclear how serious of candidates Smart and Tucker are, but each — at least through intermediaries — has spoken with representatives from LSU about the defensive coordinator opening.
Tucker, a one-time LSU assistant who has spent much of his career in the pros, is not expected to be retained by the Bears after head coach Marc Trestman was fired.
Smart, 39, just completed his seventh season as Alabama’s defensive coordinator. He has spent much of his career in college football, with stops at Valdosta State, LSU (2004), Georgia and Florida State.
Smart’s interest in the LSU job remains unclear. His current position is similar to LSU’s opening — a highly paid defensive coordinator job at a Southeastern Conference Western Division power.
That was one spot ahead of Chavis, who made $1.3 million.
Smart, Tucker and Hoke are the newest crop of names to emerge from a coaching search on its 13th day. Coach Les Miles has kept the search for Chavis’ replacement tight-lipped.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, one of few who officially interviewed with Miles, pulled his name out of the running last week after receiving a new three-year contract. Shoop was not offered the job, but he was not ruled out, sources said.
The Advocate reported Sunday night that LSU has been flooded with interest for the position from top-flight college coordinators and former and current NFL coordinators. Monday marks the 13th day the Tigers will be without a defensive coordinator after Chavis bolted for the same job at Texas A&M a day after LSU lost the Music City Bowl to Notre Dame.
The recruiting dead period ends Wednesday, a day first thought to be a deadline of sorts for Miles to hire a coordinator. It doesn’t necessarily appear that way any longer.
ESPN Radio in Baton Rouge and 247Sports reported that Miles was in Chicago on Sunday, possibly interviewing candidates — including Tucker and Hoke.
Tucker has been with the Bears for two seasons. He has been defensive coordinator in Jacksonville and Cleveland. He coached defensive backs at LSU in 2000, Nick Saban’s first season at the helm, before leaving for Ohio State. Tucker, 43, has spent just four years as a college assistant.
Smart is the flashiest name of the bunch. The former Georgia defensive back has led the Alabama defense since 2008, Saban’s second season with the Tide. He won the Frank Broyles Award in 2009, an annual honor given to college football’s top assistant coach.
Six of Smart’s seven defenses at Alabama have finished in the top five nationally. The 2014 defense finished 12th.
Smart, Tucker and Hoke join the group of coaches who have spoken with the school concerning the job, including Shoop, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and former Southern California and Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.
LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley also has “not been ruled out” as a possible replacement for Chavis, a source said.