LSU holds onto Chavis

Mark Richt made a good run, but John Chavis has decided to stay put at LSU.

LSU officials confirmed Thursday that Chavis’ deal at LSU will be sweetened after hammering out a new agreement with Chavis on Wednesday night.

Georgia had offered Chavis a three-year deal worth at least $600,000 annually to be the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Thursday that the Tigers did what they needed to to keep Chavis, who earned $450,000 in salary this season -- his first at LSU.

Keeping Chavis is a coup for the Tigers, whose defense improved substantially on his watch this season. They’re ranked 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 16 points per game. But more importantly, they regained their edge under Chavis, a no-frills guy who’s done it at a high level now in the SEC for the better part of the last two decades.

LSU coach Les Miles confirmed that he talked to Richt this week concerning Chavis, who was the defensive coordinator at Tennessee for 14 seasons before taking on that same position at LSU after Phillip Fulmer and his staff were fired following the 2008 season.

For the Tigers, over and above keeping a quality coach like Chavis, the last thing they wanted to be doing heading into the teeth of the recruiting period was searching for their fourth defensive coordinator since the end of the 2007 season.

After Bo Pelini left to take the Nebraska head job, Miles made Bradley Dale Peveto and Doug Mallory co-defensive coordinators. But they lasted just one season, and Miles brought in Chavis this past January.

With Chavis off the board, that means Richt is back in search mode. He acknowledged Thursday that it could now be the latter part of January before he has a new defensive coordinator in place.

Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham, who was previously the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, remains very much in the picture. But with the Cowboys in the playoffs, Grantham wouldn't be available until the middle of January at the earliest.

Chavis is at least the fourth different coach that Richt has either offered the job to or had conversations with about the job. The other three were Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who just joined the Illini after bolting from Kansas State.