Chavis was capable, but it was time for him to go
It was time to move on. John Chavis knew it, and so did LSU. The dye was cast in yet another heartbreaking November home loss to Alabama.
In 43 seconds, the Tide drove from its 35-yard line to the LSU 10 with no timeouts to kick the game-tying field goal. Alabama scored a touchdown in overtime to win 20-13.
As good as Chavis’ defenses were statistically, they had trouble getting stops late in key games.
In 2012 in Baton Rouge, Alabama drove 72 yards in five plays and 49 seconds to score the game-winner. It came on a 28-yard screen pass from A.J. McCarron to T.J. Yeldon.
In a 2013 game at Georgia, LSU led 41-37 with 4:14 to play. The Bulldogs drove 75 yards in six plays to score the game-winning touchdown. Only once on the drive did Georgia face a second down.
The biggest defensive meltdown occurred in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Clemson converted on fourth-and-16 at its own 14-yard line. That led to a game-winning field goal by Chandler Catanzaro. Clemson won 25-24.
So, after a series of late-game failures, it was time for Chavis, a very good coach, to move on. One source said he felt Chavis had a contract agreement with Texas A&M before Christmas.
After a 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, I asked coach Les Miles if it looked bad that Chavis was going to an SEC West rival.
“I don’t give a damn,” said Miles. “I can only tell you at LSU we will have a great defense and a great defensive coach.”
If LSU wanted to retain Chavis, why wouldn’t they cough up the extra $300,000 or so to match any offer Texas A&M could muster?
The answer was simple. LSU didn’t think Chavis was worth the extra cash. For Chavis, the move to College Station, Texas, will be an interesting one.
He will coach for a school that doesn’t play a complementary offensive game. While LSU runs the football and eats the clock, the Aggies spread it out and play fast-break football. Chavis’ defenses will be on the field a lot.
In 2014, LSU was ninth in the country in time of possession at 33 minutes-plus per game. Texas A&M was 122nd, at about 26 minutes a game.
So, Chavis will be making more money, and he will be defending more possessions.
In the Music City Bowl, Notre Dame was 11 of 17 on third down. It was a telling statistic.
But, by the time the Tigers took the field in Nashville, Chavis knew he was gone.
How else to explain his post-game comments when he said he would talk about the “game and the game only.”
If Chavis were a country crooner, he could adopt the lyrics of Jo Dee Messina in “Heads Carolina, tails California.”
“Go somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.”