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LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis left speculation swirling Wednesday that he was considering the same job at Georgia.
He was asked twice about the issue at a Capital One Bowl news conference in Orlando -– and twice answered without distancing himself from the UGA job.
The first time, he said: “Well, we’re excited about what we’re doing at LSU, and my focus has been on LSU and will continue to be on LSU. We have an opportunity to win 10 ballgames, and certainly that is what we want to do. We’ve got an opportunity to be the third team in the SEC to win 100 ballgames in a decade, and certainly that is what we want to do. So that is where our focus is going to be. I’ll talk as long as you want to about LSU and about our players. Be happy to do that.”
In other words: a protracted no-comment about the Georgia job.
Later in the news conference, asked pointedly if he would still be at LSU next season, Chavis replied: “Like I said earlier, I’ll be happy to talk about our players, about this bowl game. Beyond that, I really want to leave it like it is.”
An LSU athletic department official told Gannett Louisiana Newspapers Wednesday afternoon that LSU was trying to match a Georgia offer to Chavis.
On Tuesday in Orlando, LSU head coach Les Miles acknowledged Georgia’s interest in Chavis, who is completing his first season as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator after 20 years on the Tennessee staff.
“We have not discussed Georgia in any way, [but] certainly there is word out that Georgia has interest,” Miles said Tuesday. “I have not heard from Georgia. I don’t really want to talk about that. . . . It’s a distraction to a game.”
LSU plays Penn State in the Capital One Bowl on Friday.
Georgia coach Mark Richt has been seeking a new defensive coordinator since the Dec. 2 firing of Willie Martinez. UGA associate athletics director Claude Felton said Wednesday that Richt, consistent with his policy throughout the process, would have no comment on any potential candidate.
Chavis made $450,000 plus bonuses at LSU this season. Indications have been that Georgia would be willing to go higher than that and offer a multi-year contract to the right candidate.
Chavis, 53, a South Carolina native, coached at Tennessee from 1989 through 2008, serving as defensive coordinator his final 14 years in Knoxville. The Vols ranked among the SEC’s top four teams in total defense in 10 of Chavis’ 14 years as coordinator.
In Chavis’ first season at LSU, the Tigers’ defense improved dramatically, ranking third in the SEC and 12th nationally in scoring defense (16 points allowed per game).
Another veteran defensive coordinator, Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster, considered the Georgia job earlier this month but declined UGA’s offer after receiving a sweetened deal to stay with the Hokies. Georgia also discussed the job with former Clemson defensive coordinator (and former Kansas State co-defensive coordinator) Vic Koenning, who recently was named DC at Illinois.
Georgia also has two other openings on its defensive staff, but Richt has said the first priority is to hire a coordinator, who then will have considerable input into filling the other positions.