NASHVILLE – For weeks leading up to the 2014 Music City Bowl, LSU matching up against perennial power Notre Dame wasn't the story of the Tigers' bowl season.
Now that the Irish have sunk the Bayou Bengals 31-28 on a field goal as time expired, leveling both teams' records at 8-5, it still isn't the primary storyline.
That would be a potentially seismic coaching move in the SEC West – defensive coordinator John Chavis relocating to College Station to take the vacant Texas A&M job of the same title.
What once seemed far-fetched two weeks ago, when Chavis was offered an extension by LSU on his current deal that ends in December 2015, seems more of a near certainty with only two days remaining in the calendar year.
That's the new reality that struck players and coaches alike following the crushing Tiger loss inside LP Field. Even if no one claimed to know that as gospel.
"I do not know that," Miles responded when asked about Chavis leaving for a division rival. "I'm told that's the case (through media reports). I'll have to find that out later.
"I can tell you John Chavis was very productive for us. He had a great career at LSU."
Speaking in past tense, or any tense for that matter, is no final indicator from Miles, whose grasp of the English language is unique and plays by no established rules. LSU's tenth-year head coach did go on to say his recruitment of Chavis isn't over.
"We understand he was unsigned and understand why," Miles said of Chavis, whose proposed contract from LSU is reportedly for three years and $4 million. "I'm going to go pitch him again. I like John Chavis."
Chavis, hired by Miles in 2008, has allegedly been offered $1.7 million a year from the Aggies.
According to a postgame tweet from injured defensive back Dwayne Thomas, no sum should be enough to allow Chavis to walk.
"He coached the number #1 defense in the SEC," tweeted Thomas, "he deserve to be paid and we should match any and everything they put up."
Senior defensive end Jermauria Rasco said the defense, which surrendered 449 yards to Notre Dame (263 yards on the ground), hasn't heard a peep from Chavis and that any move would be news to him.
"No. He never mentioned it or nothing," Rasco told reporters. "We heard about that just being on Twitter and hearing that little buzz going around.
"That’s real surprising to me because the way he’s talking, just being around him and obviously he’s got a great relationship with all the guys, I don’t think he’s leaving. At the end of the day he’s got to do what’s best for he and his family."
LSU's defensive Chief himself addressed the media, but Chavis was adamant that he wouldn't talk about anything outside of the game.
The former longtime Tennessee coordinator even got agitated with repeated attempts to sidestep his wishes, saying, "I can be an ugly ass sometimes. I don’t want to be that tonight."
About all Chavis did share was that he saw no reason his defense would be distracted in the bowl game. He also indicated there's no timeline on when he would address the maroon-colored elephant in the room.
On the subject of the Tigers allowing Notre Dame to convert 11-of-17 third downs, Chavis was more forthcoming.
"We didn’t get it done tonight on third down. We didn’t get ourselves off the field, and that hurt us," explained Chavis. "We had those opportunities, but we didn’t get it done. That goes right on my shoulders, nobody else’s."
Even with the writing on the wall, Miles said he's spent no time worried about the perception of Chavis walking to a Western division foe. "I don't know how it looks, to be honest with you, nor do I give a damn."
His level of concern may jump a few notches if defensive line coach Brick Haley, who came in with Chavis in 2008 and has long considered him a mentor, joins Chavis on the move west.
"If Chief leaves, with the relationship they have, I think they’re going together," Rasco speculated. "But at the end of the day Chief’s going to have to do what’s best for his family and Coach Brick will have to do what’s best for his family."
With so much shakeup that could be on the horizon, Miles is hanging his hat on what he feels is a constant in Baton Rouge.
"At LSU, we'll have a great defense," concluded Miles. "We'll have a great defensive coordinator."
Does John Chavis have a foot out the door?
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