Refresh the LSU defensive coordinator search

After a busy week of reports and rumblings regarding the open defensive coordinator position at LSU, TSD takes a refreshed look at the coaches in the running to replace John Chavis

The LSU defensive coordinator search enters a new week without a clear leader emerging, though several intriguing names remain in the mix.

Les Miles would ideally like to have the hire made by the weekend, in time to have the new coordinator in place for the end of the dead period. The Tigers are set to host a major weekend of official visits starting Jan. 16, so LSU would definitely want to have a new coordinator situated in Baton Rouge in time to start recruiting.

We saw some new names pop up over the weekend while others fell off the list.

The most notable candidate that’s now apparently out of the running is former USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Though he was once considered the leader in the clubhouse, he took his name out of the running according to multiple reports. LSU just did not think the match would work out, so maybe Pendergast has his eyes on returning to the NFL, where he’s spent the majority of his career, instead of coming back to college.

So with Pendergast out of the running, the race is apparently wide open without anyone having a firm grasp on who it’s going to be. There are three coaches that appear to be the new lead group though.

One is already on the staff. Brick Haley could potentially receive a promotion and replace John Chavis. Haley did spend three seasons at Baylor (1999-2001) as a defensive coordinator, and he would also move to coach the linebackers, which he did at Georgia Tech from 2002-03. If this move happened, that would likely open a position for Ed Orgeron to become the new defensive line coach. At this point, Orgeron is not a legitimate candidate for the DC spot, but it does sound like he’d be interested in joining the staff should another opportunity come available.

Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has also become a candidate high on the wish list for fans. Only 48-years-old, Shoop’s considered a real up-and-comer on the coaching market. He fielded defenses in the Top 25 of the country during his three years at Vanderbilt. He followed James Franklin to Penn State, where he led the Nittany Lions to the second best defense in the country in 2014. He’s shown what he can do without superior talent, though he doesn’t have as much experience at the highest level. He’s one of the bright stars out there and is gaining steam as a potential LSU candidate.

Kevin Steele has been mentioned for the LSU position throughout the search, and he remains one of the top candidates. Communication should pick up with him now that Alabama’s been eliminated from the College Football Playoff. His last stint as a defensive coordinator (Clemson – 2009-12) ended on a low note as he was fired. He’s rejuvenated his career though while with the Crimson Tide and remains one of the top names on the board at the moment.

Another coach fans continue to ask about is D.J. Durkin. The interim head coach at Florida, Durkin just wrapped up the season by leading the Gators to a bowl win. That should free him to start entertaining options elsewhere, and on paper, he’d seem a great fit for the Tigers. There hasn’t been much to believe he’s in the running though, as all indications are that he’ll join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. If for some reason that falls through, then maybe LSU gets in the mix, but at this point, it’s unlikely much materializes with Durkin.

A TV reporter out of Oklahoma City connected Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to the LSU job over the weekend. The report stated that Stoops would interview with Miles Saturday night and went so far as to say he’d be offered the job. Though there’s nothing to refute that Stoops is a candidate, it’s unlikely that he’s a legitimate contender and the reports of him being offered were far from true. He appears much lower on the totem pole compared to these other coaches, so the fans groaning by the mention of his name can rest a bit easier as nothing appears imminent with Stoops at the moment.

Some other names that have been brought up over the last week have fallen out of the mix. Clemson’s Brent Venables and Georgia’s Jeremy Pruitt have reportedly signed extensions with their respective schools. Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik accepted the DC job at North Carolina.

Coach Miles is reportedly set to meet with his staff Monday to discuss the defensive coordinator search. Expect things to pick up quicker from here as the Tigers hope to have the new man in place by the end of the week.

Premium members can track all the latest reports and rumblings by heading to the TSD Message Board at the link below to stay updated on who will be the next LSU defensive coordinator.

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