With national media now saying Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis will be joining Chad Morris’ staff at Arkansas, everyone is wondering, well, when?
Considering the Aggies meet Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl at noon Friday, he should be free by dark Arkansas time.
When should we expect an announcement? No idea, but you have to think it will be soon after that.
Could Morris trot to midcourt with Chavis in tow during the basketball game with Tennessee on Saturday?
That might be pushing it, but, hey, the Razorback Foundation plane has had a couple of weeks to get cleaned up after the whirlwind of activity from Thanksgiving to the first couple of weeks in December.
By now if Chavis is not the choice everybody is going to be stunned.
But it has given a chance for some in-depth research into Chavis’ numbers.
He’s been a defensive coordinator for 23 years at Tennessee (1995-2008), LSU (2009-14) and Texas A&M since 2015.
Here’s some interesting defensive ranking numbers:
• Three Top 5 defenses (one at Tennessee, two at LSU)
• Seven Top 10 defenses (four with the Vols, three at LSU)
• A total of 15 of his defenses ranked in the Top 25
As many of the Great Unwashed in Razorback Nation point to the fact that none of those were at Texas A&M, consider the circumstances, as one longtime coach told me Thursday.
While Chavis certainly had some great individual performers with the Aggies, the recruiting during his first two years there was focused primarily on the offensive side of the ball.
In 2016, Chavis’ second year at A&M, the Aggies signed just six on the defensive side of the ball. They signed 15 on offense.
Under Kevin Sumlin, A&M’s focus was primarily on the offensive side of the ball. He did sign nine quarterbacks during his six years, including six while Chavis was in College Station.
But even at Texas A&M, his defenses were considerably better than what Arkansas had the last three years, averaging eighth in the SEC. The Hogs’ average finish was at No. 11.
There could be massive improvement in the first year, but expecting something similar to what Larry Grantham did in one year at Mississippi State might be a little much.
He inherited a defense that finished tied for 108th in the nation (tied for 12th in the league) and shot up to No. 9 in the nation this past season.
Can Chavis accomplish that? Probably not, but it is possible.
Remember, Morris is not using the Nick Saban blueprint to redo Razorback football. The guess here is he’s going to use the Clemson approach under Dabo Swinney, who didn’t hire Brent Venables until after his third season.
That was right after the Tigers had given up 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. That defense was No. 100 in the nation.
Remember that number because we’ll finish with it.
Venables took the Tigers to No. 74 in his first season, then 29th and led the nation in defense in 2014, his third at Clemson.
Chavis could see a jump like that in his first season. After all, the Hogs finished 74th in Robb Smith’s last season which was, basically two second-half meltdowns away from being a nine-win team.
Now back to that number we said we’d finish with. Morris has said on more than one occasion he thinks Arkansas is where Clemson was when he went there in 2011. He was the offensive coordinator when the Tigers’ defense finished, well, No. 100 in the nation.
Just like the Hogs.
He’s reportedly going to bring in Chavis, who many considered the best defensive coordinator in college football just a couple of years ago.
Now we see if he can get to that level again.