Arkansas coach Chad Morris says he wants best defensive coordinator in football, but is that the case?

  • Eric Bolin
  • SEC Country
Jan 03, 2018

SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at ericwbolin@gmail.com.

Question of the Day: Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Short answer: No.

There’s a lot of gnashing of teeth among some in the Arkansas fan base regarding John Chavis. He has been rumored to be the next Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator for weeks now. Almost a month. New coach Chad Morris said publicly, upon his introduction to Arkansas no less, that he would “hire the best defensive coordinator in all of college football. That’s our standard.”

OK, then. Sounds a bit like the line coaches give when they say “National championship. That’s our goal.” How realistic is it, really?

Chavis is, in some circles, known as the best defensive coordinator in college football. At worst, he is traditionally thought of as in the top 5. He’s been in the SEC for almost 30 years and has had five top-15 defenses in the country ― five in the last eight seasons alone.

Those three years he has not, however, are the last three years he has coached.

How John Chavis defenses have fared in FBS rankings:

 Year  Yards per game   Points per game
 2017  388.7 (63rd)  28.7 (81st)
 2016  441.8 (90th)  24.5 (39th)
 2015  380 (51st)  22.0 (28th)
 2014  316.8 (9th)  17.5 (T-4th)
 2013  340.7 (15th)  22.0 (21st)
 2012  307.6 (8th)  17.5 (12th)
 2011  261.5 (2nd)  11.3 (2nd)
 2010  307.2 (12th)  18.2 (11th)
 2009  327.6 (26th)  16.2 (11th)

Some might argue Chavis has lost the proverbial it. It is bandied about, usually in whispered tones in real life or typed with animosity online, that Chavis is not a good defensive coordinator anymore. While it’s true his numbers at Texas A&M were not up to par with his numbers at LSU, Chavis is hardly a bad defensive coordinator.

His track record should give him some leeway. If going by the depth and quality, combined, of a résumé, only a handful of coaches in the country can match what Chavis has done.

Bud Foster at Virginia Tech.

Dave Aranda at LSU.

Brent Venables at Clemson.

That’s pretty much it.

The list grows when considering only the last three years, of course. And that’s the rub. Reasonable-minded people can quibble over semantics if they choose.

John Chavis is not the best defensive coordinator in college football. Nor is John Chavis a bad defensive coordinator. Landing somewhere between those is what Arkansas will get, most likely.

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