- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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John Chavis, whose attacking defenses were the backbone of some of Tennessee's best teams under Phillip Fulmer, is trading Rocky Top for the Bayou.
Multiple sources have told ESPN.com that Chavis has agreed in principle to become the new defensive coordinator at LSU and that the deal is expected to be finalized later this week.
Sources told ESPN.com that Chavis' deal is for multiple years and will pay him more than $500,000 annually. Chavis earned $340,000 last year at Tennessee.
LSU faces Georgia Tech on Wednesday in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Tigers (7-5) struggled defensively this season and head into the bowl game ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. They gave up 30 or more points in each of their last three games.
LSU coach Les Miles has maintained that there wouldn't be any changes to his defensive staff until after the bowl game, but he has openings. One of the Tigers' co-defensive coordinators, Bradley Dale Peveto, has already been named the head coach at Northwestern State, while the other co-defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, is reportedly leaving to become the defensive coordinator at New Mexico.
Chavis, 52, spent the last 14 seasons as Tennessee's defensive coordinator. The Vols, despite their struggles on offense this season, ranked fourth nationally in total defense.
In nine of Chavis' 14 seasons as the Vols' defensive coordinator, Tennessee ranked among the top three in the SEC in total defense. Miles got an up-close view of Chavis' work during the 2007 SEC championship game, when Tennessee held the eventual national champion Tigers to just one offensive touchdown.
Chavis, a Tennessee graduate, remained extremely loyal to Fulmer and turned down several opportunities to leave Tennessee, including NFL jobs with the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. He also was wooed by former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz earlier this decade.
But with new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin bringing his father, Monte Kiffin, along to coordinate the Vols' defense, Chavis was not retained and he immediately became a hot commodity on the open market.
New Clemson coach Dabo Swinney also offered Chavis the Tigers' defensive coordinator position, but LSU came through with a more lucrative offer.
There is a chance Chavis will bring either Dan Brooks or Steve Caldwell with him to LSU. Brooks coached defensive tackles at Tennessee and Caldwell defensive ends.
College football blogger Chris Low covers the SEC. Information from ESPN.com college football writers Mark Schlabach and Ivan Maisel was included.
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