LSU set to make John Chavis newest million-dollar assistant

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

It won't happen in 2012. But come 2013, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis should become the newest member of the ultra-exclusive $1 million assistant coaches' club.

Les Miles announced Tuesday that Chavis is in the process of finalizing a new three-year contract which will pay him $900,000 his season, $1.1 million in 2013, and $1.3 million in 2014, for an average salary of $1.1 million over the life of the deal. The deal will represent a $200,000 (or 29 percent) raise from 2011 to 2012.

"I think this is really just market value," Miles said. "He has been tremendously loyal to LSU ... He's turned down opportunities. He could easily be at any number of places in the SEC as the defensive coordinator for a huge raise."

That won't be the case once the new contract is signed. As things currently stand, Chavis's $900,000 in 2012 will make him the SEC's second-highest paid assistant behind only Alabama's Kirby Smart, who'll earn $950,000.

But Chavis's 2013 salary is scheduled to make the league's only million-dollar assistant, and only the second in league history; Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn earned more than $1.3 million in 2011 before accepting the head coaching position at Arkansas State. (Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham could conceivably enter Chavis's and Smart's rarefied air in the coming weeks. He's agreed to a two-year extension but hasn't cemented the financial details as of yet.)

Clemson's Chad Morris is currently the nation's highest-paid assistant coach at the same $1.3 million figure awarded his mentor Malzahn. But it's Chavis who's arguably been the nation's most valuable assistant since being hired in 2009, taking over a Tiger defense ranked 32nd in total defense in 2008 and improving it every season: 26th in 2009, 12th in 2010, and 2nd in 2011. LSU's record, not coincidentally, has followed the exact some trend during that period: 8-5 to 9-4 to 11-2 to 13-1.

And as difficult as it would be to top his defense's 2011 performance, Chavis might nonetheless have the players to do it in 2012. If he does, this million-dollar contract might wind up looking like a bargain no matter how many zeroes are involved.

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