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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville. Arkansas head coach Chad Morris can be seen in the background on the far right. - Photo by Ben Goff

FAYETTEVILLE -- For 30 minutes, John Chavis sat without moving. If he blinked his eyes it was unnoticeable.

His facial expression never changed. It was like someone who had just been told he had won two courtside seats to the Los Angeles Lakers game but didn't want to sit next to LaVar Ball.

Chavis is the new defensive coordinator for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. It wasn't a surprise, and it has been a hire that has skeptics after his old-school defense at Texas A&M lost to five-loss Wake Forest 55-52 and gave up 646 yards in the Belk Bowl.

For a variety of reasons Chavis had to use a variety of players, and the Aggies were coached by an interim coach.

At 61, some are wondering aloud if Chavis has lost his stinger.

When that was hinted at during his 20-minute news conference Wednesday he bristled and let it be known he still had the fire burning inside him, and he was going to do whatever it takes to help Coach Chad Morris turn Arkansas around.

He even said one of the reasons he took the job is that as LSU's defensive coordinator in 2011 he saw the best Razorbacks team he had seen in all his years, so he knows it can be done.

That year LSU was No. 1, Alabama No. 2 and Arkansas No. 3 in the country, not just the SEC West.

Chavis has been coaching in the SEC since 1979 and Arkansas is his fourth stop, having started at Tennessee (his alma mater and where he played college football), LSU and Texas A&M.

As a defensive coordinator, he has faced Alabama 14 times. He won only three times, but seven of the 11 defeats were by less than 10 points, and one was for the national championship. After that game, then-LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers did nothing different than their first meeting when LSU won at Alabama, and Saban said the Tide had to put in new wrinkles for the offense to have a chance.

On Wednesday, Chavis spoke with a quiet confidence, admitting he preferred to stay in the SEC because he loves the league and the challenge of coaching in the best conference in America.

He talked about the importance of recruiting and that one coach cannot solve all problems, but the right model -- or group of coaches on the same page -- can.

He will play with four defensive linemen and zone blitz.

Chavis knows he is by far the oldest coach on the Razorbacks staff, although he joked that he looks 38 years old.

He admitted there will be a day when it's time to ride off into the sunset, but that day isn't today.

"I have a lot of football left in me," said Chavis, who is five years younger than Nick Saban.

He was emphatic that Chad Morris has put together the right staff to get the Hogs back to where they were in 2011, a national contender, but he warned it won't be overnight. It takes time to get all the pieces in place, and what's missing right now are players who are difference-makers in the Razorbacks program.

The next couple of classes have a chance to go down in the Razorbacks history books if they work hard, keep their noses clean and do what they are told.

"It is a process that starts with recruiting, and that will be our focus on the last half this recruiting period," said Chavis, dispelling the rumors he doesn't recruit.

What he was most confident about was the chemistry of the staff Morris has assembled. All of the offensive coaches except for Barry Lunney came from SMU, but only one defensive coach came with Morris and Chavis had a say in all of his staff, which obviously made him happy.


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Sports on 01/11/2018

Print Headline: Confident Chavis believes in fit with Hogs

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