The search continues

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

When it comes to LSU's vacant defensive coordinator position, the search continues and so far, that search has been increasingly underwhelming.

The Tigers were hit with a Joe Frazier-like punch to the gut the day after their disappointing last-second loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, and they have yet to recover.

They fell to the ground and ever since, they've groggily stumbled to the ropes, desperately trying to grab one in hopes of beating the count.

It's hard to regain your composure when your defensive coordinator ups and leaves after leading your defense to eight years of dominance.

What made things even worse is the fact that John Chavis left to be the defensive coordinator at SEC West rival Texas A&M. That's like your spouse leaving you for the next-door neighbor.

Word on the street is that Chavis was unhappy with his contract, and he had become frustrated with how putrid the Tigers have been on offense throughout the years.

It's hard to argue with that. This season's quarterback play was downright atrocious. It put plenty of pressure on the LSU defense to stand tall and not yield any points.

Unfortunately, this was no freak occurrence during Chavis' watch. Back in 2011, he led arguably the greatest defense in school history--a unit that only allowed 11 points a game and only gave up 20 or more twice all season.

In the national championship game, his defense played their butts off against Alabama, but the offense could only muster 97 total yards and zero points.

In 2010, the Tiger defense carried them to an 11-2 season and Cotton Bowl victory despite the offense only getting nine touchdowns out their quarterbacks all year.

There is no doubt that Chavis is one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation, and now he's gone.

The Tigers have felt the effects since his departure. Within two hours of him leaving, standout linebacker Kwon Alexander announced that he will skip his senior season and go pro.

Not long afterward, cornerback Jalen Collins did the same and just last week, defensive end Danielle Hunter followed suit.

All three players were advised by draft experts to stay in school. They ignored that advice and jumped ship. It makes you wonder if one, two or maybe all three would have stayed if their defensive coordinator hadn't left town.

On the recruiting trail, guys like Justin Martin are now passing on LSU with Chavis out of the picture. Martin is a four-star cornerback that was leaning toward the Tigers but after Chavis left, he wasted no time in committing to Tennessee.

He was not the only defensive recruit to do so, and he certainly will not be the last.

If LSU wants to save face with these top recruits that are on the fence, they need to make a big hire, and they need to make one fast. National Signing Day is less than a month away.

However, the Tigers have taken their sweet time in what has been a lackluster coaching search to say the least.

They showed initial interest in former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, a guy that had impressive defensive coordinator stints at both Auburn and Texas. But it was bad timing for the Tigers. Chizik was already on his way to North Carolina.

They then turned their focus to Clancy Pendergast. He was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator when they made it to the Super Bowl back in 2008. He later had successful stints at California and USC.

There were reports that Pendergast would take the job if offered but apparently, LSU dropped the ball.

They then interviewed Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Shoop's defense was ranked second overall this season.

With Shoop turning the job down so quickly and later saying it was an "easy decision," it makes you wonder about Les Miles' expertise as a salesman.

That setback has made Tiger defensive line coach Brick Haley one of the leading candidates for the position.

I think LSU would be making a big mistake if they settled for Haley.

This isn't LSU circa 1995. This is the LSU of the modern era, one of the flagship programs in college football.

Playing in an always-stacked SEC West and having to deal with explosive offenses like that of Auburn, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, they need a proven defensive coordinator. They can't afford to go with a first-timer.

It surely wouldn't hurt if the Tigers could bring in a guy with name recognition, a guy that instantly strikes a chord with recruits and makes them want to play for him. That's key in grabbing these undecided prospects before signing day.

LSU has everything it needs to lure big names on campus. They've got the tradition, the atmosphere, the facilities, the talent and a coaching staff that features Miles and Cam Cameron.

Now it's time for them to think outside the box and go after these big names. Long-time NFL defensive coordinators like Jim Haslett and Perry Fewell are now out on the open market. Why not take a chance?

Haslett was a playoff-winning head coach, and Fewell won a Super Bowl ring with Giants.

But then again, maybe the Tigers have wised up.

There have been reports that they have recently been flooded with interest from NFL and college defensive coordinators across the country. One guy that has been named is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

If that's true, LSU needs to get on the ball and make a hire. The more time that position is vacant, the more recruits will be slipping out of their grasp.