LSU is in transition mode on the defensive side of the ball, with longtime assistant John Chavis now serving as the Texas A&M defensive coordinator.
Tigers coach Les Miles selected Kevin Steele, the former head coach at Baylor (1999-2002), to replace Chavis and landed Ed Orgeron (2005-07), former head coach at Ole Miss, to oversee the defensive line. Miles acknowledged Thursday that Chavis, who is in the middle of an ongoing lawsuit with LSU surrounding his departure after spending the last six seasons as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, will be missed on the field.
“John has been a great guy for us, and I have great respect for him,” Miles said on the final day of SEC media days. “Just a tremendous person. You suspect that he will coach great defense at A&M.”
He’ll be missed by players, said LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith.
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“Coach Chavis was like a father figure to me. It was strange not having him out there [during spring drills],” Beckwith said. “But Coach Steele came in and filled that role well.”
A&M picked sixth
Texas A&M was picked to finish sixth in the seven-team West Division in balloting by media members who attended SEC media days.
The Aggies received four of a possible 225 first-place votes, finishing ahead of only Mississippi State among division rivals.
Auburn received the most votes to win the SEC title, with a league-high 96 first-place ballots. That placed the Tigers ahead of Alabama (80) and Georgia (28), the only other schools to reach double-digit totals.
Yet the Crimson Tide emerged as the West Division favorite with 1,405 poll points. Auburn received only 1,362 poll points, despite earning more first-place votes in the West Division (108) than Alabama (92).
That means Alabama finished with far more second-place votes than Auburn among balloters who did not pick them to win the division.
Freeze urges change
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, a Mississippi native, called for state officials to remove the Confederate battle flag emblem that appears in one corner of the official state flag.
“I think it’s time that we move in a different direction with the state flag,” said Freeze, adding that the stars-and-bars symbol “has been hijacked somewhat” in recent years by white supremacist groups and other groups that “have meant ill will toward other people.”
“In the world I live in, if something is creating ill will in any way toward someone, it’s difficult for me to support that,” Freeze said.
LSU roster update
Miles said two players dealing with legal issues have been dismissed from the team, defensive tackles Tra Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao.
Myles said he is “very optimistic” that other unnamed players currently on suspension while dealing with legal issues will return to the team at a later date.
Georgia QB spot open
Although Georgia has been installed as the favorite to win the East Division by media members who cover the league, coach Mark Richt said he has “no idea” who his starting quarterback will be when the Bulldogs open the season Sept. 5 against Louisiana-Monroe.
The primary candidates are Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. Jacob Park, a third candidate who took part in spring drills, has left school with plans to transfer.
“We are going to have a tremendous competition,” said Richt, who plans to rotate quarterbacks regularly during the 29 fall practices leading into the opener. “I think it’s going to take a while.”
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760