The search for LSU’s next defensive coordinator continues in Baton Rouge, and it may have taken an interesting turn recently into enemy territory. One potential candidate LSU has reportedly had contact with is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has also been contacted about the job vacancy as well.
Let’s start with the NFL option, which may be the more likely of the two. Tucker is not likely to remain with the Bears amid a season of change in the front office and the pressure rising to elevate the Bears to a team worthy of competing with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in 2015. The Bears finished the 2014 NFL season ranked 30th in total defense in the league, so a change at defensive coordinator is expected to happen. Tucker has been an assistant coach at LSU before, coaching the defensive backs at LSU in 2000 before moving to Ohio State for a few seasons en route to the NFL. Tucker has been in the NFL since 2005 with stops in Cleveland, Jacksonville and, most recently, Chicago. If he is on the market, he could remain in the NFL in some capacity, but his pending free agency is something that has caught LSU’s eyes and it could be a chance to regroup as a defensive coordinator.
Now, what about Smart?
Of the two names recently reported to be connected to the job search by The Advocate, Smart is certainly the one that should raise more eyebrows. Smart is a seasoned defensive coordinator at Alabama, which makes moving to LSU nothing more than a lateral move at best, unless the Tigers happen to cut a nicer paycheck. LSU will not be afraid to do that, although Smart is already earning $1.35 million per season as a member of Nick Saban‘s coaching staff. Smart’s salary was just slightly more than what LSU’s previous defensive coordinator, John Chavis, was earning. Smart is also a previous LSU assistant, coaching the defensive backs in 2004 in his one season at LSU.
Odds are probably not very good LSU can manage to lure Smart away from Alabama, although it would be a huge coaching change within the SEC, and more specifically the SEC West. But LSU has the resources to go out and be connected to any number of good, quality options. Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop was previously considered a popular target for LSU, but Shoop confirmed last week he is sticking with James Franklin at Penn State.
LSU also has former Florida and Illinois head coach Ron Zook on the radar.