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Sunday Update: The Defensive Coordinator Search

Checking in on LSU’s defensive coordinator search and updating some news and notes.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Well, never boring, is it?

So, fresh off the news of one big recruiting win and one loss, LSU fans were hit by a report that LSU would be interviewing Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops for the job "and that he would likely be offered" it.

So after doing some digging, I figured I'd give y'all as much of an update as I can.

For one, Les Miles did not fly to Dallas expressly to interview Mike Stoops, much less offer him the job, if he even did so. The reason being, that Miles' agent, George Bass, is based out of Dallas and that's where the interviews are taking place. Plus, with Dallas being a major airline hub, it's easier for assistants to fly in there versus Baton Rouge.

So far I've heard nothing to refute the fact that Stoops is one of the coaches interviewing, but that's just it. One of several. It's been described by others as a "cattle call" of candidates. Ross Dellenger is also reporting that Clancy Pendergast and Penn State coordinator Bob Shoop (sidenote: how many of the message board set have confused Stoops and Shoop in the last day or so?) have also been contacted, although it's not known whether or not they've gone to Dallas for an interview. There's also been more talk of Kevin Steele either interviewing or joining the list of interviewees. I know this much -- with the exception of the Cam Cameron hire, it's never been Miles' M.O. to only interview one coach and make a move. So let's not jump to any conclusions on Mike Stoops yet -- he's just a name on a list right now.

Honestly, from what I'm told, "interview" is almost too formal of a word anyway. What it really comes down to is Miles and these guys sitting in a room and, to steal a phrasing from Derek Ponamsky, "talkin' ball." It's very much a feel and a fit type thing -- do Miles and the coach in question agree on the important things with regards to how a program works, and more importantly will he fit in with Miles and his staff.

Anyways, here's what I know right now:

  • Something should happen this week sometime. I know everybody wants the situation settled ASAP, but with it being a recruiting dead period there's time to make sure you interview the people you're interested in. The American Football Coaches Association convention starts next weekend in Louisville, which might provide more opportunities to talk. The dead period ends on January 15. I would expect something to happen by then at the latest.

  • My reaction to the Stoops news was a lot like Paul's on Saturday. Kind of a "...Wha??" Doesn't seem like a fit for a number of reasons. But with rumors that he's on the outs in Norman, it's certainly in his interest to interview for a high-profile job like LSU. Maybe Miles felt he owed him the professional courtesy of a sit-down. Seems like an unlikely move though.

  • Shoop remains an interesting name. He's a northeast guy -- from Pennsylvania, played receiver at Yale and coached almost exclusively in that region (including a three-year stint as Columbia's head coach) before joining James Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt, where he did a strong job before following him to Penn State. Experience in the conference is probably a big plus with Miles, and returning to the SEC may be what's attracting Shoop to the job. I'm not sure what Penn State's current financial situation is, but it wouldn't surprise me if LSU can offer more money after everything that's happened up there in recent years.

  • Steele would be a curious choice given his closeness, both professionally and personally, with John Chavis. The Chief actually wanted to hire Steele to coach defensive backs coach a few years back when Corey Raymond was brought in. A Steele hire could be related to Brick Haley's status as well. What was really interesting, after listening to a segment on Football Scoop Radio on 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge Sunday night, was the idea that Steele "doesn't really interview" for jobs. He's been around the block, from the NFL to even being a head coach, and he's a confidant to Nick Saban to the point that he can probably stay in Tuscaloosa as long as he likes. I guess in the coaching community it's more of a situation where you know what he's about and either that works for you or it doesn't.

  • Haley has kind of had his life turned upside down by all this in the last few days. I was initially told he wanted to stay at LSU, and I'm told that Miles would like to keep him around, but he has options. Sources tell me the offer to take over Mississippi State's defense is a legit one, and he'll likely need such a promotion to get out of his newly signed contract extension here. Haley's decision likely still sets off the other dominos, and if the rumors start to swirl more around somebody who either has a history with Haley (like Steele) or who would likely fit in with Haley coaching-wise (i.e., not a defensive line coach), than that probably indicates that Brick is staying.

  • Word began to leak out Sunday afternoon that Pendergast has been eliminated. On the aforementioned FB Scoop show they spoke of Pendergast having chances at a couple of jobs and not getting them. Nobody seems to know the reason for sure, but it looks like LSU is on that list now as well. Some guys are maybe more cut out for the NFL, and maybe that's where Pendergast ends up? He'd largely worked there before going to California a few years ago.

  • Nothing new on Ed Orgeron. It sounds like he'll only come into play if the defensive line job opens up, which hasn't happened yet. Back to Haley, if this Ross Dellenger report from Sunday is true, that could maybe set the table for BeBe.

  • Couple notes on other names mentioned -- the above Advocate link says that Gene Chizik was contacted, but he's taken the DC job at North Carolina. Clemson's Brent Venables' name also came up, but he was reported to have signed his extension with Clemson, per Football Scoop. Also being reported that Georgia's Jeremy Pruitt's deal has been extended, along with a pay raise. D.J. Durkin continues to be linked to Michigan, but in what capacity is at question. With Greg Mattison on hand and rumors linking Stanford's Lance Anderson to the job, there could be a chance that Durkin isn't the coordinator, giving LSU something to offer. Also, on the NFL front, there are also these whispers from Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin on Danielle Hunter.

In closing, it's important to remember that this process will probably last several more days and there are likely a lot more names involved that we'll never find out for a number of reasons. Everybody keeps saying that this hire is the most important of Miles' career, and I'm told that's not lost on him at all. He knew exactly how important John Chavis was to his success and he didn't want to lose him. He's approaching this process seriously, but remember that this is Les Miles we're talking about. He's not going to hire the guy that YOU want. He's not going to hire the guy that I want. He's going to hire the guy that HE wants, and he's going to do it his own way. If you've been paying attention for the last few years, that should come as no surprise.