American Football Database
American Football Database
John Chavis
File:John Chavis1.jpg
Current position
TitleDefensive coordinator
Biographical details
Born (1956-10-16) October 16, 1956 (age 64)
Dillon, South Carolina
Playing career
Position(s)Middle guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Tennessee (GA)
Alabama A&M (DL)
Alabama State (DC)
Alabama A&M (DC)
Tennessee (DL/LB)
Tennessee (DC/LB)

Johnny "John" Chavis (born October 16, 1956), nicknamed "The Chief", is the current defensive coordinator and linebackers coach of the LSU Tigers football team and former defensive coordinator, linebacker coach, and associate head coach at the University of Tennessee.

Coaching career

Early career

Before returning to Tennessee (where he had briefly been a graduate assistant), Chavis had been defensive coordinator at Alabama A&M, a historically Black university. There he led the Defense of the Division II school to the best defensive record in the nation. The Bulldogs ranked first in total defense in 1987 and 1988.

Before taking the defensive coordinator job at Alabama A&M, Chavis coached as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1979, as defensive line coach at Alabama A&M from 1980–83 and then as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Alabama State in 1984-85.

"I look at their defense. Coach Chavis, he's done a great job for a long time." - Charlie Weis (Notre Dame Head Coach)[1]

Chavis and then Florida Defensive Coordinator Bob Stoops are credited with bringing the "Zone Blitz" into College Football in the mid to late 90's.[citation needed]


Chavis returned to Tennessee in 1989 as defensive line and linebackers coach under his former college coach, Johnny Majors. He was promoted to defensive coordinator under Majors' successor, Phillip Fulmer, in 1995. Under Chavis' watch, Tennessee gained a reputation for fielding some of the stingiest defenses in the nation.[2]

File:John Chavis.jpg


Following the national championship season of 1998, Chavis was named the SEC's outstanding linebacker coach. Tennessee's defense led the SEC in 1996 and ranked in the top three five of the past seven years.

In addition to supervising linebackers and the overall defense, Chavis in 1999 was named assistant head coach.

Following the 2006 season, Chavis was named as the Assistant Football Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.[3]

Chavis and other members of the staff have seen increased pressure after a slow start to the 2007 season, including double-digit losses to California and Florida.

Chavis's career at Tennessee came to an end in the middle of the 2008 season. Following a 3-6 start and a blowout loss to Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Phillip Fulmer announced the following Monday that he, at the University's decision, would step down as head coach. Fulmer's resignation would ultimately oust Chavis as defensive coordinator. Chavis's final three games would bring confidence but major disappointment to his final days with UT, starting with an embarrassing 13-7 loss to Wyoming which would keep UT from making a bowl for the second time in four years. Chavis would win his final game at UT against the University of Kentucky, 28-10, continuing a 24 game win streak against the Wildcats.

Playing career

Chavis came to UT as a walk-on defensive lineman and later was granted a scholarship on the basis of his play at middle guard and tackle. He played for both Bill Battle and Johnny Majors. He lettered in 1977 and 1978 and received his degree from the College of Education in 1979. Chavis became a starter for the Tennessee Defense during his senior season. Chavis is a native of Dillon, South Carolina.

NFL Players

The following is an incomplete list of defensive players who were drafted into the NFL, or who made an NFL Roster since Chavis took over as Defensive Coordinator in 1995:


He and his wife, Diane Crisp Chavis, are the parents of two sons, C. John Chavis (age 40, married to Sandra Lee Chavis) and Jason Chavis (age 38).


External links