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Brian VanGorder named Notre Dame's new defensive coordinator

Dave Martin/Associated Press
Brian VanGorder has officially been named the new defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

Brian VanGorder officially was named Notre Dame's defensive coordinator Monday. VanGorder had been the New York Jets' linebacker coach this season.

NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport reported in December that the move was coming.

The well-traveled VanGorder -- the Notre Dame job is his eighth since 2000 and his third in three years -- is a former defensive coordinator with Auburn (2012), the Atlanta Falcons (2008-11), Georgia (2001-04), Western Illinois (2000), Central Michigan (1998-99) and UCF (1997). He was the Falcons' linebacker coach in 2007 before being promoted, and he also spent a season as linebacker coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2005). In addition, he left the Jaguars to become coach at FCS powerhouse Georgia Southern (2006) but went back to the NFL after just one season with the Eagles.

This will be the second time VanGorder, 54, has worked with Irish coach Brian Kelly; VanGorder served as Kelly's defensive coordinator at Division II Grand Valley State from 1989-91. VanGorder had been a high school coach in Florida for seven years when Kelly hired him in 1989.

VanGorder replaces Bob Diaco as the Irish's coordinator; Diaco left to become coach at Connecticut.

VanGorder's college work was top-notch until his ill-fated one-season stint at Auburn. The Tigers were 81st in the nation in total defense under VanGorder in 2012, including ranking 100th against the run. The defense wasn't much better this season, ranking 87th overall, but the Tigers did improve to 63rd against the run and lost in the BCS national championship game. In hindsight, a terrible offense was Auburn's issue in 2012 much more than a terrible defense. Still, the defense was bad in 2012.

VanGorder almost certainly will continue to use a 3-4 scheme. He is considered a good teacher of linebackers, and it will be interesting to see his work with Jaylon Smith, who was one of the best true freshman linebackers in the nation this season. But the Irish lose their other three starters at the position; they also lose two starters -- nose tackle Louis Nix III and end Stephon Tuitt -- off their line, so while the Irish have recruited well the past few seasons, VanGorder is not taking over an ideal situation.

VanGorder's history suggests this was a good hire. But there are some negatives, namely VanGorder's peripatetic ways. How long can Kelly count on him remaining in South Bend?

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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