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Brian VanGorder is officially Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator

Jan 13, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

BrianVanGorder Getty Images

Notre Dame made official the hiring of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, a move that’s been imminent for a few weeks. VanGorder joins the Irish after coaching linebackers for the New York Jets, and has coordinated elite defenses at both the professional and collegiate levels.

Before the Jets, VanGorder returned to college football for one season, coordinating the Auburn defense under Gene Chizik in 2012. He was reportedly the highest paid defensive coordinator in college football, matching Kirby Smart’s Alabama contract. VanGorder was also Mark Richt’s first Georgia defensive coordinator, putting together a string of elite defenses before pursuing jobs in the NFL.

At the professional level, VanGorder coordinated the Falcons defense under Mike Smith, putting together an attacking defense during the most successful string of seasons in Atlanta history. Known for a blitzing, multiple front defense, VanGorder anchored most of his units out of a four-man front, but spent the last year working with Rex Ryan, one of the top 3-4 coaches in football.

VanGorder’s connection with Brian Kelly go back 20 years to Grand Valley State, where he coached with Kelly and Mike Denbrock. He’s been a head coach at both Wayne State, his alma mater, and for one season at Georgia Southern.

  1. kcoral - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Hope he can recruit…

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      He can all he has to do is pull up in BMW or Mercedes n say I used to work in NFL. Not that hard. Sh!t, I could recruit. Recruiting smart good kids who can play ball? Therein lies the problem.

  2. mcirish27 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    The release from UND that Keith links at the top is full of REALLY compelling nuggets about his previous stops. Worth a read.

    Also of interest, I’ve thought since being introduced to him (via this blog) last month that BVG really is going for the Chicago cop look. This was only confirmed when reading that he graduated from Wayne State with a Criminal Justice degree and gave all of his kids cop-sounding names – “He has five children: Molloy, Morgan, Mack, Montgomery and Malone.”

    Love this guy already.

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      I beg to differ. With that pornstache, I think he’s going after the pornostars like Winston. Kids names sound like pornstars to me, some are look it up

  3. farwest99 - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    With VanG helming the D, expect to see Jaylon astride the opposing QB. Often.

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      One thing I hope to see more of: ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK! No more of this wait, think n see BS

      • irishpuma - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        WTF a purely football comment and on point….dick time to do another line son.

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:57 PM

      Well don’t mind if I do

      _________________________________________________________Plugs left nostril ***SNORT***

    • ndnapa - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Hopefully this will happen. Diaco never sent this best pass rusher on a bad pass-rushing team, which makes me glad he is gone. Love the Van Gorder move. We can expect to see not only LB blitzes, but overload blitzes from safeties and CBs, which Rex Ryan is known for.

      really belive this is the perfect hire.

  4. regionirish - Jan 13, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    The bottom line is the defense needs to generate more turnovers. This past year was unacceptable. I hope to see more press man coverage or more cover 1. I don’t think the D line will be good enough to get consistent pressure so an attacking style will be needed.

    Sacks ranked 84th

    Picks ranked 53rd

    Hopefully BVG and install his blitz package quickly.

    • bearcatirishfan - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Do you honestly think we have the corners for press man coverage? Maybe Russell but who’s gonna play man to man with the other receivers. There’s no way we could have played man press list yer with “just got my doors blown off” Jackson and “whiff” Farley.

      I’m pretty sure the style of defense played was based largely on limitations in the secondary and lack of pressure on the QB.

      • regionirish - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:42 PM


        Yes they can play man. Russell can surely play man. I would play Jaylon man with any TE or RB in the country. Cole luke can play man.

        I am not saying to play man every down like MSU does. I just think ND needs to do a better job creating pressure, thus more turnovers.

        It’s the chicken or the egg… can’t get pressure so play zone or you can’t get pressure because you play too much zone…..

      • bearcatirishfan - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM

        Not really,
        either you get pressure with your front lineman al la the 07 ny giants or you blitz. If you can’t get pressure with your front four and can’t cover man you have to play the two safety deep zone cause if you can’t cover man in this scenario you can’t blitz.

        Sure two or three guys can cover man but what happens in a 3 wide set like FSU runs with a tight end and a running back coming out on a wheel route does jaylon cover the te and the running back?

        Point is this years defense especially with fox and Calabrese, although fox got a lot better , we’re not going to be able to play too much man just couldn’t. They had to rely on the front to get pressure which only really happened against USC. Next year might be different but only the secondary ad their abilities will dictate that. Las thing I want to see is another tentutaesc blitz happy defense that does not get to the QB and leave underwhelming cover guys exposed to get burnt like the 06 Michigan game.

    • nudeman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Consistent problem under Diaco.
      I am too pedestrian of a fan/viewer to know if that’s because of his bend/don’t break approach
      One thing is certain: We rarely see ND tacklers trying to rip the ball from a RB’s arms, which is the norm these days.

      They should hire the Bears’ Charles Tillman to coach the DBs.

      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        They should just sneak Tillman in as a player.

      • jmfinsd - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        We saw it with WR Galleon at UM. 2 guys ran into each other, another tried for the strip and spun Galleon around, thus avoiding 2 others trying to tackle him who then collided ala Keystone Cops.

      • irishpuma - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        Yeah nude asking for a lot we can not even tackle there is no way they can strip especially when the guy with the ball is always 5 feet ahead of them. lol

        Our tackling resembled a strip drill where they try to keep the runner on his feet while others rip at the ball we just never got to the ripping of the ball part.

      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:58 PM

        I love strippers!

      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:59 PM

        Stripping too! Used to make mad cash doing it

    • mediocrebob - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      You said the same thing with Tenuta, didn’t you? 8 months later, calling for his head…

  5. 4horsemenrideagain - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    a successful defense is composed of many constituent parts; size, speed, strength, recognition, reaction, technique, and bravado.

    VG brings another vital component to the table; the mustache.

    not part of the ensemble cast like the beard, nor seeking fashionable acceptance like the goatee, a solid mustache is an all-too-often ignored cog in the defensive machinery. it’s manly, intimidating and deliberate. it commands respect while leading by example. the mustache is odd and arguably outdated, giving off an air of audacity, while remaining consistently mysterious.

    whether sported by wyatt earp, magnum p.i. or barney miller, there’s no way to bring the panache like donning a mustache.

    welcome to ND. and the same to you coach VG.

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Don’t forget Ron Jeremy or Ron Burgundy for that matter, we shall see

    • irishpuma - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      Possibly the best and most insightful post I have ever read on here. Kudos!!

      I would like to add to the mustachio Hall of Fame: Burt Reynolds, Ditka, Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec, Borat, Stalin, Einstein, Gandhi, Donnie Baseball, and he of the golden Thong Jason Giambi, Mario and Luigi.

      Now for the counter argument in order of villainous: Hitler, Geraldo, Weird AL, Alex Trebec,Dr Phil, Ron Jeremy (sorry dick) and anyone wearing handlebar staches.

      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:00 PM


      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:08 PM

        Puma you are maaaaad peppy today. How many Cialis did you plug today son? Can you change your screen name? Every time I see ur name, I end up googling puma swede n end up master bating for hours on end.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Ron Swanson, of course.

        big mustache, the swanson…

  6. goirishgo - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    This team is young but very athletic. It’ll be fun to see how they come together. My guess is we’ll see a dynamic offensive team that will put lots of points on the board and a defense that learns on the fly against a very tough schedule. Lots of big plays going both ways.

  7. dudeacow - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Hopefully he’s a better at disguising blitzes than Diaco.

    Diaco: “I have an idea! Lets have our corners creep up early, show blitz, wait for the QB to make the correct assignment change, blitz (ineffectively) anyway, and leave the receiver the blitzing corner was covering wide open for an easy first down!”

  8. fnc111 - Jan 13, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I like this hire. We might finally see some turnovers. I hope Mr. Van understands the limitations at ND athletically speaking. We don’t need another Tenuta in here embarrassing the school again. Controlled aggression.

  9. irishpuma - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    Here is a counterpoint to the kid that said Kizer is not very good and can not throw with a spiral and is not accurate. It is a quote from CBS sports main recruitment specialist sorry forgot the name, he was raving about Brent and Trumbettii and followed up with Kizer

    “The No. 1 signal caller in the state of Ohio is not yet a finished product, but boy did he improve his game during the 2013 season, showing a quick release and even quicker feet,” Lemming wrote. “His mobility is outstanding, he shows the arm strength to throw the deep-out with authority, and he’s considered to be the most talented high school QB that Toledo has ever produced.”

    Seems like a lot of potential there.

    • getsome99 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      The name appears to be Tom Lemming. Although I agree with his assessment and like Lemming, I think he might be a Notre Dame homer. Always seems to rate our kids higher than other recruiting experts.

      • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

        Yeah I like lemming but you are correct. He even looks like older version of Keith Arnold

    • dickasman - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      I actually think that ESPN rating is more accurately played out on the field than Rivals or anybody else.

  10. padomer - Jan 13, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Love the hire and hope that he does implement the high pressure defense here. Some great posts, the bend dont break was brutal, the stashe is on the short list of coolest, and I’ve always felt that lemming def overrates our commits by never having any criticism whatsoever lending us to believe that all the 4 and 5 stars are all americans and every 3 star and below are diamonds.

    Assuming Redfield is as advertised with the sideline to sideline range and perhaps Shumate makes the jump or any other of the safeties, I think the constant QB pressure will be huge for this team personnel wise. Trajectory pointing upward IMHO. Go Irish.

  11. North of Denver - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:23 AM

    He’s like a crazy genetic combination of Kevin Dillon, Kevin Bacon and Ron Burgundy. I think he’ll work out just fine.

  12. yaketyyacc - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    finally, a defensive coach who believes in attack, blitz, attack and blitz, the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.
    if he lives up to his reputation, and there is no reason for him not to, the Irish defense will be TOUGH.

  13. heartofgoldandblue - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    BK did a radio show this morning…No big surprise but BK back to calling the plays. Will hire a QB coach

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      i thought jeff quinn might be getting on board. sounds like he’s not.

  14. heartofgoldandblue - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Read that we are after a few new defensive line recruits… Anyone hear of any names?

    • nudeman - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Here’s how I understand it from what I read (zero inside knowledge here):
      1) Daniel Cage, 6’3″/275lbs, 3 star, Cincy area. 50/50 at best
      2) Courtney Garnett, 6’2″/280lbs, 3 star, New Orleans area. TX decommit. < 50/50
      3) Marcus Griffin, 6'3"/285lbs, 4 star, Seattle area. 50/50 at best
      4) Trey Lealaimatafo, 6'2"/301lbs, 3 star, San Antonio area. TX decommit. 50/50 at best
      5) Michael Sawyers, 6'2"/307lbs, 4 star, Nashville; Vandy commit, thinking of bailing. 50/50 at best

      As best as I can tell Sawyers and Griffin are the ones they'd most like to get; also the highest rated, so that makes sense. But really, NONE of these guys seem "likely". Major scramble mode going on. It is possible they will get none of these guys.

      • ndnapa - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        I would love to get Sawyers. Nobody stays lower than him through contact. He would play immediately. NT and DE. Cage would be nice as a 3-tech in a 4-man line set.

      • papadec - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:19 PM

        nude – espn has Marcus Griffin @ 299#, a three star & grade of 74. He played @ the HS my kids graduated from. I saw him play twice this year, including the State Championship game. irishsportsdaily has him as a decommit from Wash State & no offer from ND. He has an open date for a visit on 1/24. I get the impression that he would be more than 50/50, if ND offered

      • mtflsmitty - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:54 PM

        Papa, if ND signs Griffin espn will drop him to a 2-star.

        Keep an eye on Holly.

      • papadec - Jan 15, 2014 at 12:35 AM

        smitty – that high? Definitely agree with you regarding ND commits & espn ratings. I should go see how the other ratings view him. Bellevue HS has been a national powerhouse for over ten years & has sent several players to top programs, including linemen to the NFL. There is a Junior linemen on the team – Henry Roberts, that I know from when he went to my elementary school. I’d love to see him playing @ ND. Broke his arm in the Championship game this year.

      • irishpuma - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:13 AM

        papadec get on that recruiting trail and deliver the goods!!

  15. fitz79 - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    OK, sorry for writing an offensive rant on the VG page but I like BK calling the plays (in theory, at least). That is how he’s made his bread and butter as an offensively minded college coach, running the hurry up and spread. Ideally I hope Golson can pick up the pace from that of slowmo Rees, so we could get back to a more typical Kelly-type offense. Like the one he ran at Cinci when he took them to the BCS. With any luck ND’s offense in years to come will have more in common with Oregon and less in common with Purdue.

  16. mediocrebob - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    THIS JUST IN: Brian Kelly AKA Jim Caldwell named new Lions HC. Right again FNC

    • nudeman - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I absolutely KNEW Kelly had an alias

    • goirishgo - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      FNC is on a roll! He called this one AND the 6-6 season just completed.

  17. bridget163245 - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Why the heck does Notre Dame have there own station… There just as good as any other college team…

    • mayesdays - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      History, fan base, and money. Check out this article

    • mtflsmitty - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:14 PM

      Hi Bridget, I don’t think I’ve ever see you post here. So, welcome to the site.

      On what may be your very first post you’ve already distinguished yourself. In two short sentences you managed to misuse “there” for it’s homonym brother “their”, and misuse “there” instead of the contraction “they’re”. On top of that, you successfully ask a question (sans a question mark, of course) and seem to answer it in the very next sentence.

      Next to 4horsemen’s, now legendary, mustache post, your’s is 2nd best on the board.

  18. irishdog80 - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    The bottom line is that you tailor your defensive game plan to the team you are playing…not just run the same bend but don’t break every game. If you have better quality athletes, then attack. If you have lesser quality athletes…the FSU game next season for example…you lay back and bend but don’t break. That said, we should be more athletic on the back end and at linebacker next year. We lacked speed last year at Safety and at linebacker other than Jaylon and it showed especially against Michigan.

    The other factor is that our offense didn’t scare anyone this year. If Golson is truly ready to go, I have to believe we will have a much more dynamic offense that will put pressure on other team’s to score. The result will be more gambles by our opponents on offense and hopefully more turnovers.

    • irishpuma - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:12 AM

      well said and I agree.

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