Brian VanGorder is back with the Bulldogs.
VanGorder, the Bulldogs’ former defensive coordinator in the glory days under Mark Richt, is back on Georgia’s staff in a role as a defensive analyst. Persons with knowledge of the situation told DawgNation Tuesday that VanGorder returned to UGA the week of the Auburn game and helped Georgia with its defensive game plan that week. The Bulldogs defeated No. 9 Auburn 13-7 and held the Tigers without a first down in the second half.
UGA has not responded to messages seeking comment.
VanGorder effectively gives UGA three defensive coordinators on staff. He was brought in by head coach Kirby Smart, himself a longtime coordinator who still has a heavy hand in Georgia’s defense, and actual defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who came with Smart from Alabama to fill that role.
VanGorder, 57, was fired as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator on Sept. 25, the day after the Fighting Irish lost to Duke 38-35. At the time, Notre Dame was 103rd in the nation in total defense and 101st in scoring, allowing 33.5 points per game. But insiders say that had a lot more to do with the Irish’s talent base than anything VanGorder was doing.
VanGorder has a reputation for being one of the best defensive minds in the game. He engineered Georgia’s defenses from 2001-2004 when the Bulldogs won 42 games and their first SEC title in 20 years in 2002.
But VanGorder abruptly left UGA before the 2005 season to take a job as linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That set him on a path in which he has had six jobs over the last 11 years, including head coach at Georgia Southern and defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets.
Georgia has not made an announcement regarding VanGorder’s employment, but he hasn’t exactly kept a low profile. He has been seen at UGA’s football facility in coaching gear and on the Bulldogs’ practice field and he sat on the front row for Georgia’s basketball game against Furman this past Thursday.
Bringing in former coaches and coordinators as analysts and consultants is a bit of a trend in college football. Alabama brought in former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian as an offensive analyst earlier this season.