Chizik Says VanGorder Was His "Only" Target

Auburn introduced Brian VanGorder as the Tigers' defensive coordinator on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.--After more than a month-long search, head coach Gene Chizik officially introduced Brian VanGorder as Auburn's new defensive coordinator Wednesday.

"I'm extremely excited to have Brian here with us at Auburn," Chizik said. "When I went to start with this hire, I had one guy in mind. There was one guy that I talked to, not five, not 10, one. I only talked to one guy."

VanGorder said the professional way in which the hiring process was conducted by Auburn made him feel like the decision to come to the Plains, which he said was difficult, was a good one.

"I think, as I look at our profession, there's certain places, there's ideas from a family standpoint that you think are special," said VanGorder, who has five children, three college aged, with his wife Pollie.

"I just think right now, for myself and my family, that Auburn's a great opportunity, and we really, really want to be a part of the tradition and be a part of the excitement and pageantry of the incredible game day here.

"We're well aware of the Auburn family and the excitement that surrounds it. We hope we can make our way into that and be a major part of it."

VanGorder takes over at defensive coordinator for Ted Roof, who accepted the coordinator position at Central Florida in early December before joining Bill O'Brien's staff at Penn State this week.

It has not yet been decided whether VanGorder will also assume the responsibility of coaching linebackers, which Roof coached during his three years at Auburn.

"We've talked a little bit about some of that," said the Tigers' new defensive coordinator. "Gene and I haven't etched anything in stone. We'll continue to communicate and I think that Gene is wanting to go through an entire evaluation process together and kind of look at all of it and then make sound decision from there."

VanGorder said that the Auburn defense will continue to work out of a 4–3 base, but also be multiple in its makeup.

"I think that's today's football," he said. "I think you have to be able to do that."

VanGorder said that a commitment to excellence is the first thing he stresses philosophically on defense.

"The next thing to me is execution," he added. "I think that if you've got the idea of extreme effort in what you're doing through a strong commitment, then really this game comes down to execution, your ability to execute." Having coached at the collegiate level and most recently the professional level, VanGorder noted there is not much difference between interacting with players as collegians and pros.

"You hope that you can help them along in respects to their journey," said VanGorder of interacting with college players. "You have more of an influence and more of a conversation along those lines than you do at the NFL level."

One difference between the college and NFL game is recruiting, which VanGorder said he's looking forward to because Auburn has much to offer.

"I'm looking forward to being honest and up front about the opportunity that a young man has here at Auburn and what we think we can do in terms of their development," he said. "The development part of it, which is so crucial, they don't really factor in a lot times to their decision. I think it's crucial.

"I think I'll be able to really sell on that particular area of the idea that we'll give them a better chance to become the best they can be here at Auburn."

The 52-year old Michigan native comes to Auburn after spending the last five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, one as linebackers coach and four as defensive coordinator. Under his direction this season, the Falcons fielded the NFL's 6th-ranked squad in rushing defense (97 yards per game) and ranked 12th in the league in total defense (333.6 yards per game).

Prior to joining the Falcons in 2007, VanGorder was the head coach at Georgia Southern for a year after spending one year coaching linebackers for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005.

VanGorder also brings previous SEC coaching experience to the Plains. From 2001-2004, he served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia, where he won the 2003 Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country after the Bulldogs' defense finished the season ranked third nationally in scoring defense and fourth in total defense.

VanGorder also has coaching stints at Western Illinois (2000), Central Michigan (1998-99), Central Florida (1995-97), Wayne State (1992-94) and Grand Valley State (1989-91).

Current ESPN analyst and former Georgia defender David Pollack took to Twitter to voice his thoughts on his former defensive coordinator, saying VanGorder "knows defense inside and out. Not good news or SEC O's," and that he "was the biggest football junkie I have ever been around. Studies hard, demands excellence and teaches u how 2 b a man."

VanGorder will be tasked with improving an Auburn defense that ranked 81st nationally in total defense in 2011, allowing opponents to churn out 408 yards and nearly 29 points a game.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories