"I'm very happy that I'm a part of Georgia football and thank Mark Richt for that opportunity," VanGorder said. "I would also like to thank all the defensive players and defensive coaches -- Jon Fabris, Willie Martinez and Rodney Garner -- who share in this award with me."
Last season, VanGorder's Bulldog defense finished first in the SEC and fourth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 ppg), first in the SEC in Red Zone Defense (58.8 percent), second in the SEC in Rushing Defense (114.0 ypg), and allowed only 30 second half points in the final seven games of the season.
In addition, the Bulldogs finished 13-1, won the SEC and Nokia Sugar Bowl Championships, and were ranked third in the final national polls. He was named a national finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
Two Bulldog defensive players were named first team All-America -- OLB Boss Bailey and DE David Pollack. Another, All-SEC DT Johnathan Sullivan was a first round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints.
"We are pleased to present this year's award to Coach VanGorder in recognition of the outstanding job he did last season for the Georgia Bulldogs," said Southern Sports Tonight CEO Scott McKinney. "The Georgia defense was one of the best in the nation, and will go down in history as one of the best of all time. Coach VanGorder demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment in leading and guiding his squad. He is well-deserving of this honor. "
Previous winners of the Valvoline Southern Sports Tonight Assistant Coach of the Year award include Jimbo Fisher, LSU (2002), Charlie Strong, South Carolina (2001), Joe Lee Dunn, Mississippi State (2000), Neil Callaway, Alabama (1999), David Cutcliffe, Tennessee (1998) and Dewayne Dixon, Florida (1997).
"It is a great honor to have my name alongside those coaches," VanGorder said. "It makes the honor that much greater."
VanGorder was named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at UGA in January, 2001, after serving the 2000 season as defensive coordinator at Western Illinois. He is the second current Bulldog assistant to win the award, as Neil Callaway, now Georgia's offensive line coach, won the award in 1999 while an assistant at Alabama.