Alabama and LSU weren't the only SEC West schools making news Monday.
Hours before the Crimson Tide and Tigers kicked off in New Orleans, Auburn announced the hiring of Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator. VanGorder had four stellar seasons as Mark Richt's defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2001 to '04, and he has spent the past four years in the same role with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons ranked second this season in red-zone defense, sixth in rushing defense (97 yards a game) and 12th in total defense (333.6). Atlanta set a franchise record with four straight winning seasons with the help of VanGorder, including this season's team that went 10-6 before losing in the playoffs Sunday to the New York Giants.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family at this point in my career, both professionally and personally," VanGorder said in a release. "I'm looking forward to working at a school with the success and tradition of Auburn, and for a coach like Gene Chizik, who has led the program to a national championship.
"I'm very appreciative to the Atlanta Falcons and coach Mike Smith for the experience of the last four years. It's a great organization and will have continued success."
VanGorder will be introduced in Auburn on Wednesday.
Auburn, the 2010 BCS champ, went 8-5 and won the Chick-fil-A Bowl this past season despite a defense that ranked 79th nationally in scoring (28.92) and 81st in yards allowed (408). Former coordinator Ted Roof left for the same job at Central Florida, where he has reunited with former Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary.
During VanGorder's stint at Georgia, the Bulldogs went 42-10 and won the 2002 SEC title. Georgia finished fourth nationally in scoring defense in '02, third in '03 and ninth in '04, and VanGorder won the Broyles Award in '03 as the nation's top assistant.
"From the beginning of this process, I had one person in mind, and that was Brian," Chizik said. "He has achieved success at every level, both professionally and collegiately, which is a testament to his ability as a coach."
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