VANGORDER

Reports of Ellis Johnson's rebirth were greatly exaggerated.

One of the candidates I looked on with kind eyes has signed on to become South Carolina's defensive coordinator.

Needless to say, I'm giddy at the hiring of Brian VanGorder.

Would Foster or Tenuta have been more exciting? Sure. But VanGorder has one advantage over both of them: He's done it in the SEC.

During his stint in Athens, Georgia posted a 42-10 record, won one SEC championship, two SEC East Division titles, three consecutive bowl games and posted three consecutive top-10 finishes.

The Bulldogs ranked among the nation's top defenses every year under VanGorder. During his final season at Georgia in 2004, VanGorder's defense finished in the top 10 in scoring defense.


VanGorder will focus on the linebackers, which he did with the Falcons. The weekly massacre that has become the Falcons' season has become difficult for a casual fan like me to endure, but I would say that from what I've seen, the linebackers have been the closest thing to a bright spot the defense had. Michael Boley, for one, appears to be coming along well.

Again, the chart on VanGorder:


Never worse than 19th against the run. (Sniff) It's so beautiful, I think I might cry.

Coach Spurrier, your thoughts?

I really think he is going to do a super job. He is the kind of guy that I was looking for. He is a linebackers coach but he will coach everything on defense. He can over-coach the defensive line, over-coach the secondary players and so forth. Hopefully, we will be a faster, more physical team and a team that plays our assignments better.


Now, the problems with VanGorder. While he is not anywhere close to the Gypsy Coach of the South, VanGorder can be an itinerant coach.

The rundown, according to VanGorder's Falcons bio:

2006 Georgia Southern, Head Coach
2005 Jacksonville Jaguars, LB Coach
2001-04 Georgia, DC/LB Coach
2000 Western Illinois University, DC
1998-99 Central Michigan University, DC
1995-97 University of Central Florida, Asst. HC/DC, LB and Special Teams Coach
1992-94 Wayne State University, Head Coach

A few points on this: First of all, throw out the disaster at Atlanta. I'd be surprise if anyone from this coaching staff, aside from perhaps Emmitt Thomas, is retained. And though some Georgia Southern fans weren't pleased with how that situation played out, I think they're better off without VanGorder, who's a good DC but not so much a head coach.

That said, Georgia was his longest stop in one place, and the moves weren't always up. At this point, I'd be pleased with three or four years of "not Tyrone Nix."


Hoping we'll see less of this.


This also apparently came up in discussions between Spurrier and VanGorder. (Steve Spurrier -- so eager to get out of South Carolina that he wants to make sure his assistants are going to hang around.)

He convinced me that he and his family are ready to settle down a little bit. They are tired of moving and so hopefully we can have him, three to five, seven years, however it works out. He has a three-year deal and Ray has a two-year deal.


Oh, and Ray is Ray Rychleski, the new special teams coach. I reserve the right to misspell his name at least twice a week without anybody saying anything.

Spurrier again:

The biggest thing about Ray is that he hasn't had a punt blocked in seven years at Maryland. Hopefully that will continue here for seven years, or however long we get this thing worked out here (at South Carolina). [Emphasis, as usual, is mine.]


Not that Spurrier's still steaming about the blocked punts against Florida and Clemson or anything.

Now, if we can just get someone to coach defense for the basketball team...

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