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Gates to South Carolina; VanGorder at Defense Dept

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a stunning set of moves capping off 24 hours of wild staff changes, Brian VanGorder has left the Falcons to take a job as U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Former defense chief Robert Gates will take the defensive coordinator job at South Carolina.

New South Carolina DC.

Ellis Johnson, who had accepted the DC job with the Gamecocks after a brief stint in the same position with Arkansas, will take over the defense for the Atlanta Falcons.

"Everything I know about loyalty, I learned from Bobby Petrino," VanGorder said after accepting the third job he held Thursday.

South Carolina Steve Spurrier said he was pleased with Gates, his second DC hire of the day.

"Well, he sure did a heck of a lot better against the insurgency than our defense did against Darren McFadden," Spurrier said. "Not that that's saying a heck of a lot."

Gates was circumspect about his plans for the Gamecocks defense.

"Candidly, I believe we need to take a long, hard look at our options and make certain that we are taking the right course," Gates said. "It may be necessary to put more people on the field during some plays to slow the other offense down and create the conditions for defensive success."

Johnson also said he was pleased with his new position.

"Gosh. The big city," he said, dazed.

Ellis Johnson asks reporters to tell him again which job he's just taken.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he had no hesitancy about taking two DCs from Spurrier on the same day after his experiences with Michael Vick, Petrino and Bill Parcells.

"If you can't beat the back-stabbing slimeballs, join them," said Blank, shrugging.

But Petrino was distressed.

"What ever happened to people keeping their word?" he asked.