Notre Dame didn’t waste anytime after defeating Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl to hire a new defensive coordinator. Multiple media outlets are reporting that Brian Van Gorder will be the new defensive coordinator for the Irish, taking over for Bob Diaco who left to become the head coach at UConn. Van Gorder is coming to Notre Dame after serving as the linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan this past season. Van Gorder has a history with Brian Kelly, working with him at Central Michigan as defensive coordinator.
Before coaching for the New York Jets this season in the NFL, Van Gorder has had multiple coaching stops in his career. In 2003 he won the Broyles award as the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia. Van Gorder’s defense finished the season in 2003 ranked 3rd nationally in scoring defense, 4th in total defense, and 6th nationally in passing defense. Following his stint at UGA, Van Gorder took a head coaching job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He only lasted one season in Jacksonville before leaving to take the head coaching position at Georgia Southern. Following one season with Georgia Southern, Van Gorder took the defensive coordinator position with the Atlanta Falcons from 2008 until 2012 when he took the defensive coordinator position with Auburn University.
This is definitely an interesting hire by the Irish. While most thought the Irish would hire from within, I always thought Brian Kelly would at least take a look outside the program. The hiring of Van Gorder points to a possible move from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. It does make sense as Louis Nix in enroute to the NFL and the Irish are left without a clear cut nose tackle, which is needed to successfully run a 3-4 defense. Of all the candidates that were out there in the rumor mill, Van Gorder’s name was not mentioned by many. It will be interesting to see the future of the Irish defense with the new hire and if it will bring a change of philosophy to South Bend.