SOUTH BEND – Brian VanGorder has been relieved of his duties as University of Notre Dame defensive coordinator, head coach Brian Kelly announced Sunday.
Defensive analyst Greg Hudson will assume VanGorder’s responsibilities.
“This is a difficult decision,” said Kelly in a release. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.
“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense. As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”
Notre Dame dropped to 1-3 on the season after a 38-35 loss Saturday at home to Duke. The Irish, whose lone win this season was over Nevada, were a three-touchdown favorite over the Blue Devils.
A 25-year coaching veteran who has served as a defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, as well as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Florida State, Hudson joined the Irish coaching staff as a defensive analyst in June.
“Obviously, this is a difficult day for our coaching staff, but I’m excited and honored about the opportunity that Coach Kelly has afforded me,” said Hudson. “We’ve got to improve on defense, without a doubt, and I’m confident that we will. We have great student-athletes and a tremendous defensive coaching staff. I can’t wait to get started with our group.”
Hudson, a Notre Dame graduate (’90), former Irish graduate assistant in 1993 and most recently defensive coordinator at Purdue for three seasons (2013-15), also served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for three seasons at Florida State (2010-12).
Hudson helped the Seminoles improve from 108th in total defense the year prior to his arrival (2009) to second among all FBS teams in 2012 (only BCS national champion Alabama had a higher rated defense). In addition in `12, Florida State ranked second in the FBS in fewest first downs allowed (ranked 93rd in 2009), third in rush defense (ranked 108th in 2009), third in third down efficiency (ranked 101st in 2009) and sixth in scoring defense (ranked 94th in 2009).
In 2011, Hudson’s linebackers accounted for 32 percent of the Seminoles’ tackles for loss which helped Florida State finish eighth nationally in that category. FSU allowed its opponents to run for an average of just 2.35 yards per carry, which led the nation. The Seminoles finished second nationally in rushing defense (82.7), fourth in scoring defense (15.1), eighth in tackles for loss (8.62) and tied for eighth in sacks (3.08 per game).
Hudson joined the Florida State staff after spending five seasons as the defensive coordinator at East Carolina (2005-09).
During his tenure with the Pirates, East Carolina registered four consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 30 years and made four consecutive bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The Pirates also became the first team to win consecutive Conference USA championship games, pulling off the feat in 2008 and 2009. Hudson’s defenses earned a reputation for turning over opponents, coming up with 145 takeaways in five seasons, an average of 29 per season, which ranked among the top 10 of all FBS programs in that stretch. In 2009, the Pirates finished in the top 10 nationally in four defensive categories, including fumbles recovered (third), red zone defense (seventh), turnovers forced (fourth) and turnover margin (10th). Hudson’s unit also led Conference USA in scoring defense (21.93) and turnover margin.
He also has served as the defensive coordinator at Minnesota (2000-04) and as an assistant coach at Cincinnati (1997-2000).
Notre Dame plays Syracuse next Saturday at noon.