Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after Duke loss


Notre Dame announced the firing of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder one day after the Irish's shocking loss to Duke that sent the team to 1-3.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder signals to his players in the third quarter against Nevada.

VanGorder had come under scrutiny since the opening week when Notre Dame lost 50-47 to Texas. After a win against Nevada, the defense allowed 36 points to Michigan State and 38 to Duke in a pair of home losses. Through four games, the team has given up 134 points.

Even after the Duke loss, Irish coach Brian Kelly offered support for VanGorder and the defense when asked about possible changes.

"Actually that's probably the one area I feel better about today," Kelly said. "We did what I wanted today in terms of coaching. Coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today. I was pleased from that perspective. Obviously, we put our defense in a bad situation today. They gave our offense a chance to win, quite frankly."

Less than 24 hours later, the move to relieve VanGorder of his duties was announced.

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"This is a difficult decision," Kelly said Sunday in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn't it where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.

Greg Hudson, who joined the staff this season as a defensive analyst, will assume VanGorder's responsibilities. He previously played for Notre Dame and was an assistant at Florida State among several other stops.

"It's never easy to make a change on your staff, but I'm confident in Greg's ability to lead our defense." Kelly said. "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."

According to Notre Dame’s most recently available federal tax return, Brian VanGorder was credited with a total of just over $1.1 million in compensation during the 2014 calendar year ($1,106,156). That included $954,881 in base salary, $85,792 in other reportable compensation and $26,000 in retirement and other deferred compensation.

The inclusion of VanGorder’s compensation in the document means that in 2014 he was one of the university’s five most highly compensated employees who was not an officer, director, trustee or other key employee. (He was No. 5 among those five, behind men's basketball coach Mike Brey; Michael Donovan, a managing director in the university’s investment offce; Kelly and women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw.

Contributing: Steve Berkowitz