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Auburn Introduces Brian VanGorder as Defensive Coordinator

Jan. 11, 2012

Auburn, Ala. - The following is a transcript of Wednesday's press conference introducing Brian VanGorder as Auburn's defensive coordinator.

Head Coach Gene Chizik
Opening Comment
"It's a great day for Auburn University. I am extremely excited and extremely thrilled to be able to introduce the defensive coordinator, finally after a period of time. I want to make a few brief comments about Brian VanGorder, who everybody knows is going to be the defensive coordinator here at Auburn moving forward. Brian and I actually have a history that dates back quite a few years. We've never worked together, but I've always had an extreme high level of respect for everything Brian's done, all the things that he's accomplished both in college and the NFL. If you talk to any of the players that have played for him, any of the coaches that have worked around him, you're going to hear the same thing. He's a great man, and he's a great football coach. When I went to start this hire, I had one guy in mind. There was one guy that I talked to. Not five. Not 10. One. I only talked to one guy. I was going to exhaust every avenue that I could before I moved on to guy number two, which it never got to that place. I want to make that very clear, that there was one man. As Brian and I talked through this and were able to work it out, I'm just thrilled. I can't put it any other way. I'm extremely excited to have Brian here with us at Auburn. I feel like Brian feels the exact same way. We want to welcome him into the Auburn family because this is truly a special place, as he and I have talked about. Him being very successful in the SEC in his days at Georgia, obviously he's had experiences here at Auburn in playing (UGA playing here when VanGorder was a coach) here at Auburn and kind of seeing what Auburn's all about from a different perspective on the outside looking in, and we're blessed now because he's going to get a chance to do it from the inside looking out. I know you didn't come here to hear me, but I am blessed, I'm fired up, I'm really excited to introduce to you our new defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder."



Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder
Opening Comment
"Thank you, Gene. Good morning everyone. It truly is a real honor and privilege to walk through those doors and see y'all here and be a part of and start a new journey with Auburn. I'm very excited about this. Having competed (as a coach) here in the past and witnessed the Auburn family and the excitement that takes place here, I'm really looking forward to digging in and earning my way to be a part of Auburn's great traditions and be a part of all the great happenings that take place here at Auburn University. I want to thank President Gogue. I want to thank (Athletics Director) Jay Jacobs. I want to definitely thank Gene. The entire process has made me feel like this is a good decision because it's been so professionally done. Communication from the beginning, the discipline and organization that Gene brought to every conversation through the process really allowed me and (wife) Polly and my kids to feel comfortable with this move. We look forward to all the challenges here. We look forward to learning the Auburn ways and really digesting all the traditions. We look forward to meeting the people that have made the traditions great here, and I certainly hope that we will do everything to be a part of, improve and meet all the challenges that lie ahead of us. The one thing I would say to you is that we will bring that type of attitude, competition to improve and certainly energy to work every day in everything that we do here. I'm really proud, happy and again feel privileged to be a part of and start a new journey here at Auburn. It's great to be here."

On when Coach Chizik first contacted him about the job...
"I'm not going to really get into a timeline. I think the important thing that took place here is that everything was done with great integrity both with the Atlanta Falcons and with Auburn. We were up front through all communications. The Atlanta Falcons have been fantastic, and the four years with Atlanta have been absolutely incredible. Mr. (Arthur) Blank (Atlanta Falcons Owner), Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons General Manager) and Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons Head Coach) have been nothing but class acts through this whole process, and I've already mentioned the professionalism of Auburn. Timeline to me is not really as important to me in this whole thing as the comfort level by both the Atlanta Falcons organization and Auburn and how it's been done, and it's been done right."

On what type of defensive base he will run...
"I'm a 4-3 guy. Having said that, we consider ourselves basing off the 4-3, but multiple in its makeup I think. That's today's football. I think you have to be able to do that, but we'll base out of the 4-3."

On returning to coaching in college and leaving the NFL...
"It was a very difficult decision. I think as I look at our profession, there are certain places and certain ideas from a family standpoint that you think are special. Having competed (as a coach) at Auburn, I was here a couple of summers ago with my son, and certainly my trust in knowing Gene Chizik for a long time, Auburn kind of just perked my interest, so to speak, but we were slow and deliberate through the process. I just think right now for myself, my family, it offers a great opportunity, and we really want to be a part of tradition and be a part of the excitement and pageantry and incredible game day here. We're well aware of the Auburn family and the excitement that surrounds it. We hope we can make our way into that and be a major part of it."

On the similarities and differences between coaching at the NFL and collegiate levels...
"Well it's probably not as much as many people might think. I think there are particular guys in the NFL that you have to be a little bit careful with. Some of the differences are that many of them are married, and they are husbands and fathers of children. Some of the communication along those lines is a little bit different, but they still carry on the same kid-type manners that the college kids do. Having said that, the 18-year-old and the 23-year-old, they are finding themselves as young men, and you hope that you can help them along in respects to their journey in that particular growth. You have more of an influence and more of a conversation along those lines than you do at the NFL level, but when you start talking about X's and O's and standards and expectations with a group it is very similar and not as different as people might think."

On if he will coach the linebackers...
"We have talked a little bit about some of that, but Gene and I haven't etched anything out. We will continue to communicate. I think that Gene wants to go through an entire evaluation process together and kind of look at all of it and then make good and sound decisions from there."

On when he met Coach Chizik and how long they have known each other...
"I think that we may have met, and I know that we had conversation through mutual friends, and I might be wrong on the years because it seems like it was a long time ago. Somewhere around 1997, I left the University of Central Florida and Gene became the defensive coordinator there, and we had a number of mutual friends through that particular shared university, so to speak. We just started conversations through there and years later we were competing against each other in the SEC. It started a lot at the Broyles Award together. We flew back together from that particular Broyles Award setting out in Arkansas and had great conversation. We have dealt with some similar things in our growths in the profession and been able to bounce ideas and compare this and that with each other through the years, and it has been a real solid relationship."

On his impression of Auburn as a competitor and his impression now...
"My first impression was what a classy place. The first time I drove in here, the whole set up and I had heard about the Tiger Walk, and I remember the last time we played here it was Auburn's undefeated season (2004) with Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and (Jason) Campbell, that was one great time. I remember the electricity that day was just unbelievable. I think, again, the pageantry of the SEC and here at Auburn really being one of the special places was obvious as a competitive coach that time against Auburn. Like I said, I really look forward to the first time walking into Jordan-Hare and being a part of that and feeling it once again."

On what he wants out of the defense...
"I think that the things that are common to defense start with an incredible commitment to excellence, and we talk about effort to the football and our ability to run to the football. I think that effort really needs to stand out, so I think philosophically as Gene sets the table with that and then I carry that message to the guys, it has to be very clear that as a football team, this is the mission and the things that have to follow in making that mission work. That is the commitment part of it that is so crucial. The next thing that comes to me is execution. If you have the idea of extreme effort in what you are doing through a strong commitment, the game comes down to execution and your ability to execute. The pressures of the SEC based on environments and the teams that you are playing, the guys that can hold up under some of those pressures and execute effectively on game day usually are the teams that are going to win. I would say consistency in that particular area is a must if you really want to be good. The enthusiasm that the players carry into other performance is critical and to what degree they really believe in what is going on in respects to your mission as a football team."

On getting back into recruiting following his stint in the NFL...
"I'm really looking forward to that. I feel like as a father of five that I understand the 17, 18-year-old young man much better than I did seven or eight years ago. I have three in college right now as a matter of fact. Yeah, three at the same time. But, I think that I also understand that you have a responsibility in recruiting a young man that involves factual things, and I think Auburn has a lot of great things to present to a young man, and to me that's where I am. I look forward to being honest and upfront about the opportunity that a young man has here at Auburn and what we think we can do in terms of their development. The development part of it, which is so crucial, they don't really factor in a lot of times to their decision, but I think it's crucial, and I think I will be able to really sell on that particular area the idea we'll give them every chance to become the best they can be here at Auburn."

On if Coach Chizik had to deliver a sales pitch to him to get him to leave the NFL...
"No, he didn't have to do that. Again to me as I've said before, whether it's the NFL, whether it's college football, there are elite jobs. This is an elite job. This is an incredible place, and I get excited thinking I'm here with you today and I'm a part of it. I'm really looking forward to getting into it, so I think as Gene and I spoke, he could feel my enthusiasm for Auburn and my interest in being a part of a place that I think is really one of the special places to be a part of, whether it is as a student, whether it is as an athlete and certainly, I feel that way as a coach, so I think he could feel my enthusiasm and understanding of that and didn't really have to sell Auburn."

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