South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is going back to his roots to help resuscitate a Gamecocks defense that finished near the bottom of the SEC in 2014 in nearly every category.
Spurrier has reached an agreement with Jon Hoke, the last defensive coordinator he worked with when he was at Florida, to join the Gamecocks' staff.
The move was approved by university trustees Monday.
Hoke will oversee a South Carolina defense that plummeted to 92nd nationally in total defense (432.7 YPG) and 89th in scoring defense (30.4 PPG). In conference games, the Gamecocks finished next to last in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 36.8 points per game.
Hoke, 58, has been an NFL assistant since 2002, most recently the defensive backs coach with the Chicago Bears. He was Spurrier's defensive coordinator at Florida from 1999 through 2001, replacing Bob Stoops when he left for Oklahoma.
Spurrier has been interested in bringing Hoke aboard ever since the season ended, and Hoke turned down a handful of NFL opportunities to rejoin Spurrier in the college game.
Sources told ESPN.com that Hoke's salary will be somewhere in the $750,000 range annually.
To make room for Hoke, Spurrier will have to restructure his defensive staff. At least one coach may be moved to an administrative role. Lorenzo Ward just finished his third season as South Carolina's defensive coordinator. He has been on the Gamecocks' staff for six seasons and previously worked under Ellis Johnson before taking over the defensive reins in 2012, when Johnson left for the Southern Miss head-coaching job.
In Ward's first two seasons overseeing the defense, South Carolina finished in the top 20 nationally both years in scoring defense and total defense, but the Gamecocks struggled mightily on that side of the ball this season and gave up more than 30 points in six of 13 games. They lost three games this season in which they blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter.
Spurrier told ESPN.com last month that he was considering making changes to his staff but added that nothing would happen until after signing day.
"If I need to add a guy or two to the staff, I'll do it," Spurrier said in January. "There's still plenty of time to do that. Our coaches all know that. Our fans know that. When the time appears to be right and I think we can bring a coach in here that can really help us, then I need to do that. That's my job."
Hoke was on the Houston Texans' staff as secondary coach from 2002 through 2008 before joining the Bears in 2009 under then-head coach Lovie Smith.
This isn't the first time Spurrier has attempted to reconnect with Hoke in the college game. Spurrier talked to Hoke about being the defensive coordinator in 2005 when Spurrier took the South Carolina head-coaching job and again in 2008 when Spurrier hired Brian VanGorder (who left three weeks later to take the Atlanta Falcons' defensive coordinator job) and then Johnson.
Hoke, the older brother of former Michigan coach Brady Hoke, played in the NFL for one season with the Bears when Buddy Ryan was defensive coordinator. He also worked under Dom Capers with the Texans, so Hoke has experience with multiple defensive fronts and an array of zone blitzes.