VanGorder to be Falcons' linebackers coach

Brian VanGorder resigned as coach at Division I-AA Georgia Southern on Tuesday after only one season to become linebackers coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

VanGorder, a former defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, struggled in his only season with the Eagles. Georgia Southern went 3-8, 2-5 in the Southern Conference, this past season. He attempted to install a passing offense after the Eagles used a run-based option offense for most of the last two decades.

"I was extremely disappointed when Coach VanGorder told me the
news," athletic director Sam Baker said at an evening news
conference, which VanGorder didn't attend. "We anticipated the
transition would be difficult, but last year we made very visible
progress within our program in respect to academics, discipline and
facility improvements."

VanGorder worked as Georgia's defensive coordinator for four seasons, winning the Frank Broyles Award as college football's top assistant in 2003. He left Georgia after the 2004 season and was the Jacksonville Jaguars' linebackers coach in 2005.

VanGorder was coach at Wayne State University in Michigan, his alma mater, from 1992-94. He also worked as an assistant at Central Florida, Central Michigan and Western Illinois.

Georgia Southern was long considered among the premier I-AA programs, winning six national championships, the last one under current Navy coach Paul Johnson in 2000.

The Eagles are expected to begin their search for VanGorder's replacement immediately. Georgia Tech defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Giff Smith, a 1991 Georgia Southern graduate, might be among the top candidates. Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall, a former Eagles assistant from 1981-84, also might be targeted.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.