Notre Dame has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after a 1-3 start, replacing him with defensive analyst Greg Hudson.
“This is a difficult decision,” head coach Brian Kelly said 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 is 1-5 in its past six games dating back to last season, having given up 35 or more points in all five losses. The tipping point came Saturday in a 38-35 home loss to Duke, with segments of the Notre Dame Stadium crowd chanting during the game for VanGorder to be fired.
The move marks a sharp turn for Kelly, who had defended VanGorder, the third-year coordinator, every step of the way when questioned.
Hudson had joined the Irish defensive staff in June and has previously served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, in addition to being assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Florida State.
“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,” Hudson said in a release. “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.”
Notre Dame next plays Saturday against Syracuse in East Rutherford, New Jersey.