COLUMBIA -- Brian VanGorder won't follow the same example as his former boss, Bobby Petrino.
VanGorder accepted the open defensive coordinator post at South Carolina on Wednesday and will report to Columbia in January, as soon as his season with the Atlanta Falcons is over. USC coach Steve Spurrier announced the hire at 1 p.m., scarcely 24 hours after he lured new special teams coach Ray Rychleski away from Maryland.
"He's a quality guy with a lot of experience," Spurrier said of VanGorder, "and I really think he's going to do a super job here, I really do."
The Falcons, who lost Petrino when he abruptly bolted for the Arkansas head coaching job a week ago, have been going through a tumultuous stretch. VanGorder's hiring at USC is another defection.
VanGorder, 48, handled the Falcons' linebackers this season and has coordinated defense at Central Michigan, Western Illinois and Georgia. It was with the Bulldogs where he made his biggest splash, guiding his last three teams (2002-04) to top-10 finishes in total defense.
"I'm really, really looking forward to coming to South Carolina," VanGorder said. "I'm most excited I'm going to be able to work with coach Spurrier."
VanGorder moved on to the NFL in 2005, coaching Jacksonville's linebackers before moving to a head coaching spot at Georgia Southern. He served 2006 with the Eagles before returning to the NFL with the Falcons.
He takes over for Tyrone Nix, who took the defensive coordinator spot at Ole Miss last week. Under Nix, the Gamecocks were gashed for an SEC-worst 209.3 rushing yards per game last season.
"Hopefully, we'll be a faster-playing and more physical team, and a team that plays its assignments a lot better," Spurrier said. "When stuff's not working all that great, change is hopefully very good."
VanGorder agreed to a three-year deal and Rychleski to a two-year contract, according to Spurrier. VanGorder's hiring completed a process where Spurrier talked to "four to five guys," including Virginia Tech's Bud Foster and Mississippi State's Ellis Johnson.
"I think that we're going to play fast," VanGorder said. "Allow guys to unwind, to play aggressive. I expect great effort on every play and I'm an emotional coach -- I like my defense to play with emotion."
With VanGorder and Rychleski in place, the Gamecocks' coaching staff was one over the NCAA-mandated limit for assistants. Spurrier also announced that tight ends coach/co-special teams coordinator Fred Chatham wasn't being retained, bringing the staff back to the limit.
"Coach Chatham hopefully will get a chance to hook back on with Duke," Spurrier said. Chatham served at Duke from 1989-2005 before coming to USC.
VanGorder will also handle the Gamecocks' linebackers, which shuffled the responsibilities of assistant Shane Beamer. Beamer, hired last year as outside linebackers coach/co-special teams coordinator, will move to co-secondary coach along with assistant head coach Ron Cooper.
"A new way of doing your defensive coaches which I think is very good is that one coach takes the safeties and one takes the corners," Spurrier said. "Realistically, you play with five or six defensive backs so often."
The rest of USC's assistants' duties remain the same -- Spurrier (head coach/offensive coordinator), Robert Gillespie (running backs), John Hunt (offensive line), Brad Lawing (defensive line), David Reaves (quarterbacks/recruiting coordinator) and Steve Spurrier Jr. (wide receivers). Spurrier said he didn't expect any more changes, although there's always some movement across the sport once the February coaches' convention occurs.
If that happens, Spurrier will act, but seemed confident his staff would remain the same for next season.
"I don't know if some guys will get a little bit better opportunity," Spurrier said. "Right now I don't anticipate any of our guys leaving."