Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will return to the NFL after a one-year stint on the Plains, with the New York Jets announcing VanGorder as their new linebackers coach Thursday.
Auburn was ranked 81st in total defense last year, plagued by inconsistency and victimized by the likes of Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. VanGorder, whose son Mack remains a walk-on for the Tigers, was let go along with the rest of Auburn’s coaching staff following a 3-9 season.
VanGorder was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebackers coach in 2005, and spent five years with the Atlanta Falcons from 2007-11, the last four as defensive coordinator. VanGorder signed a deal last year worth $850,000 annually, and is still owed that amount from Auburn less whatever he makes with the Jets until June 30, 2014 (the expiration of his Auburn contract.)
Rex Ryan is entering his fifth season as the Jets’ head coach, and has overseen four straight years of a top-ten total defense in the NFL – though New York has gone from first to third to fifth to eighth subsequently the past four seasons.
Only head coach Gene Chizik and assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor remain unemployed since being dismissed by Auburn Nov. 25. Both are expected to take the season off from coaching.
Moving on from last fall’s staff are offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes (now at Virginia Tech), running backs coach Curtis Luper (TCU), tight ends and special teams coach Jay Boulware (Wisconsin), defensive line coach Mike Pelton (Georgia Tech), linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen and secondary coach Willie Martinez (Tennessee).
Women’s basketball great Becky Jackson’s number to be retired
Last month, Auburn Arena saw Mike Mitchell’s name and number added to the rafters among the men’s basketball program legends.
Since then, there’s been a black curtain draped on the opposite side of the arena, covering an unknown name.
Auburn made that name known Thursday. Becky Jackson, who left Auburn as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in women’s basketball history, will take her rightful place in the Ring of Honor when her No. 34 jersey is retired in a Feb. 17 ceremony, before the Tigers take on Alabama.
A 6-foot-2 center, Jackson was all-SEC for four years from 1980-84, finishing her illustrious career with 2,068 points and 1,118 rebounds. She was an American Women’s Sports Foundation All-American in 1981 and 1983, and MVP of the 1983 SEC tournament. Only DeWanna Bonner has surpassed her scoring, and Jackson remains the Tigers’ top rebounder.
No. 21 Carolyn Jones, No. 25 Ruthie Bolton and No. 50 Vicki Orr will be joined by Jackson’s company in the north side of Auburn Arena, opposite the six men’s names and numbers.
The Alabama game is also the annual “Pink Zone” game to promote breast cancer awareness. Visit AUBTIX.com or call 1-855-AUB-2010 for tickets.