VanGorder, who served four years as Georgia's defensive coordinator before leaving after the 2004 season, took over in Statesboro to great expectations after the Eagles fired Mike Sewak.
But Georgia Southern, a perennial power in NCAA Division I-AA, slumped to 3-8 for its first losing season since 1996. There also were indications that VanGorder's family never adjusted to the small-town atmosphere.
VanGorder left Georgia to become linebackers coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, staying with the NFL team just one season before taking over at Georgia Southern.
Sewak was fired after the Eagles were eliminated in the opening round of the I-AA playoffs for the second consecutive year. That wasn't acceptable at a school that has won six I-AA championships.
VanGorder signaled a new era when he ditched the run-oriented triple option the Eagles had used with great success over the years. He wanted the offense to rely more on the passing game, but the move failed miserably. Georgia Southern lost several close games, with six defeats by a total of 21 points.
VanGorder had more success at Georgia, where he won the 2003 Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top college assistant.