chance of bowl: 13.6%
The firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges obviously shook things up among Michigan fans as Twitter and MGoBlog almost exploded once the news dropped. Then all that happened was a pluck-job of Alabama’s offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Again, the Michigan universe went into a frenzy. How is all of this affecting recruits? I was able to touch base with a few just to get an idea of how the decision is sitting with people who will and might wear the Maize and Blue.
2014 TE commit Ian Bunting
The Fire: Coach Borges did help recruit me so it’s obviously not the ideal situation but I trust that the staff is only making decisions that are in the best interest of the team. I’m still set on Michigan though! I have no idea who the replacement could or should be. Someone who likes to pass a lot, especially to the tight ends. Maybe the New England Patriots OC? (Laughs)
The Hire: It’s awesome! The OC from Bama? It’s sweet. It’s definitely encouraging. I just hope he likes throwing to his tight ends. I do know that he likes winning.
2014 RB offeree Vic Enwere
The Fire: Coach Borges getting fired changes things for me a little bit. It’s just going to take more time now to understand the new offensive approach. Coach Borges and I had a great talk when I went up there and a little bit before that too. We haven’t really talked since my last visit. I’m not sure if the words “hurt Michigan’s chances” are accurate but it does make it a bit tougher. Uncertainty just makes it tough.
The Hire: I honestly never heard his name before but I am familiar with his style. Being the offensive coordinator from Alabama definitely means something though.
2015 OL offeree Sterling Jenkins
The Fire: I definitely respect Coach Borges as a person but I hope I get to meet the new OC and I hope no one else from the staff goes. On my visit I mostly talked to Coach Borges and Coach Funk so we for sure had a relationship. Him being fired won’t really affect me. That has been happening all over the country. Michigan won’t hire someone who’s not up for the job. I think they’ll be okay, if not better from this move.
The Hire: I am looking forward to meeting him. He definitely has a good track record coming from Bama.
2015 WR offeree Christian Kirk
The Fire: I never got a chance to talk to Coach Borges during the bowl practice so I don’t really have a thought on him being fired. It doesn’t change anything for me in regards to Michigan.
The Hire: Interesting! We will see what he brings to Michigan! It helps Michigan’s case in my mind because I’m interested to see if he can turn it around. If he decides to come in contact with me it definitely helps Michigan’s chances.
2015 QB offeree David Sills:
The Fire: I’ve actually never talked to Coach Borges but I heard he was a great coach. He wasn’t personally involved with me and my offer. I’m not sure if I’m going to visit Michigan or not. Having two teammates up there means Michigan will always be an option. Right now though I am still with USC.
The Hire: I’m sure he will do great at Michigan. Michigan has always been attractive to me and always will be, so no real change.
2015 QB target Jimmy Fitzgerald:
The Fire: I just heard about Coach Borges being fired. I haven’t ever talked to him too much, Coach Mallory is my main contact. It doesn’t really change my view on Michigan. It’s not exactly the news I’d like to hear but Michigan is still a very attractive school both academically and athletically.
The Hire: That’s big time!
2015 QB target Kyle Kearns:
The Fire: Wow, I didn’t know anything about Coach Borges getting fired. I probably talked to him maybe 2 or more weeks ago. I’m still very interested in Michigan though, I’ll make sure to talk Coach Ferrigno about it the next time we talk.
The Hire: It’s awesome. I am really good friends with Coach Nuss. I have been in contact with him since last year.
2015 QB target Riley Neal:
The Fire: I had no idea they were thinking about firing him. I talked to Coach Borges maybe a week or two ago, but it’s crazy that he’s fired. Him getting fired doesn’t really change my view on Michigan. I liked Coach Borges but I still like the program they have at Michigan. I’m interested to see who they hire. I plan on calling one of the GA’s here soon to see if he knows anything.
The Hire: I think it’s a good hire for them. It should help Michigan in my eyes because he has won national championships and that’s always the goal so he brings that experience in with him.
2015 QB target Nick Johns:
The Fire: I heard about Coach Borges getting fired while I was at school. Now I’ll just wait and see who they hire. It doesn’t change anything for me right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked with Coach Borges. I kind of assumed he might be let go since he stopped talking to me. Hopefully Michigan will hire someone good.
The Hire: That’s a great move of power on Michigan’s part. It absolutely helps their cause in my eyes.
2015 QB target Alex Malzone:
The Fire: Man, I had no idea Coach Borges would be fired. I have always stayed in touch with Dan Ifft and then Coach Singletary a little bit so we’ll see who is brought in next. Obviously I’ve started to build a relationship with Coach Borges but it’s still Michigan football and they will bring in the right guy. I haven’t talked to Coach Borges since my Ohio State visit. I’m anxious to see who they hire.
The Hire: It’s a great hire, I’m excited about it. I’ve always been high on Michigan but it is a boost in my interest. I plan on calling Coach Ifft today to see what’s going on.
2015 QB target Zach Gentry
The Hire: (I didn’t hear back from Zach until news had surfaced that Nussmeier would be the replacement so we discussed only that) I think it’s a really solid hire! He balances the running and passing game well and he makes the system easy on the quarterback. I’d say it definitely helps Michigan in my eyes. I think it’s important that they have a really balanced attack. they seem to have the right players coming in that can help plus solid returning offensive guys. I’m still highly interested in Michigan. Coaching changes are going to happen everywhere. It doesn’t take anything away from Michigan and their tradition. I think I’ll probably try to reach out and get in touch with Coach Nussmeier and get established with him.
When you have success at the level that Alabama has, it carries a lot of weight and the reactions from commits and targets is clear evidence of that. The hiring of Nussmeier has already sent a shot of rejuvenation into the Michigan fanbase as well as potential Michigan players.
It is going to be really interesting to see how this hire affects recruiting as well. I’m very curious to see how the 2015 quarterback situation shakes out now, as Borges sort of ran the show on that evaluation. #1 2015 QB Ricky Town was recruited to Alabama by Nussmeier and while I don’t see him bailing on Bama, I’m sure Nuss will get in touch with him. Intrigue all around with a splash hire like this.
Sam Webb is a connected person, and it appears that the Michigan OC choice is a barely-hidden secret amongst the connected, so when he posts an article titled
Michigan's Ideal Candidate
With a picture of Doug Nussmeier and long discussion of Doug Nussmeier, who you'd think would be untouchable at Alabama, this is… unlikely to be a guess. And since it's followed quickly by Bruce Feldman confirming, it seems to be done. Informative update to follow.
INFORMATIVE UPDATE. So who is this dude? He started his coaching career in the CFL with a couple of years as a QB coach, then moved on to Michigan State in the same capacity for three years (Jeff Smoker as a senior and then two years of Drew Stanton), then the Rams for two years. Marc Bulger was an All-Pro in year 1, which was an 8-8 season, and then the Rams went 3-13 and everyone got fired.
Nussmeier landed at Fresno State as OC for one season, was immediately hired away by Washington, and after three years was hired by Saban. His numbers as an offensive coordinator:
|2008||Fresno State||56%||5||7.2||5.9 (28th)||387 (43rd)||59th|
|2009||Washington||49%||4.3||7.1||5.7 (48th)||376 (62nd)||41st|
|2010||Washington||56%||4.7||6.6||5.5 (67th)||362 (76th)||63rd|
|2011||Washington||53%||4.4||8.2||6.2 (24th)||410 (38th)||24th|
|2012||Alabama||63%||5.6||9.3||7.0 (5th)||446 (31st)||5th|
|2013||Alabama||56%||5.8||8.8||7.2 (5th)||454 (33rd)||9th|
It should be noted that the Washington job was massive reclamation project after Ty Willingham cratered the Huskies to 0-12. The year before Nussmeier showed up the Huskies were 118th of 120 in total yardage at 263, and their other stats were basically the same. With Jake Locker, Nussmeier popped the Huskies up to average and when Keith Price took over in 2011 they were legit. The caveat there is that Steve Sarkisian, an offensive guy, was his head coach.
Then he was hired by Alabama and everything got very shiny indeed. However, it is Alabama, and make no mistake: Nussmeier was not some pirate coup with Alabama desperately defending as Michigan thrusted and parried. Alabama boards have been buzzing for weeks about who their new OC would be. Saban told Nussmeier to look around for a nice landing spot and Michigan provided one. For whatever reason, Nussmeier was just not process-y enough for Dear Robot.
Nussmeier's got a pretty good resume both as an OC and a QB coach, what with Smoker/Stanton/Bulger/Price/Locker/McCarron on his resume, and quickly climbed the ladder. He's got a good rep as a recruiter and at 43 is relatively young for a BCS offensive coordinator; his Washington offenses were spread/pro mish-mash amalgams and then he seemed to do just fine with Alabama's pro-style attack. It's possible Michigan was going to ride with Borges for another year before the rarest commodity of all appeared: a proven college offensive coordinator with pro-style genes.
NOPE. / Please!
UPDATE: Kirk Herbstreit says it is a current college OC.
I'm going to try to keep this realistic, which means Oregon OC Scott Frost is out, RichRod OC Calvin Magee is out, and the two guys who have been in Manhattan, Kansas for 16 and 17 years as co-OCs are out. This puts me one step ahead of Coaching Scoop, which throws out Lane Kiffin as a name to watch.
The question is: how much control will Hoke cede and how married is he to manball? His coaching history suggests he's a "whatever works" guy, running a MAC-standard passing spread during his breakout year with Nate Davis and hiring Rocky Long to run the dreaded 3-3-5 at San Diego State. The fact that This Is Michigan seems to have given him the impression that he has to run Carr's mid-nineties offense. Has this season disabused him of that notion? Is he willing to hand the keys over to a proven offensive mind and say "go get it," even if it looks funky and does not abide by the Queensbury rules?
I don't know.
The problem with assuming that Hoke will look for a "pro style" coordinator is that they are increasingly hard to find. Looking at the top teams in yards per play this year is futile since they consist of guys Michigan cannot get to make a lateral move (OCs at Alabama, LSU, FSU, and Georgia aren't moving) or run offenses that would require a major philosophical shift(Oregon, Baylor, A&M, Auburn, Indiana) even if Michigan could hypothetically grab their OC. If we are sticking to manball, the field quickly narrows, leaving Michigan looking at candidates who are… uh… well, they're not slam dunks.
Current D-I coordinators who seem like they might fit are limited. Two that seem plausible:
Jim Chaney, OC, Arkansas. Chaney's been around the block, operating both Purdue's passing spread under Drew Brees and Tennessee's pro-style attack with Tyler "The" Bray. He just got hired at Arkansas by Bret Bielema and while Arkansas was in no way good, it is impressive that the Razorbacks had two 900 yard rushers and finished in the top 20 in YPC despite having a QB who completed fewer than half his passes for a Sheridan-like 6.0 YPC. Tennessee's offenses with Chaney were up and down; he did finish 2012 with the #19 YPP offense despite the turbulence at the end of the Dooley era.
Chaney's been around the block and has coordinated both spread and pro-style attacks; he knows the Big Ten from nine years as Purdue's OC.
Matt Canada, OC, NC State. Was Indiana's OC from 2007 to 2010, when Bill Lynch was swept out. Then started a Loeffler-like odyssey, visiting Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and NC State for one year stints. None of his stops have been that successful save the one year at Northern Illinois, but did blow up at Bielema prior to last year's Big Ten Championship game, a 70-31 explosion against Nebraska. Likes futzin' and hoodaddery, in a Fritz Crisler sort of way.
Neither of these guys do much for me, and often the smart answer is to dip down to lower levels and pick off the guys killing it down there. Oklahoma State keeps losing offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator to head coaching jobs, and the last time Mike Gundy had to pick a guy he went over to the NCAA's website and picked off the guy at the head of D-II stats. That worked out fairly well.
With the kind of money Michigan was throwing at Borges they might not have to look at lower-level OCs, they can take a shot at…
Rob Ambrose, HC, Towson. You may remember Towson as the team that had an easier time against UConn than Michigan did, or from that time their basketball team played Michigan and was just unbelievably bad. Towson ended up in the FCS national title game against North Dakota State, and that is an amazing accomplishment for a program that almost ended in 1990. Ambrose was Towson's OC for a while before moving into the head job; he is a former quarterback who coaches that position but has flexibility:
Combs said many former quarterbacks who become offensive coordinators or head coaches often stick with pass-heavy offenses regardless of personnel.
Not Ambrose, Combs said.
With Ambrose as offensive coordinator in 1999, the Tigers thrived behind quarterback Joe Lee’s school-record 4,168 passing yards. The following season, Towson built its offense around running back Noah Reed, who rushed for a Patriot League-record 1,422 yards.
After a rough start, Towson's gone 9-3, 7-4, and 13-3, and Ambrose has heard of Michigan:
For Towson, winning a national championship means making history, and that’s something Rob Ambrose plays up when he talks to recruits.
“You can go to Michigan and be on Page 7,000 of their history book or you can come here and write it,’’ he said.
The article describes battles won to get coaches' cell phones paid for by the school, so I don't think the demotion in rank is going to bother Ambrose, hypothetically.
Bob Stitt, HC, Colorado School Of Mines. Stitt got on everyone's radar after Dana Holgorsen shredded Clemson with a play Stitt gave him, and his work at CSM has been impressive over a long duration. Hoke would have to give him the keys entirely…
Stitt says he'd be willing to move up as an offensive coordinator, but only if the head coach would give him total offensive control. It's not difficult to see why he's so well-regarded in coaching circles, especially by those who run wide-open offenses. At 6-3, Stitt is closing in on his 11th winning season in 13 years. In all but a few of those years, the Orediggers, who play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, have ranked among the top-10 in Div. II in passing offense.
…but this is a guy widely known for not wearing a headset for most of the game, so… yeah. That's implied. In terms of consistent, long-term resume and success at a school with zero recruiting advantages(Mines consists of 5200 engineers), Stitt is tough to beat.
Troy Rothenbuhler, OC, Findlay. Three year record as OC with D-II Oilers is impressive. First year featured a bounce up from under 250 yards a game to nearly 400; year two was 437 yards a game, and year three saw Findlay crack 500. They do run a spread, but their plays per game of 75 is not super fast. Rushed for almost 2900 yards this year at 5.5 a pop. Is an OSU grad, with whom Michigan has done well with in the past.
Phil Longo, OC, Slippery Rock. Yeah, seriously. The main issue here is that he's a no-huddle Air Raid guy, but hear me out: He's in his third year at Slippery Rock, finding plenty of success, and spent two years at SIU in which the Salukies went 20-5. One year he lost his QB midyear and went from passing-oriented to spread 'n' shred. Kind of looks like Brock Lesnar, too.
The other option is to look up at NFL types. When not mentioning Lane Kiffin, Football Scoop throws out three NFL position coaches that induce varying levels of depression in the author:
Mike Groh, WR, Chicago Bears. The Jay Paterno of Virginia football under Al Groh. Was OC for three years at end of Groh tenure. In 2008, Virginia was 102nd in YPP, in 2007 they were 105th. CFB Stats does not have 2006, but I think the point is made. Groh's resume is terrible. DEPRESSION LEVEL: immense.
John McNulty, QB, Arizona Cardinals. A grad assistant at Michigan in the early 90s and has one year as an OC to his name, that in 2008 at Rutgers. Rutgers was good that year (20th in YPP) and he is a QB coach in the NFL. Track record very thin. DEPRESSION LEVEL: moderate.
Randy Fitchner, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers. Another guy who started as a grad assistant at Michigan, Fitchner in the mid-80s. He was a college OC for a decade at Arkansas State and Memphis, where he ran spread offenses rather effectively. This was the DeAngelo Williams era at Memphis, not the incredibly depressing stuff since. DEPRESSION LEVEL: minimal.
…and now Sam Webb's hinting strongly($) that the announcement will come tomorrow and crosses off Kiffin, Mazzone, and a few other possibilities that no one thought were particularly serious, so we won't have to wait long. To me this means none of these guys are particularly likely unless Hoke's been doing groundwork completely out of the public eye since AFAIK none of them have Hoke ties. I figured Michigan would vet and interview candidates at the big AFCA coaching hoo-haw this week; apparently not.
Per the Athletic Department, offensive coordinator Al Borges has been fired. Here's the entirety of the press release:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke announced today (Wednesday, Jan. 8) that offensive coordinator Al Borges will not be retained for the 2014 season.
"Decisions like these are never easy," said Hoke. "I have a great amount of respect for Al as a football coach and, more importantly, as a person. I appreciate everything he has done for Michigan Football for the past three seasons."
Prior to joining U-M in 2011, Borges was a member of Hoke's staff at San Diego State in 2009 and '10.
The Wolverines will begin spring practice on Feb. 25 and finish with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 5, at Michigan Stadium.
The fallout will be covered in exhaustive detail in the coming days. One interesting candidate—coincidentally, from Borges' former school—is rumored to have been contacted by Brady Hoke regarding the now-open position, according to coachingsearch.com:
A source tells me that Brady Hoke has reached out to UCLA offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Noel Mazzone and at least one NFL assistant, though Mazzone isn't likely to leave for Ann Arbor.
Mazzone runs an "uptempo no-huddle spread," according to Chris Brown (Smart Football); even if he's not interested in the job, moving in that direction would certainly please the people who write for this here blog. As for recruiting, it's unlikely the class of 2014 will be affected much, if at all, and there's plenty of time to make up any lost ground in the 2015 class. Again, we'll have much, much more on this in the coming days.
Right? (No not really)
I could have asked this when 4th and Long came out, or that time when a recruit gushed about Alabama's honesty and academics, or countless other recent days when the rusty nail of the current competitive atmosphere and my alma mater's place in it took another hammer blow.
"Youngstown Boys" finally inspired this question when I caught myself about to tweet something along the lines of "Ohio State is one of college football's most notorious bad-guys..." (inference that Michigan is a "good guy" meant). And I caught myself, because absent the rivalry and unenforced arbitrary rules by the feckless NCAA, what's so "evil" about a guy hawking a piece of memorabilia he was given for throwing passes over JT Floyd's head?
Course then we all went on vacation, but a few days after the antithesis of college athletics' weird version of morality won the last BCS title to end the long streak of the antithetical conference, so might as well get this out there:
Do you believe it's fair to characterize some programs as "good" or "evil" relative to their peers? What standards do you judge that on? Which schools are top- or bottom-five at this intercollegiate athletic morality stuff? Where's Michigan?
Brian: This has gotten considerably more difficult as coaching salaries have spiraled out of control and non-revenue sports have gotten ever more palatial palaces for 200-300 people to observe them in. Literally every move in the past 15 years of college football has been an "I'ma get mine" decision from the university presidents on down save some measures from the NCAA like the APR, so it's hard to get on schools that are obviously paying kids like Clemson and Ole Miss like you used to, because subverting an increasingly dishonorable system is not the same thing as the Pony Express was.
1. "Don't post this to Twitter".
2. "Lol so little!".
3. "Why are we even pretending?"
I do still get irritated because this is not 'Nam, there are rules, and vigilante justice is still, like, not legal either. It's frustrating to be a fan of a team that is pretty much on the up-and-up--the NCAA came in with the Rich Rod allegations and came back with penny-ante bullshit--that happens to pretty much suck and watch LaQuon Treadwell do LaQuon Treadwell things. This is the reason all Michigan fans should be selfishly interested in loosening up compensation rules for athletes: Michigan has money, but can't use it to make the revenue sports good. If they could...
Anyway, the true bad guys these days are the ones who take in anyone who can spell their name in three tries and shuffle them through garbage classes they barely have to attend and then spit them out the other end, helpless once their body doesn't make them money. Who are those people? To some extent, everyone, for the same reason seven-foot-tall guys don't shoot free throws that well: they are on the court because of things other than their free throw shooting. A lot of athletes get to college totally unprepared to be at said college, and it is probably better for them to have a shot at fame and a pro career than to toil away at a JUCO anonymously. But some schools are willing to do whatever to keep guys eligible. I don't really know who other than North Carolina, and even that case is more about subverting individual professors who lack oversight than a university-wide conspiracy.
So I've pretty much given up on good and evil with the following exceptions:
[Annoying, probably financially motivated cliffhanger jump goes here]
In the late stages of last week's narrow victory over Minnesota, John Beilein drew up a beautiful post-timeout play that culminated with Jon Horford dunking over three Gophers (capital 'G', of course, or that's a far less impressive feat):
Pretty cool dunk, right? After the jump, check out several more enjoyable GIFs from the last two game--WAIT, HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.
That white-haired Minnesota fan has seen kingdoms rise and fall, winters that lasted a generation, and the White Walkers descend upon
Westeros Minneapolis, but this she cannot bear to witness. Winter is coming—nay, winter has arrived—and this lady knows it.
Don't ever say a Spartan never did anything for you.
[After THE JUMP, Mitch McGary stays fresh to death, Richard Pitino is a strange fellow, Zak Irvin catches fire, Northwestern plays "defense," and dunks on dunks on dunks.]