Mathlete Request on Al Borges

Submitted by CincyBlue on December 3rd, 2013 at 2:24 PM


I have a quick request if you have time. 

Al Borges has been the OC at 9 schools including Michigan.  My questions is:  How many wins does Al have against top ranked defenses? 

Here is his list of his OC jobs:

86-92 Portland State

93-94 Boise State

1995 Oregon

96-00 UCLA

2001 CAL

02-03 Indiana

04-07 Auburn

09-10 San Diego State

2011 -  Michigan

I would assume he didn't face a ton of great defenses at places like Portland, Boise or SDS.  

How does his offense preform against good and poor defenses?  Does he have a signature win? 

Does being an OC at 8 different schools (before Michigan) show experience or a pattern of failure?

I think this type of research should either validate our thinking that we need a new OC or help us get through the off season hoping the offense will be better with Big Al pulling the strings next year.

Thank you!






December 3rd, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

Brought all the same players over too, the ones used to his system.  Also, same defensive coordinator, not that something like that would matter to a win percentage.  Same schedules.  Same fanbase and expectations.  As a matter of fact, I believe that Ann Arbor and San Diego are the same geographically, as well.


December 3rd, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

I take it you are a Borges supporter?


People have made the argument that the number of stops in Borges' carreer is indicative of his inability to field good offenses.  OP mentions SDSU and Michigan separately and I point out that Borges made that move because of Hoke changing jobs and it should not be held against him. 


December 3rd, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

Ah.  I didn't get the context.  I wouldn't consider myself a supporter.  I'm not a detractor either, though.  I don't think the "Fire Borges" decision was as black and white as the outspoken majority here, but I certainly would not have lost any sleep if he was shown the door. 

My theory?  Borges did a lot of wonky shit this year.  Many speculate that it caused a lot of confusion and disarray on offense.  I think it was more of the opposite.  Borges realized that his line was more overmatched than any he's coached and tried to get cute in ways he was not comfortable.  He makes a delicious bread and butter sandwich.  As good as nearly anyone in the country.  Just don't try to get him out of his comfort zone, as his foie gras tastes like shit and still rushes for more yards than we did against Michigan State.

I'm more upset with player development than I am with on-field results.  But I'm willing to give him a pass until his players, you know, develop and stuff.


December 3rd, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

To the people who "wouldn't lose any sleep" if Borges was fired,

      Doesn't that indicate you should wanna fire him? Like if it wouldn't bother you one bit if the OC was fired, and this OC is making millions, he probably isn't pulling his weight. 

I understand the "well who do we get" argument. (Except I don't but on its face it makes sense).

It's one thing if the OC leaves, but firing him should have a defined feeling as a no or yes given the importance of the position and the money he is sucking up from our institution. 


Unless of course mediocrity and doing "meh" doesn't really bother you. 

Also note, I am a far more a decisive person than the average cat, I never waffle. 


December 3rd, 2013 at 11:37 PM ^

My view is that outside of a few truly great OCs, most are of roughly the same quality.

Those guys are almost impossible to hire as OCs because they are usually on their way to becoming HCs the minute their genius is recognized by other programs. You kind of have to hit on an unknown. This fan base hates unknowns.

Play calling and game planning will always be criticized because that's what fans do.


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:33 PM ^

That pretty much sums it up for me as well.

I don't think I would feel the same if not for the performance against Ohio this past Saturday. I've watched that game at least twice since then, and it leaves me feeling that there is an upside to everything. The glass half-full kind of feeling where you say "hey, we've recruited nearly a dozen quality OLs these past two years and they are actually learning a whole lot this year, and with a good off season and Spring ball they'll be a lot better come Appy State August 30 of next year." Never mind the fact that Ohio's defense basically was a sieve in that game... oh, that's a downer and leads to glass half-empty feelings, better forget about those.

In the end I think Borges has a lot of capability. I just can't tell if he applies it consistently or if he is overly cautious because of what he views as the limitations of his players. If they improve, and I cannot see how they will not, then we'll be better able to evaluate what we have.

I think another factor in looking at Borges' track record is how many times he moved on because of a head coaching change, and if possible how much if any he had to do with that. I remember someone on the blog pointing out recently that this had happened to him with several teams in the past.


December 3rd, 2013 at 5:18 PM ^

No, he left the year before. Tuberville (presumably) requested his resignation when the season ended and  immediately hired Tony Franklin from Troy. They won their bowl game, entered the next year ranked I think #11. There were grumbles when they beat Mississippi State 3-2 early the next year, the offense didn't improve much from there and Tuberville fired Franklin halfway through the season. He was gone himself at year's end, they finished 5-7.


December 3rd, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

While I think some of this has some merit, you also have to account for the ability of a school to recruit high-quality talent. In other words, a loss at a program like SDSU wouldn't be nearly as damning as a loss as Auburn's OC.

I don't quite know how you plan on accounting for talent deficiencies and/or the state of the program at the time Borges was OC. 



December 3rd, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

As a clarifying question, are we considering "top-ranked" to mean, for example, the upper third of Division I, or would you think it is more fair to show relative level of competition and do, say, the top 5 in a given conference (whichever one he was affliated with in a given year) as well as OOC teams in the top third? It doesn't have to be divided like that - I was just providing a random example of how it could be done. 

Also, I don't if wins and losses mean as much in such a comparison as yards per play, conversion success and a few other metrics. 


December 3rd, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

I'd also be interested in knowing how they did compared to expectations.  Beating a top 25 team when you are top 25 is not as impressive as beating top 25 as an unranked team, but if there's some way to determine if the team played beyond expectations that would be good to know.


December 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 PM ^

Why would you use wins and losses to assess an OC instead of some measure of offensive performance? He has no control over half of the team. Makes no sense unless you already know what the result it likely to be and you have an axe to grind, like trying to convince someone that Michigan's offense wasn't good in 2010 (huh?) or that Saturday's game against OSU wasn't a good performance even though it was the best offensive performance against them in a century.


December 3rd, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

"I would assume he didn't face a ton of great defenses at places like Portland, Boise or SDS."

Looking at the Massey database, in 2010 he faced the #5 defense (TCU) and the #8 defense (Missouri), in 2009 the #9 defense (TCU again). I'm not sure why that gets lumped with the FCS and D2 jobs at the beginning of his career.


December 3rd, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

Year 1 they lost to TCU 55-12. That wasn't a good team--they didn't beat anyone in the top 100--and it was pretty much par for the cours, the year before Hoke/Borges arrived they'd lost 41-7.

Year 2 they lost to Missouri 27-24 and lost to TCU 40-35. That was TCU's 13-0 team that won the Rose Bowl . Someone's probably about to point out that the 35 included a defensive TD and they got back into the game late. Still TCU had given up 23 points total in the six games prior, all conference games; 35 was a big number. The week before they had beaten the #5 team in the country 47-7 .

One thing seems consistent through Al's career: when he's overmatched like that, he goes for the big play. Against Missouri:

Ronnie Hillman 75 Yd Run (Abel Perez Kick)

Ronnie Hillman 93 Yd Run (Abel Perez Kick)

Against TCU:

Ryan Lindley pass complete to Vincent Brown for 49 yards to the TCU 1 for a 1ST down.

Ryan Lindley pass complete to Vincent Brown for 50 yards to the TCU 2, TCU penalty 1 yard Face Mask accepted for a 1ST down.

Ronnie Hillman rush for 21 yards to the SDSt 33 for a 1ST down.

Ryan Lindley pass complete to Vincent Brown for 33 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

Ryan Lindley pass complete to Vincent Brown for 35 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

That's 182 yards on those five plays. They only had 118 on the other 42 plays.


Gob Wilson

December 3rd, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

Data is from 15 years ago and I'm not sure about how the defenses ranked but as OC Borges at UCLA had six wins against teams ranked in top 25 in '97-'98.  One bowl win vs #20 Tex A&M and loss to #9 Wisc in Rose. The Bruins ranked 5th at end of season '97 and 8th EOS '98.


December 4th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

UCLA is particularly difficult to judge, however.

The head coach of those teams was Bob Toledo, who had spent 10 years as an OC for Oregon and Texas A&M, and two years as the OC of UCLA before he got promoted to head coach and brought Al Borges aboard.

Plus, as good as 97 and 98 were, 99 and 00 were just as bad, and UCLA actually showed improvement after Borges left, and the 2001 Cal team he coached was a disaster.

So ultimately, there really is no telling what effect he had on UCLA was.  Even if Toledo did give him a lot of control over the offense, the results were such a roller coaster that I don't know what to make of them.


December 3rd, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

...maybe 52-28 at Arizona in '98? That was Arizona's only loss and they only gave up 15 per game the rest of the schedule.

That season's a pretty good example of what I meant above. UCLA scored a crapload of points, were never held under 28 and scored over 40 on three different ranked teams. But the defense wasn't very good and after a 10-0 start they lost games at the end of the year by 49-45 to Miami and 38-31 to Wisconsin in the Rose.

Or the flipside--Auburn beat LSU 10-9 in '04. Does he get credit for that?


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:42 PM ^

It might be good to see how Michigan has done vs. top defenses since 2000 or something like that.  I don't think the previous regimes have done all that well against top defenses, either.


December 3rd, 2013 at 4:51 PM ^

He was fired at California, and Auburn. Oregon, UCLA, and Indiana are the three schools in major conferences that he didn't get fired from, and he was at those three schools a combined 8 years.


December 3rd, 2013 at 8:40 PM ^

Can you also do a metric that explains why Borges waited until the last game of the season to deploy any of the play counters to what he'd run all season.