Michigan’s November collapse is well documented. After entering the month competing for the Big Ten championship, things began badly with an embarrassing loss to in-state rival Michigan State and ended with a heartbreaking one-point loss to archrival Ohio State. Michigan sputtered to a 1-4 record, a miracle field goal versus Northwestern away from losing every game.
Both the offense and defense failed equally, bringing about the first major crisis of Brady Hoke’s tenure as head coach. When Hoke was hired, he was given latitude to hire top coordinators to help rebuild the program. USA Today recently published the salaries of NCAA assistant coaches. How do Michigan’s coaches compare to other programs?
|Top 10 Paid NCAA Football Assistant Coaches|
|School||2013 Rank||Conf||Coach||Specialty||Spc/Rank||Total Pay|
|Michigan||N/A||Big Ten||Greg Mattison||Defense||38||$851K|
|Michigan||N/A||Big Ten||Al Borges||Offense||83||$709K|
|Texas A&M||21||SEC||Mark Snyder||Defense||105||$708K|
|USA Today, NCAA|
In comparison with other assistants, Mattison and Borges join Justin Wilcox (Washington) as the only three coaches in the top 10 whose teams are not nationally ranked. Michigan is the only team to have two assistants with salaries in the top 10.
Borges also joins Ellis Johnson (Auburn) and Mark Snyder (Texas A&M) as coaches whose units are statistically near the bottom of NCAA team rankings. Johnson is bailed out by Auburn’s high national ranking (No. 2) while Snyder and Texas A&M are a respectable No. 21. Borges has the misfortune of coaching a team that fell out of the national rankings and is in charge of a unit that is among the worst in the nation.
Offensive Coordinator Al Borges
Borges has been the focal point of criticism since he transformed Denard Robinson from Heisman hopeful to a glorified running back last season. Borges cashed in after Brady Hoke’s first season (11-2, 6-2 Big Ten, BCS Sugar Bowl), negotiating an 86 percent raise as reported by Kyle Meinke of The Ann Arbor News.
The bump in salary was questionable; the offense had never been a problem under the previous regime, and Borges inherited Robinson and a competent offensive line anchored by center David Molk.
Indeed, as Borges began to introduce more of his offensive package, the offense began to struggle to score points. Problems came to a head this season as the Michigan offense struggled to protect quarterback Devin Gardner and continued to look anemic on the road.
The same team that ran up record-breaking statistics versus Indiana (63 points, 751 total yards) and thumped Central Michigan 59-9 barely eked out victories against Akron and UConn. As the season progressed, Michigan was only able to run the ball when freshmen Derrick Green and De’veon Smith entered the lineup.
Borges attributed the struggling offense to players failing to execute, as reported by Rachel Lenzi of the Toledo Blade, which has drawn the ire of fans. Michigan’s offensive burst versus Ohio State raises the specter of what could have been this season. Critics note that Borges seems oblivious that he is responsible for players being able to execute his game plan.
When Borges was rewarded after his first season Hoke told The Ann Arbor News that:
We’re real fortunate because we have an athletic director who, No. 1, played the game, played for Bo (Schembechler), loves Michigan, has gone out into the corporate world and has been the best of the best, and understands rewarding people when you feel the need to reward them.
At the same time, if you’re not getting your job done, I’m sure you’ll have a conversation.
Because of the offensive struggles this season, fans are left to wonder when that conversation will take place.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
Greg Mattison returned to Michigan with Brady Hoke after notable stops at Notre Dame, Florida and Baltimore (NFL). While at Florida, he won a national championship while serving on Urban Meyer’s staff.
Mattison orchestrated an amazing turnaround when he took essentially the same players from a defense that got previous coach Rich Rodriguez fired and molded them into a squad that finished 11-2 in his first year. But he took criticism after the defense was shredded by Ohio State in the final game of the regular season and faltered against Penn State and Michigan State.
Mattison has a track record of putting together solid defenses, but his recent squads have been short-handed because of attrition and injuries, most notably to Blake Countess (2012) and Jake Ryan (2013).
Every coach is under pressure following Michigan’s late season collapse, but Mattison is most likely to bounce back strong, especially considering the returning starters he will have next season.
Verdict: Fairly paid but under observation
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained first-hand at press conferences.