Michigan Wolverines Football

Michigan Football: Are Al Borges and Greg Mattison Overpaid?

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 5: Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke watches the defensive call by coordinator Greg Mattison during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 24-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Phil CallihanContributor IDecember 20, 2013

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
School2013 RankConfCoachSpecialtySpc/RankTotal Pay
Clemson11ACCChad MorrisOffense13$1.31M
Alabama3SECKirby SmartDefense5$1.15M
LSU14SECJohn ChavisDefense20$1.12M
MichiganN/ABig TenGreg MattisonDefense38$851K
Georgia24SECTodd GranthamDefense47$850K
WashingtonN/APAC-12Justin WilcoxDefense50$800K
Clemson11ACCBrent VenablesDefense23$800K
Auburn2SECEllis JohnsonDefense88$800K
MichiganN/ABig TenAl BorgesOffense83$709K
Texas A&M21SECMark SnyderDefense105$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

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01:  University of Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges watches the action during the game against the University of  Alabama at Cowboys Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. Alabama defeated Michigan 41-14.  (Pho
Leon Halip/Getty Images

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.

Verdict: Overpaid

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.

Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on the sidelines with head coach Brady Hoke against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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