After fielding one of the worst offenses in the Big Ten Conference, Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines have signaled for a major coaching change.
Hoke announced Wednesday evening that offensive coordinator Al Borges will not return for the 2014 season, according to the official website of Michigan athletics.
"Decisions like these are never easy," Hoke said. "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."
Borges has been with the Wolverines for all three of Hoke's seasons in Ann Arbor. The two-time Broyles Award nominee joined Hoke in 2009 while he was at San Diego State.
Michigan's firing of offensive coord Al Borges will require $650K buyout, subject to offset from income from new job he's obligated to seek— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) January 8, 2014
His long career has included offensive coordinator stops at Auburn, Indiana, Cal, UCLA, Oregon and Boise State.
The Wolverines finished 10th in the Big Ten in total offense, tallying just 373.5 yards per game. UM closed out the season with a poor offensive performance (261 total yards) in a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl blowout loss to Kansas State.
Not surprised Hoke made change at #Michigan. Stats wise O got worse all 3 yrs, going from No. 42 to No. 78 to No. 87 this season— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 8, 2014
In that contest, the Wolverines totaled just 65 rushing yards—40 of which came on one run by quarterback Shane Morris in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand.
UM's offensive struggles started long before that, including historically bad performances against rivals Michigan State and Nebraska.
Honestly, I'm surprised Hoke let go of Borges. Maybe Dave Brandon had a say. Idk. But this is the most important hire of Hoke's career— Zach Dirlam (@Zach_Dirlam) January 8, 2014
In consecutive games, the Wolverines netted negative rushing yards. The two-game disaster yielded minus-21 rushing yards against the Cornhuskers and minus-48 (worst output in school history) against the Spartans.
Those embarrassing outcomes likely sealed Borges' fate. Two customary questions now arise: How will this impact recruiting and who will UM bring in to replace Borges?
The first question will be answered in time, but ESPN's Tom VanHaaren has already begun reaching out to several recruits with mixed results. He retweeted 2015 5-star running-back commit Damien Harris expressing surprise over Borges' departure, but also reported that 3-star wide receiver Maurice Ways won't let the news impact his recruitment.
2015 Michigan RB commit RT @Damien_D1Harris Man..... I can't believe this about Coach Borges.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) January 8, 2014
Task No. 1 might be keeping 2014 crown jewel Jabrill Peppers in the fold, while task No. 2 will be replacing Borges.
The high-profile position could attract a number of viable candidates.
The hire will also be a crucial decision for Hoke, who is on the hot seat after regressing in each of his last two seasons.