Michigan Football: What Al Borges Departure Means for Brady Hoke

Tom LoganCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2014

ESPN.com/Carlos Osorio

It all seemed to happen in a matter of seconds. On Wednesday, Jan. 8, Brady Hoke swiftly announced the firing of much-maligned offensive coordinator Al Borges and replaced him with a shiny new one in former Alabama OC Doug Nussmeier, as ESPN's Joe Schad initially reported. 

Enticing Nussmeier to leave Nick Saban's staff at Alabama is an impressive feat by Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon.

While Nussmeier won't be able to replace Michigan's offensive line with Alabama's, Nussmeier will bring a fresh perspective to an offense that has been wildly inconsistent. He's also a great recruiter and has an excellent track record of developing young quarterbacks. This is a great hire for Michigan. 

But looking beneath the surface, what does Al Borges' departure really mean for coach Hoke? 

It means that he has no more excuses, and no more scapegoats. It's also a clear indicator to Michigan fans that the program won't settle for mediocrity and that regressing in back-to-back seasons won't be tolerated. 

It couldn't have been easy for Hoke to part ways with Borges, who becomes the first assistant to leave the program since Hoke's arrival in 2011. The move contradicts Hoke's statement to the press back on Dec. 2 at an event to support the National Child Identification Program, in which he said that he expected to retain his full staff of assistant coaches. 

Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke celebrate Michigan's win over Notre Dame in September.
Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke celebrate Michigan's win over Notre Dame in September.David Guralnick / Detroit News

Interestingly, when Brandon strongly backed Hoke as the "Right Leader for Michigan Football" in his Nov. 27 manifesto on mgoblue.com, there was no mention of Borges. Brandon did laud defensive coordinator Greg Mattison in his note, saying that, "The transformation and improvement of our defense under the leadership of coach Greg Mattison has been outstanding." 

Could Brandon have forced Hoke's hand on this matter? It's certainly plausible, but we'll probably never know the entire extent of their closed-door discussions at Schembechler Hall. 

What we do know is that Michigan has made a major decision to move away from Borges, and it will invest an even larger amount of money in Nussmeier. Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reported that Nussmeier will be one of the five highest-paid coordinators in the country. But as salaries go up, so do expectations. Hoke and Nussmeier will be expected to make significant strides on offense next year—this can't be a multi-year process. 

So with no more potential scapegoats left in Hoke's cabinet, will he be able to deliver the necessary results in Ann Arbor in 2014? 


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