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January 09, 2014 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 7A

On Recruiting: Coaching instability plaguing efforts

Daily Sports Writer
Let's go back to the night of
September 7th.
Everything seemed perfect
for the Michigan football team.
The Wolverines dismantled a
ranked Notre Dame in front of a
record-setting crowd. Beyoncd
even exclaimed "Go Blue!" in
a halftime video message. Life
was good for Michigan fans.
The 2014 recruiting class was
top-tier, and the 2015 class was
starting to take form. Any ques-
tions about Brady Hoke or Al
Borges's job security would've
seemed ridiculous because a
Big Ten championship looked
within reach.
But then the Wolverines sea-
son started to deteriorate, and
they fell to 7-5.
Twitter exploded with
demands for coaching
changes. But was that really
justified? Recruits noticed
these demands, leading to
uncertainty in their minds as to

whether coaching changes were
The first to publicly voice
his concerns was five-star
cornerback Jabrill Peppers, the
Wolverines's top-rated commit.
Peppers tweeted that he would
take official visits to other
schools in a violation of Hoke's
recruiting policy, leaving
Peppers decommitted in the
coach's eye.
"I am still 100-percent com-
mitted to the University of
Michigan and that is the place
where I want to go to college,"
Peppers told ESPN's Tom Van-
Haaren after the tweet. "With
the rumors about coach Hoke
possibly not being there, I need
to make sure that IShave options
and have seen other places."
Two days after Peppers's
tweet, Michigan Athletic
Director Dave Brandon
published a blog post to dispel
rumors about the job security of
the coaching staff.
"Brady Hoke is our coach
and will be leading our football
program well into the future,"
he wrote on MoGoBlue.com.
"There is no question about it.
Anyone making efforts to stir
up a coaching controversy at
Michigan is ill-informed and
is likely promoting a personal
agenda that is not in the best
interest of Michigan football."
Brandon's assurances
worked. Peppers later took an
official visit to Ann Arbor and
decided other visits wouldn't be
part of his plan, reaffirming his
commitment to the Wolverines.
Borges, though, wasn't in
Michigan's future plans despite
Brandon's reassurances about
the staff. Wednesday, Hoke
announced Borges wasn't
retained for a fourth year, and
reports soon surfaced that the
coordinator would be replaced
by Alabama's Doug Nussmeier.

Maybe it was a necessary
change. But the Wolverines's
prized 2015 commit, five-star
running back Damien Har-
ris, soon tweeted, "Man ..... I
can't believe this about Coach
Only time will tell whether
or not Harris will decommit,
but coaching changes certainly
won't help, even if the offense
may improve without Borges.
But Harris's high school
coach has ties to Borges. The
two coached together at Auburn
in 2007. It's possible that this
is where Harris's apparent
displeasure with the move is
And if he decommits, it
would be the second major loss
for Michigan.
George Campbell, a 2015 five-
star wide receiver and ESPN's
No. 2 overall recruit, officially
decommitted from Michigan
in late December, shocking
Wolverine fans and defying
the promise he made when he
committed in August.
"I'm going to stick with
(Michigan)," Campbell said
in an earlier interview with
ESPN's Jared Sandler. "I
was taught to stay with my
commitment, and that's
something I'm going to do, no
matter what, with Michigan."
Weeks after the Peppers
scare, Campbell speared many
Michigan hearts, even before
Borges was fired. Many believe
Campbell's decommitment
occurred because of his fam-
ily's views. Yes, Campbell will
be able to play closer to home if
he chooses to stay in Florida or
enroll anywhere in the south.
When a player commits to
an out-of-state school, there's
always a degree of uncertainty.
Those qualms are easier to
handle with a father-like coach.
Hoke's supposed job insecurity

Michigan football eoach Brady Hoke announced that offensive coordinator Al Borges will not return to the team in 2014.

pIV 7rJVVl
Borgess annual salary, amongthe
highest in the nation for an assistant.

may well have been the factor
that caused Campbell to
It didn't end there. Hjalte
Frojoldt, a four-star defensive
line prospect who hails from
Denmark committed to Arkan-
sas over Michigan after most
recruiting analysts considered
him a heavy Wolverine lean. In
any given year, committing to
Arkansas over Michigan may
sound ordinary and justified.
After all, would you blame a kid
who wants to play in the SEC
and warm weather?
But in 2013 Froholt was dif-
ferent. He was a Michigan lean
through thick and thin. Arkan-
sas also went 3-9 and didn't win
an SEC game. Yes, Michigan
had its struggles, but Arkan-
sas's were far greater. What

did Arkansas have over the
Wolverines? Coaching stability.
It's hard to imagine Borges's fir-
ing would've had any affect on
Froholdt's recruitment.
Bret Beilema just completed
his first year coaching the
Razorbacks after winning three
consecutive Big Ten titles at
Hoke, on the other hand,
has had a couple of strong
recruiting classes, but the team
hasn't competed in a Big Ten
championship game, much less
won the conference.
Had Michigan converted the
two-point conversion against
Ohio State, or had one of three
field-goal misses been made
against Penn State, perhaps that
coaching uncertainty wouldn't
have arisen.

Would Brandon have been
forced to make such a bold
statement defending his coach?
Losing Hoke would be
disastrous for Michigan. Just
look at his recruiting classes.
The 2014 contigent is shaping
up tobe star-studded, while the
2015 class is doing the same,
even without Campbell.
Yes, Hoke may be on the hot
seat. But consistently calling for
his firing only exacerbates the
recruiting problems.
For Hoke's recruiting prow-
ess to continue, the coaching
staff largely needs to stay put.
- Rubinstein can be reached
at jasonbr@umich.edu and
on Twitter @jrubinstein4.

M inus-4
Rushing yardsby Michigan against
Michigan State, a program worst.

early in the season and had a
tendency to hold onto the ball for
too long. Sophomore quarterback
Shane Morris displayed ample
ability in the Buffalo Wild Wings
Bowl, but is still inexperienced.
Nussmeier should help groom
both quarterbacks.
Nussmeier was a quarterback
in college at Idaho and for five
seasons in the NFL. He began as
a quarterbacks coach, with stints
at Michigan State and with the
St. Louis Rams. He graduated
to offensive coordinator at
Fresno State, before moving to
Washington and Alabama.
Quarterbacks Jake Locker,
Drew Stanton, Jeff Smoker
and Marc Bulger are all former
pupils, all of whom played or
currently play in the NFL.
When Keith Price inherited the
quarterback position afterLocker
left for the NFL, Nussmeier
coached him to new records
in touchdowns, completion
percentage and passing
efficiency. In fact, Washington
improved statistically in each of
Nussmeier's three seasons there.
Nussmeier is ranked the 14th
best recruiter in the nation by 247
Sports's coaching database, and
he could push to sign five-star
quarterback and Alabama com-
mit Ricky Town. Nussmeier was
the lead recruiter in snagging
Town, though ESPN's Tom Van-
Haaren reported that the quar-
terback is planning to stick with

Alabama after the two exchanged
texts Wednesday night.
Still, the offensive line has car-
ried Nussmeier's offense while
at Alabama. In 2012, the Crim-
son Tide featured one of the best
offensive lines in college football
history, three offensive linemen
that were drafted in the first four
rounds of the NFL Draft, includ-
ing two picked in the first round.
Michigan's line will require
much more development. By the
end of the year, Borges had tin-
kered with an unbalanced look,
an end-around heavy offense
and a screen-dependent attack
to mask an interior incapable of
opening holes. None of it worked.
Nussmeier has experimented
little at Alabama.
"You didn't see a lot of new
wrinkles, a lot of new things
here and there," Torrence said.
"It got pretty predictable at some
Crimson Tide fans point to
the loss to Texas A&M in 2012 as
particularly frustrating. Despite
heroics by Texas A&M quarter-
back Johnny Manziel, Alabama
still had a chance to win the game
on its last possession. Needing a
touchdown on 1st-and-goal from
the six-yard line, with the best
offensive line in the nation, Nuss-
meier called three passes out of
the shotgun, with just one run.
The Aggies intercepted the
fourth-down pass, and Alabama

Doug Nussmeier
Minimum salaryefor Nussmeier at
Michigan, according to CBSSports'
Bruce Feldman.
Nussmeier's salary at Alabama in 2013.
Yards his Alabamaoffenseaccumulated
against Michigan in the2012CowboysClassic
whoplayed in the NFL
Touchdownsscored by Alabamain2012,a
Crimson Tide's national rankingfor
points scored this year.
This is a developing story
Check MichiganDaily.com
throughout the day for updates

AUSTIN BIGONEY/The Crimson White
Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will coach Michigan's offense in 2014, according to numerous reports.
Gettingto know: Oensive
coordinator Doug4 Nuss-meier

Daily Sports Writer
As the offensive coordinator at
Alabama last season, Doug Nuss-
meier, reportedly the Michigan
football team's new offensive
coordinator, was the subject of an
online petition calling for his job.
The petition "To fire offensive
coordinator Doug Nussmeier"
received two signatures.
But Nussmeier, 43, has plenty
of similarities to Michigan's
outgoing offensive coordinator,
Al Borges, who was fired
Wednesday. Both favor the pro-
style, downhill running game to
set up play-action and vertical
routes. Both coach the offense
and the quarterbacks.
What Nussmeier had at
Alabama, and Borges didn't at
Michigan, was an offense good
enough to quell dissent from a
fan base that demanded better
In Nussmeier, Michigan
gains a coach who runs the
pro-style offense preferred by
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, a
skilled recruiter and a proven
quarterback mentor. His early
success will hinge upon the

question that flummoxed Borges
and Hoke for all of 2012: how
to succeed despite a young and
error-prone offensive line?
The early reviews are positive.
Before the Sugar Bowl, according
to Alabama's student newspaper
The Crimson White, Oklahoma
Coach Bob Stoops praised
Nussmeier and his offense.
"It's old school. It's NFL-
style football," Stoops said. "And
they come at you in a variety of
different sets, shifts, motions.
They window dress things very
well. It's very well organized. It's
very well orchestrated."
Alabama offensive lineman
Cyrus Kouandjio told the
Crimson White that everybody
loved the offensive coordinator.
"You don't see a lot of
coaches like Coach Nussmeier,"
Kouandjio said. "That's why
coach Saban hired him. And he's
livingup to it."
In Nussmeier's first year in
Tuscaloosa in 2012, the offense
set records for touchdowns (68),
points (542), total offense (6,237)
and passing touchdowns (32).
In his first game with the Crim-
son Tide, his offense dismantled
Michigan in the Cowboys Clas-

sic. Despite shutting down for
much of the second half, the
Crimson Tide won 41-14 and
put up 431 yards of total offense,
including 232 on the ground.
Under Nussmeier, the offense
opened up - at least for a Nick
Saban-coached team - when
he implemented more vertical
routes and attacked teams over
the top. The offense showed
more three- and four-receiver
sets, usually with an H-back who
could become more involved
in the passing game than a
traditional fullback.
The Alabama passing game
grew with its quarterback, AJ
McCarron. In 2011, the year
before Nussmeier arrived,
McCarron played a role largely
described as "game manager."
By 2013, according to Marc
Torrence, sports editor at The
Crimson White, McCarron
"had the greatest season as a
quarterback in Alabama history.
You have to attribute that
somewhat to Nussmeier."
At Michigan, fifth-year senior
quarterback Devin Gardner
showed potential in his first
full season at the starter, but
he committed costly turnovers

Nussmeier will inherit an offense that averaged 373.5 yards per game in 2013 and returns its startin gquarterback.

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