Poll results: Did Al Borges and Darrell Funk save their jobs against OSU?

Poll results: Did Al Borges and Darrell Funk save their jobs against OSU?


December 10, 2013

After the Ohio State game, I posed the above question about offensive coordinator Al Borges and offensive line coach Darrell Funk, both of whom took a lot of criticism for Michigan’s subpar, inconsistent offense this season. Here are the results:

Haha, no: 29%


To be determined: 28%


Yes: 23%


Borges did: 11%


Funk did: 6%


I have a hard time believing that Al Borges will be fired, because as much as people wanted to point at Devin Gardner’s “regression” during the year, he turned in a great game against Ohio State, along with several excellent performances earlier in the year (mainly Indiana and Notre Dame). At the beginning of the season, he was a little too careless with the ball. Then he started to get a little too careful. Against Iowa and Ohio State, I thought he walked the line pretty well. The play calling was atrocious at times, but with Gardner returning in 2014, I think Brady Hoke will want to have some continuity. Athletic director David Brandon might step in and force Hoke to fire him, but if Hoke has his druthers, I think Borges returns.

As for Darrell Funk, I think his fate might have been sealed already. While Michigan did fairly well running the ball against a good Ohio State defense, I think someone’s head has to roll for the offense’s underperformance. Funk might not even deserve it after having to deal with so many young guys and injuries from guard to guard, but I thought Michigan’s tackles regressed, and Funk would be the easiest scapegoat (for lack of a better word). Unless the Wolverines blow the doors off their bowl game opponent, I believe Funk will probably be out the door.

24 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    This was the worst offensive line performance that anyone has seen at Michigan in almost 50 years. We had more negative yardage plays than ANY other DI team in the country. It's inconceivable that no one gets fired after a performance like that. And no way does one game where we looked better make up for that. Borges and Funk didn't all of a sudden get much better between Iowa and OSU. Anyone thinking that this one decent game is the norm, while a whole host of crappy games are the anomaly, isn't thinking straight.

    My guess is that Funk takes the fall for this, and that Borges stays (though I'm not convinced he deserves to). If Borges doesn't produce next year, it won't matter anyway, because he'll be gone along with Hoke and everyone else.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    You wrote "The play calling was atrocious at times" and I agree completely.

    Personal (and, of course, optional) question: Did Space Coyote's defense of the coaches on MGoBlog make much sense to you? He seems like a smart guy, but I found myself siding with Brian Cook more often on that issue.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Dec 10, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I think the first change they made in the offensive line was necessary, but all the myriad changes after that were counterproductive. I think most of those changes did more harm than good, and continuously mixing the players up guaranteed bad performance.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Magnus's post assumes the prevailing mood among posters on blogs matches Brady Hoke's thinking, and I see no indication of his thinking one way or the other.

    I'm not convinced either coach did poorly. The team played poorly at times, but without being present at practice and on the sidelines, we are only guessing at the cause. It could be the players' ability, skill or effort; it could be the coaches. Maybe the players were just bad and the coaches did well with the hand they were dealt; maybe the players were great and the coaches dropped the ball. Maybe the players did well in practice and just couldn't execute in games. If it was the coaches, than which ones? Was Funk following Borges' instructions? Were both of them following Hoke's? Was Brandon micro-managing and interfering? Probably most of those explanations are true to some degree.

    The objective facts we do know are that the team was very young; the OL and QB made many mistakes and the offense was generally very unproductive beginning with Akron; and at the end of the season much of that improved (sacks and hits on the QB dropped to normal levels, INTs mostly stopped, rushing yards went from red to black, TFL dropped to normal levels).

    Also , we saw that through great adversity, from being overwhelmed on the field, to hate mail to boos to endless vitriol online from fans, we didn't see any breakdowns on the team. There was no finger-pointing, they backed each other up, and the coaches took the heat, and they never quit and kept working and improving. That, to me, is great coaching.

    Again, I don't know who is at fault; sometimes nobody is. What bothers me is people engaging their anger and throwing stones; it always feels good at the time but never turns out well especially when you do it in your own house.

    Long Time Alum

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      Let's never fire anyone and hold nobody accountable for performance. Let's also criticize the explanations of others while making up our own and assuming they're true to some degree.

      Let's also re-hash excuses that would rationalize mediocrity, but not the evident tire fire and resign ourselves to poor quality. Are we really to the point where coaches get a blue ribbon for doing the bare minimum of their jobs?

      Let's just ignore every other program where lower-paid coaches do so much more with so much less. Let's just keep our analysis in a vacuum and offer empty rhetoric.

      Sounds like a plan.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    As far as the tackles "regressing". How much of that can be attributed to young'ns to their inside? I am sure confusion on assignments at times lead to the OT's seeming to be at fault. I also believe some of Lewan's "regression" was on him. At some point in the season he had to have agents/business people who advise him getting him perhaps more focused on the futre. I would think Jackson has to be on the table too. Back development couldn't be rated as a strong point for many years now. Great time to send him out appropriately and on a high note to retire along with his son graduating.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Anonymous
      Dec 11, 2013 at 1:29 AM

      You don't know Taylor Lewan. He was playing hurt for a majority of these games. Saying he took it easy because he's thinking about the pros is stupid. If he was thinking about the pros, he could have left last year, and been a top 10 pick.

  6. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    EGD
    Dec 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    I don't think Borges is as bad as most people say, but I would prefer an OC who follows a cohesive plan rather than a grab-bag approach, and who isn't averse to taking free yards. Nonetheless, I tend to think that even if Hoke fired Borges (which I don't see happening), he would just replace him with another old guard coach and we wouldn't be any better off.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      DonAZ
      Dec 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      I agree with nearly every word of this.

      Michigan has a lot of offensive talent, and Borges has shown the ability to mostly utilize the talent on hand. The trouble is, he seems inconsistent … some games taking what is given by the defense and other games stubbornly insisting on getting yards in the way he wants. The thing is, I'm not 100% convinced that's all Al Borges … I wonder how much of Borges's behavior is really based on mandates coming down from Hoke.

      If we could reprogram Borges to be only the good that he's capable of I'm nearly certain every Michigan fan would be happy. Even Chris Brown of "Smart Football" fame used the adjective "solid" to describe Al Borges. He's not a bad OC … he's just operated with a weird inconsistency this year.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Hoke already said all coaches are coming back, why did you say you think Funk is going to get fired?

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 10, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      Hoke really had no other choice than to say all coaches are coming back. We shall see.

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    Thunder, do you pay any attention to coaching search? The guy that runs it said he expects some changes to happen, but it may not be for a while.

    I wonder if Fred Jackson is going to coach through to signing day, then have Wheatley take over? That makes the most sense, since the NFL season still has a few weeks left.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      No, I don't really follow that site, although I've visited a couple times. I would think that there has to be at least one coaching change, if for no other reason than there's only been one (Jerry Montgomery/Roy Manning) in three years.

      Wheatley to Michigan is not a no-brainer. Wheatley is an NFL running backs coach, so it would be a step down for him to come to Michigan. I think something that would make more sense would be Mike Hart.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      I'd be ecstatic if Wheatley comes. He is from Detroit and he is a Michigan guy. So the likelihood of him coming back to us is a lot higher than someone without connections. I love Mike Hart too — He carried the team during that horrendous 2007 season, and I will forever remember him for it, but I don't think he is experienced enough for the job. Wheatley has much better/more experience/resume for the job. If Jackson decides to retire, Brandon should open up the checkbook for Wheatley. Wheatley is a legend for us and it would be great to have him coach our kids.

  9. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Painter Smurf
    Dec 11, 2013 at 5:44 AM

    I have mixed feelings on Borges. I like him in the sense that he is a pro-style guy who gets aggressive w/ the passing game. Assuming he has the right pieces, he can light things up. He would have been terrific under Carr with UM's QB and TE/WR talent. I love offenses that exploit the heck out of dual-threat TE's and UM should not have trouble recruiting excellent TE's going forward.

    But Borges really screwed up this year. Forget about the green interior OL, UM had no prayer of running a power offense with Fitz Troussaint at RB and Williams/Funchess blocking at TE. But he wasted the entire off-season and the first half of the season running jumbo formations and assuming it would magically work. All of that unbalanced line stuff was a ridiculous gimmick. And on the line, they obviously misjudged several players in the off season. Pretty much all year, Borges was content to blatantly tip plays to defenses based on formation and personnel. And he had some bread-and-butter plays like the stretch that probably averaged 1 YPP.

    I know Dileo was hurt for much of the season, but they should have found another option (not Jackson) in the slot and gotten the TE's who could not block or catch off the field. Devin is a QB who does not play well (yet) with a packed box or with heavy blitzes. The teams he played his best against were the teams that were the least aggressive on passing blitzes. Spreading would have given Devin more room with which to work and made it tougher on teams to blitz.

    History has shown that Borgie needs a prolific passer to generate a legit running game. My preference would be to bring in a pro-style OC with a better track record for good rushing attacks w/o great QB's. But if they keep Borgie, he can be successful here. Other than the basics, I think he primarily needs a polished passer (which he has not had at UM yet) and good TE's.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      Magnus tossed some criticism in the direction of Rich Rodruiguez about not putting the best players on the field, and he was right to some degree. I see perhaps an even bigger issue with this staff in that field.

      I'd rather not have an OC who gets hamstrung as easily as Borges apparently does. In football, there are a number of factors beyond control, but we CAN control the staff selection, and I'd really prefer that Michigan employ people who are above mediocre. Borges might not be the worst ever, but it's truly sad if that's enough of a reason to keep him around.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      I think you're right on the money for this one. Borges won't be fired this off-season and most likely won't fired after next season with Hoke's talent maturing (almost guaranteed to win more than 7 games. I am thinking 9 wins during the regular season would be the minimum). Hopely Morris and Speight can develop nicely as well as our TEs. Jake Butt is going to be amazing down the road. If the talent is in place, I think Borges can put out some great offenses.

  10. Avatar
    Comments: 21377
    Dec 11, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    Any leads re: Fred Jackson's possible retirement? He's ~63, so it won't surprise me if he retires, but is he willing to? Then again, Greg Mattison is a year older than Jackson, so…

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      I haven't heard anything, and frankly, I wouldn't mind if Jackson stayed. I really don't think he's an issue at all. The guy has been a good coach. It's not his fault that the offensive line was terrible this year.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Painter Smurf
      Dec 11, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      One problem I have with Jackson is that he seems to play favorites. I have not understood the logic behind the RB rotation the last couple years. Surprised that Thunder is cool with Jackson, considering he nailed his favorite player's butt to the bench for four years (Cox).

      One other thing – UM has a pretty old tradition of developing a deep RB corps. But I'd say the position has been comparatively down since the late '90's. They found a few good ones in guys like Perry and Hart, but there have been a ton of busts. Schools like OSU, Wisconsin, Illinois, and MSU have had better RB weapons over the last 15 years than UM in my opinion. I suspect that goes back to recruiting talent evaluation.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      I think Painter Smurf's points are right on the money. Mike Cox thing was always puzzling. Esp. given the fact that Cox now has an NFL career after doing one year at UMass. Aside from Chris Perry and Mike Hart, we also have been lagging behind in RB development over the years imo. Our RBs have been nothing special besides Perry and Hart under Jackson.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 12, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      @ Painter Smurf: I'm not convinced that putting Cox on the bench was Jackson's idea. While he's the position coach, it's ultimately up to Rodriguez to decide who plays.

      @ suduri xusai: Fred Jackson has been the running backs coach for Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Tyrone Wheatley, Mike Hart, Chris Perry, and Anthony Thomas. I think people underestimate the success he's had as a position coach. Biakabutuka, Wheatley, and Perry were all first round picks, Thomas was a second-rounder, and Hart was a fourth-rounder (IIRC). We may think the RB development has been lagging behind, but I honestly don't know how many schools have had better RB production over the past 20-ish years. What other school(s) can boast that kind of success over that span? This is an honest question, because I haven't researched it at all. OSU has had Beanie Wells and Eddie George. USC has had Reggie Bush and Lendale White. Miami had McGahee and Edgerrin James. These are all off the top of my head, but can anyone think of a school with three first-round running backs over 20 years? Jackson has the school's top two all-time rushers, plus #7 (Perry), #11 (Biakabutuka), and #18 (Toussaint), plus partial responsibility for #5 (Wheatley) and #14 (Ricky Powers).

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Dec 12, 2013 at 1:20 AM

      I stand corrected. I hope Jackson hasn't lost his development skills and continue to develop our guys as well as he developed Biakabutuka, Perry, etc.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 21377
      Painter Smurf
      Dec 12, 2013 at 3:16 AM

      If you go back to 2000, UM's RB's have definitely fallen off. OSU's have been significantly better since that point. Clarrett, Wells, and Hyde were all big studs. Pittman was not a headline guy, but he was similar to Hart in terms of production. (I loved watching Hart play, but UM fans overrate him a bit – OSU never lost any sleep over him.) OSU's worst starting RB of late has been Boom Herron, and he was still respectable and I think he is still in the NFL. OSU's current back-up Rod Smith would have started for UM in any of the Hoke years. Forget about Wisconsin – they typically have two RB's on their roster in most year's who could start for UM. RR did not recruit any good RB's and Carr recruited two or three. UM has gotten stuck playing a lot of misfit FB-types at RB (Askew, Minor). But UM's list of absolute busts at RB over the last 15 years is staggering – not only were they not great players, but many did not belong on a Big Ten field period.

      I cannot remember the last time UM had two quality RB's available in one season. That was commonplace in the 80's and 90's. Whether or not FJ is responsible for this, I am not sure. Hopefully, this starts to change with the '13 recruits and beyond.

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