Thursday, January 9, 2014

Borges Canned - Long Live Nussmeier!

Borges is out and Nussmeier is in.  Before anyone even had a chance to put a list together of “Who is Michigan going to get as their next OC?”  The two announcements happened within less than 2 hours of each other!  Does that mean that there was a collective effort to get Nussmeier immediately following the Sugar Bowl (or earlier than that) and what of the rumors that Saban was looking to upgrade the position anyway? More on that in a minute. 
From here’s an overview of the last few years of Nussmeier’s performance:
INFORMATIVE UPDATE. So who is this dude? He started his coaching career in the CFL with a couple of years as a QB coach, then moved on to Michigan State in the same capacity for three years (Jeff Smoker as a senior and then two years of Drew Stanton), then the Rams for two years. Marc Bulger was an All-Pro in year 1, which was an 8-8 season, and then the Rams went 3-13 and everyone got fired.

Nussmeier landed at Fresno State as OC for one season, was immediately hired away by Washington, and after three years was hired by Saban. His numbers as an offensive coordinator:


Don’t panic with the Washington stint…That was two years coming off a Willingham 0-12 disaster…no one could have turned that around in a year.  But there was improvement.  Then on to Bama, which, yeah, is Bama, but still, if you believe all of the “S-E-C is G-O-D” crap, Nussmeier was doing it against the best in college football.  So, I’m encouraged.
I’m slightly discouraged in the fact that Bama fans are happy to see Nussmeier go…but that could be an attitude issue of, “We’re at the top, we need to do better.”  So Saban grew dis-illusioned with the guy…It happens.  Whatever the case, it can’t be any worse than what Michigan had.
In an earlier Tuesday rant in December, I penned the following stating why I wasn’t calling for Barney’s head this season (but it was a tough decision) and reasoned that Michigan couldn’t get an X’s and O’s guy that would be able to make lemonade out of lemons…or something like that.  Let’s just re-print what I wrote then:
I know I said I was going to call for at least the canning of Barney this week.  I reneged.  I’m sorry about that and I had a complete list of reasons that are frankly still valid: 
  1.  Multiple games with obvious offensive play calls that were just wrong
  2. Two of the worst rushing totals in two (consecutive) games in Michigan History
  3. 12 consecutive quarters where Michigan didn’t score an offensive TD
  4.  and the list goes on…. 
And then I thought to myself:  Who or which O-Coordinator do I want for this team?  What, ideally, do you want in an O-coordinator?  I want an X’s and O’s guy that can make things happen, regardless of the talent he has at his disposal.  I want a coordinator that thinks out of the box and uses the talent he has to its fullest.  One team came to mind this year that in the past had been a running team that passed a bunch this season, LSU.  But I didn’t know who the O-Coordinator was for The Hatter, so I looked it up.  Cam Cameron – a former Michigan Man.  Damn…I wish Michigan would have thought of him a little sooner.  LSU’s problems weren’t on the offensive side of the ball this year..they just let everyone else score too much. 
So, where does that leave Michigan?  I dunno – but I highly doubt that LSU is giving up Cameron…When Borges had Denard, things were not great, but I was still blaming the personnel…this year, I have to lay the blame of at least two losses at the feet of Barney.  I’ll give both Fred and Barney one more season and next year, it’ll be time to make the call. 
So, I guess you can chalk this up to, “Reason number 4,098,456,751 why the MMQ is not the Head Coach or Athletic Director at the University of Michigan."  I will admit that when I heard the news I was a little surprised, but a feeling of whimsy came over me.  I was actually happy that someone had made a decision based on results and didn’t fall back on some lame excuse that “There are going to be seasons like this when you have issues with the offensive line and younger personnel.”
Auburn’s one year turnaround similar to other team's revival like seasons at the D-1 level have proven one thing true: 
Excuses are Bullshit.
I think maybe Brandon might have finally woken up and smelled the coffee.  Let’s face it:  Having a former Domino’s CEO as an AD coming from a quarterly performance business arena has its benefits.  He sees the balance sheet and looks at the cash flows – and the trends of each of those.  Maybe he didn’t like what he was seeing…. Or maybe it was Hoke.  Or was it the desperate act of two yahoos that don’t have a clue?   Or was it a shrewdly calculated move by two great football minds that saw an opportunity in Nussmeier and said, “We have to do this.”
As usual, the reality was probably somewhere in the middle.  I’m sure Hoke believed that Borges’ offense at some point would produce positive results (and yardage), but Brandon probably asked a simple question after looking at the offensive production trend-line (falling off the cliff) over the last two seasons and said:  “When?”  And when Hoke couldn’t provide a definitive answer, Brandon went sniffing around and discovered that Saban was looking at Kiffin (which is a topic for a completely different discussion and an entire blog entry by itself) and figured that Nussmeier, who when hired by Alabama was considered a major coup at the time, was ripe for a phone/text/whatever from the University of Michigan.
When Nussmeier said, “Yeah, I’d love to come back to Michigan (He was the former QB coach at MSU and coached Smoker and Stanton – Two overachieving QB’s for sure under JLS which Nussmeier had to have something to do with), that was it.  I’m sure Brandon said to Hoke, “It’s ultimately your call to do whatever it takes to right the ship here, but in two years (or less), it’ll be my call if Michigan doesn’t have a double digit winning season.”  At that point, Hoke’s hands were tied or he saw the light – however you want to view/spin it.
Such is the fate of Head Coaches and coordinators at the FBS/D1 level.  Too much money…Bloated AD budgets that rely on the Almighty Football revenue.  If you’re not producing and fans aren’t opening their pocketbooks, well, that’s just the way it is.
Again, I’m tickled, frankly, and the timing of this move also tells me that Barney had absolutely NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER on recruiting.  That’s big.  Everyone should be involved in recruiting and if you can let a O or D Coordinator go in what is considered the most important month of the year for recruiting (February 8th is signing day), well, than Borges was even less important than I had previously thought.
I suddenly find myself looking forward to next season!

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