Monday, November 26, 2007

Aggies, Arkansas and Borges

AUBURN -- I'm sitting here in the athletics complex on this rainy November Monday morning, awaiting whatever news is to come from Tommy Tuberville's meeting with Auburn president Jay Gogue and athletics director Jay Jacobs. I'll be glad to spill when it comes, but I must spill my mind first.
Before it bursts.
If you read a few blogs down, you'll see that my gut feeling on the whole Tommy Tuberville-to-Texas A&M thing was this: A&M and Tuberville used each other. A&M got a diversionary name to float out to the public, and Tuberville got negotiating leverage at Auburn for himself, his assistants and facilities.
I thought that from the first chatter linking Tuberville and A&M.
As I sit here, A&M is three days removed from Dennis Franchione's resignation ... and less than an hour from a news conference to announce Mike Sherman as its new coach. Tuberville is meeting with his bosses, as scheduled.
There's been much written and said in other places about Tuberville to Texas A&M, more by state and national columnists than beat writers. Weeks ago, we read that he was the No. 1 candidate, and there was no No. 2. We read that it was time for Auburn fans to "panic." As late as last Friday, we read that "it's still possible" could end up at A&M.
It's Monday, and Auburn fans know where their coach is. A&M fans know who their coach is.
Ah, but there's still negotiating underway, and Tuberville still needs for leverage. Funny how Arkansas talk picked up as the A&M door shut.
Arkansas was expected to annouce Houston Nutt's buyout Monday night, and published speculation lists Tuberville as a possible candidate.
Then again, Arkansas would have to pay Nutt's $3.5 million buyout, plus Tuberville's $6 million buyout at Auburn and whatever salary Tuberville would command.
I've been in this business 20 years, too long to say that anything is impossible. Tuberville is from Arkansas, after all, but the timing of all of this makes it sound like another leverage grab.
So much for the front-burner coaching speculation. Now, on to Auburn assistants, particularly Al Borges.
My daily case of message-board fatigue comes after reading so many threads debating whether Borges has a future at Auburn beyond this season, and whether he should.
There's talk that he might be the mix for the head-coaching job at Colorado State. There's talk that Borges leaving might be what Tuberville wants.
May be. Auburn's offense ranks 106th in the NCAA Bowl Sub-Division.
Me thinks fans clamoring for Borges' ouster/departure might be forgetting a lot of facts, however. Borges had the SEC's top offenses in 2004 and 2005. He did it with two different quarterbacks. He did it despite replacing three first-round draft picks from his backfield in 2005.
Auburn's offense began to falloff in 2006, in part because of season-long nagging injuries that slowed quarterback Brandon Cox and running back Kenny Irons, the 2005 SEC rushing champion.
Auburn's offense became little more than a clock eater for Auburn's defense this season, largely because a celebrated corps of four wide receivers finished their eligibility in 2005 and 2006. Auburn had trouble recruiting that position until Devin Aromashodu, Anthony Mix and Ben Obomanu were seniors in 2005, and what's left after Courtney Taylor graduated in 2006 is either young or mediocre.
Factor in three true freshmen on the offensive line, and Auburn didn't have the personnel to be a more aggressive and more effective offense this season. The Tigers had to be conservative to keep the clock moving. Tuberville said as much last week, citing personnel and his own defense-first style for the failings of Auburn's offense this season.
So why does Borges catch heat from some fans? They're dissatisfied, he happens to have a title and memories can be short on details.
I don't think a coach forgets how to coach. We saw during Saturday's Iron Bowl that Borges still knows how to use formation shifts to confuse a defenses. He also showed misdirection, hitting Alabama with runs right and play-action, rollout passes left. Those tactics combined to buy Auburn a touchdown on its first drive.
That Borges can coach showed in the fact that Auburn scored on its first drive in six of its last eight games. Defenses adjust, and, again, he had limited personnel to work with, but I don't see that as Borges' fault.
Just my two cents.


Live and Let Blog said...

apparently Nutt is out...nothing official til 630pm...

be curious to see if Arky wants to talk to Tubs...of course i dont think they'd wanna pony up to the table where the 6 million buyout is concerned but who would?

Tubs is a pretty decent coach but is he worth the buyout and a 3 mill plus salary that i would think it would take to get him?

nah, pass.

as a fan, i dont feel like much of the offensive woes have really been Borges fault.

I think that Tubs takes the reigns on both offense and defense. thats who i blame for the lack luster offensive production and the bull headedness to keep Cox in when Cox should probably come out.

i am optimistic abt what Borges will do with the talent thats on the plains, but the biggest problem is that i dont believe this staff has done enough to develop next years QB when there were opportunites...

war eagle,

Joe Medley said...

Good points all. Good to hear from you.