Al Borges (above) is shown during his tenure on Auburn's football coaching staff.
Auburn, Ala.--Saturday’s Homecoming football game will feature the return to Jordan-Hare Stadium of Al Borges, who spent four seasons coaching the Auburn Tigers as Tommy Tuberville’s offensive coordinator.
Borges, the first year offensive coordinator at San Jose State, will try to help the visiting Spartans end Auburn’s 27-game homefield winning streak vs. non-conference opponents.
A well-traveled veteran coach, Borges notes that he remembers previous coaching stops as pluses or minuses. “When I think of Auburn, I think of nothing but plus,” he says. “My four years coaching there, I would not trade anything for it.
“The end wasn’t all that good, but in the nature of my job, the ebb and flow of my job, it isn’t always going to be smooth.” (Borges was fired at the end of the 2007 season.)
The coach points out that he enjoyed working in the SEC and the interaction with Auburn fans because of their passion for the game.
“The Auburn fans were awesome,” he said. “They didn’t always like me because I am the offensive coordinator and there are times they are not going to like me, but they were always respectful and good to me. I always had such a great feeling about Auburn football and Auburn people.
“And, I am going to tell you something,”?he added. “When I was 20-something years old I would never have thought I would want to live in Alabama, but after my five years I?lived in Alabama it was awesome. I?loved living in Alabama and I wouldn’t mind living there again.”
On Saturday the coach will be back in Auburn for the first time since 2008. He noted that he has lost 75 pounds since then and is feeling good about that, but said he would like to drop more. The coach said he would also like to spend time with old friends, but he has a job to do.
“It is all business--we are going to go in there and play a ball game. It would nice if there was more time and I could see some people, but I am looking forward to it. The game will be fun and we will see what we can do.”
As a coach at Auburn his favorite memories involved helping the Tigers go 4-0 vs. archrival Alabama, which he said is one of college football’s classic rivalries. “That makes your life so much easier if you live in Alabama,” he said of beating the Tide. “That is No. 1. Some years we played really good against them and some we didn’t, but we still won, which is the bottom line of that thing.”
For Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium the coach will be matching wits with Auburn’s defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, who was defensive coordinator on Tuberville’s staff for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The two coordinators were very competitive with each other during practices those years, Borges points out, noting Muschamp’s defenses were strong and usually came out on top in practices.
“We had a very good relationship, a very professional relationship,” he said. “We had great respect for each other. That made the thing work and if you have that you have a heck of a deal going.”
Despite Auburn’s struggles this year, Borges said going against Muschamp’s players will be a challenge. “I am expecting them to play their butts off because that is all I know with Will Muschamp’s teams,” he said, adding, “they were 11 bullets running to the ball and if they weren’t he was screaming bloody murder.
Will Muschamp returned to Auburn for the 2015 season after being gone since 2007.
“I know he has fired a lot of guys” Borges said of the lineup changes the Tigers have made on defense this season. “Every time I?look at their roster there are a bunch of new guys in there, but he is going to find the 11 who will play Will Muschamp football...11 guys who will play with their hair on fire. If I?know Will he won’t accept it until he gets what he wants.”
Commenting on his initial season at San Jose State, Borges said, “Our offense has been good or bad, based on the quarterback play. We have two games the quarterbacks played their butts off, two games they haven’t. That is my responsibility--I coach it.”
He said the key to success for the Spartans is for the quarterbacks to be steady. “They don’t have to leap over tall buildings and dodge bullets. What they need to do is play solid, keep the ball out of the other teams’ hands, manage our offense on the line of scrimmage and, obviously, don’t throw interceptions. If you do that you have got a chance. We have shown that at times.
“The rest of our offense, we aren’t bad,” the coach said. “We have got a good running back who can make big plays, we have a good tight end who is a very good receiver. Our outside guys are very solid receivers. I don’t know that we have any prolific wide receivers, but they are all pretty good kids. We have what I?think is a next level fullback and our offensive line is surprisingly athletic. That was my biggest surprise when I came here.”
Borges joined Tuberville’s staff in 2004, the season the Tigers posted a 13-0 record and won the SEC Championship, but did not get to play in the BCS Championship Game. That team was one of the more well-known squads in modern college history because it did not get an opportunity to play for the title, something that gave momentum for major college football to move to a four-team playoff, which began last season.
Auburn’s 2005 team finished with a 9-3 mark, the 2006 Tigers were 11-2 and in 2007 the team finished 9-4, which included a win over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after Borges had been fired by Coach Tuberville.
Since then he has been offensive coordinator at Michigan and San Diego State prior to reuniting with San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher, who worked with Borges as an assistant coach at UCLA.