Making A Move: How A West Coast Guy Moved East

The article on new offensive coordinator Al Borges features comments from Auburn's newest assistant football coach.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's new offensive coordinator admits that a calculated risk he took in the late 1990s was a setback to his coaching career.

As coordinator at UCLA, Al Borges built a high-scoring offense during his time in Los Angeles from 1996-2000. However, a move north didn't work out and eventually set him on a path that is now bringing him to the South to coach the Auburn Tigers.

"I had been at UCLA for five years," Borges says. "We had what I believe was probably the best offensive team in the country for two years running.

"I was there for five years. I had done about all I thought I could do. I really wanted to be a head football coach. At that point, it just didn't seem like it was going to happen. So I decided if I made a move to a place that was down a little bit and if I made a splash, maybe I would get that chance.

"(Cal head coach) Tom Holmoe, who had been a good friend of mine for many years, solicited me for the job. He offered me a very nice contract, which was a multi-year situation.

"I am from that area, which probably tailored my thinking a little bit, too," Borges explains. "So, I got to Cal and it was one disaster after another. We lost our tailback, we lost our receiver, we had a kid turn up ineligible. As it turned out it was not a very good professional decision. I would be the first to admit that, but that is why I did that."

Al Borges

His stay on the staff in Berkley was a short one with Holmoe being fired after a 5-6 season so Borges was soon looking for a coaching job. "It was the first time in my career that I had actually been fired," Borges says. "Then after that I sat at home and stewed around a little bit and started looking for jobs. I had a couple of opportunities. (Indiana head coach) Gerry DiNardo called me, brought me in and offered me the job. That is how it came about."

After two seasons at Indiana, Tommy Tuberville has hired Borges to be Auburn's offensive coordinator. Borges got the call over three others who were brought to campus for interviews--Miami of Ohio offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery, Toledo offensive coordinator Rob Spence and Georgia Tech assistant coach Buddy Geis.

After a solid first season, in which his Hoosiers' offense set a school record for passing yardage, year two was unimpressive as Indiana averaged just 321 yards per game.

Asked to explain what happened offensively last fall, Borges says, "We had a few transitional growing pains, you know, in that we lost a few guys. We had a few injuries. It was the same old scenario. This team, Indiana, is in a rebuilding process. I have been in that situation a couple times in my career. Indiana is going to win some games here. It is just a matter of time. There are just going to be some growing pains you go through to reach that point.

"I really believe Indiana has a chance," Borges adds. "I believe Auburn has a better chance. I believe Auburn has more things in place and that is why I was so interested in the job. I think that is probably the best way to explain it."


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