Borges Adapting To Southern Fried Football

<b>Editor's Note: This report on new AU offensive coordinator Al Borges is the sixth in a summer series of feature articles on current or former Auburn athletes.</b>

Auburn, Ala.--Al Borges has only been in the South for a few months now, but the admitted football junkie, who has coached at a variety of major college programs schools in his career, says that he has suddenly found himself transplanted into a place and a job that he has dreamed about his whole life.

"The enthusiasm about football is the most exciting thing for a football coach and, in particular, for a football coach who came from a place that was more of a basketball school," Borges notes. "How fired up people are about the game. How much they love the game. I have said it a thousand times, but it is still applicable. I have found a place that loves football as much as I love football and I think that is so true here.

"When I was at UCLA we had a big run of wins," Borges adds. "We won 20 games in a row and we were filling up the Rose Bowl pretty good--people were fired up. I think the difference, I would say, between coaching football on the West Coast and coaching football in the South is people love football on the West Coast when it is football season. They think it is a pretty good deal and when you are winning they like it even more.

"In the South it is always football season," the offensive coordinator adds "So, it doesn't matter if you are in the middle of April or the middle of October--people care. They are on top of it, they are better informed. The fans here are very, very well informed about your football team and about your players. I found that there is a pretty drastic disparity between that and the West Coast where I don't think the fans--because there are a lot of people and a lot of different things going on--were not near as honed into their football team as they are here in the South."

Borges also notes that the Auburn fans he has met aren't just a knowledgeable bunch, but they are also very good people to be around. "Basically the mentality of the South has really, really been a breath of fresh air," Borges tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "The people are wonderful. I mean there are a lot of very friendly people who have been ingratiating.

"I know how this job is though. I have got one of those jobs where you have got to produce or friendly people get unfriendly sometimes. But, as much as that is, I still think that I would rather be in an environment where people care rather than an apathetic environment because you know that you are going to get the support it takes to win."

The coach also adds that the football mania in the South has made him almost giddy about the upcoming season. "I have heard so much about the game atmosphere here, particularly for SEC teams, and I am really looking forward to the season as much as I have ever looked forward to a football season in my life. I just can't wait."

He also notes that after seeing a little bit of what his players are capable of on offense throughout the spring he is certainly ready to get things started. "We are not, probably, the most talented team in the country, but we certainly have enough weapons where, I think, if you do a good job of coaching it can make a difference. You know, sometimes if you don't have the players it doesn't matter how good of a job of coaching you are doing it doesn't make a difference. I think we have a chance here."

Al Borges checks out the offense during spring practice.

All in all, Borges says that he couldn't think of a much better situation for a coach like himself. "Really, when push comes to shove what have you got to complain about," he says. "You have got, really, what you want. You have got these beautiful facilities. You have got great people, who are really supportive, pretty good athletes and people show up to the games."

Since being named the offensive coordinator just prior to the start of spring football practice, Borges has been busy installing his new offensive system, getting acquainted with the Tigers' staff and also getting settled in to a whole new life in Auburn. "I am moved in," he says. "My next deal is that I have got to help my wife find some work because she had a good job back in Indiana.

"She is all moved in," he adds about his wife Nikki, who stayed in Bloomington in the spring before heading south to join her husband. "She is here and everything is pretty well in place that way. We are pretty settled. We have got a house that we really, really like."

Currently, Borges says he is enjoying one of the least stressful times of year for a big-time college coach. "Right now we are in football camps," he explains. "We can't really coach the kids (Auburn players), so they are doing a lot of the stuff on their own, which is good. But, it is kind of the calm before the storm. We will go on vacation here shortly and I can't wait. We are going to Naples, Florida."

The coach explains that a trip to the Florida cost will be a new adventure for himself and his wife. "For six years in a row we went to Maui in Hawaii, but because it is just so far you would spend half of your time traveling so we didn't want to go this year," Borges says. "We wanted to go, but it was just too far. The Atlantic coast is a lot closer than the Pacific coast so we are going to do that."

Following his vacation, Borges says that he will be getting right back to work in the new place he has grown quite fond of already. "The one thing that jumps out at me after leaving Bloomington, Indiana is the weather," he says about his favorite things outside of football in Auburn. "The weather here has been pretty good. I know it is going to get humid because it got humid there too, but there are more nice days.

"I also like the college atmosphere of the town itself--this is obviously a town that caters to the university and people love it," he adds. "Everywhere you look somebody has got some type of Auburn paraphernalia on. So, you know that the town is the university and the university is the town and I love that. I think that is really cool.

"Also, I think it is pretty. I think, aesthetically that if you look around and I am not just talking about our athletic facilities. I think the whole town is kind of nice town in general. It is quaint. It is pretty well kept and people have done a good job of taking care of it."

However, true to form for a football junkie at heart, Borges explains that life in this city has only been a wonderful extra gift to the real draw of Auburn for a football coach.

"I have lived in the biggest cities and I have lived in the smallest towns," Borges says, "It is amazing. I don't really care that much about the size of the town as much as I care about how important football is to the people there and how much of a chance they are going to give you to win. A good football experience for a football coach is a good experience and it doesn't really matter where it is. I have learned that if I have learned anything. It could be a town of 20,000 or a town of 10 million."


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