Michigan Hires Alabama OC; Tide To Interview Kiffin
As the great Ron Burgandy once said, "That escalated quickly."
Struggling head coaches often turn their coordinators into personal body guards (see: Whittingham, Kyle or Muschamp, Will). The next move, though, always includes two choices: Win more games or lose your own job.
In another reminder of how fast football teams can decay, Michigan's Brady Hoke arrived at this juncture this week, firing offensive coordinator Al Borges and hiring Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, committing to make him one of the five highest-paid assistant head coaches in the country, CBS Sports reported.
Nussmeier has built his reputation by developing quarterbacks, having worked with Jake Locker and Keith Price (Washington), Marc Bulger (St. Louis) and AJ McCarron (Alabama). The Crimson Tide, not known to produce Baylor type numbers on offense, were among the nation's leaders in yards per play in Nussmeier's tenure. The Wolverines hope he can turn around a unit that ranked 87th in yards per game and 102nd in rushing yards in 2013.
Meanwhile, the move escalates the already-healthy pressure on Hoke in 2014. After an 11-2 record in 2011, his first season in Ann Arbor, Hoke and the Wolverines slipped to 8-5 and then 7-6, vastly undershooting expectations last season. Athletic but inconsistent quarterback Devin Gardner returns for his senior season and should be the starter after touted freshman Shane Morris languished in the team's bowl game.
Nussmeier's trip North leaves a vacancy at Alabama, and already reports have surfaced that coach Nick Saban and the Tide will interview Lane Kiffin for the offensive coordinator position.
Kiffin, of course, has been a head coach for the Oakland Raiders (2007-08), Tennessee Volunteers (2009) and USC Trojans (2010-13). Most recently, interim coach Ed Orgeron, a flameout at Ole Miss, did a much better job with the Trojans players than Kiffin after the latter got fired.
Saban hosted Kiffin in Tuscaloosa in December to exchange ideas, a common practice among coaches in the offseason, creating a firestorm reaction among Tide fans. Kiffin's pro-style offense meshes well with Saban's teams historically, though Saban has said he wants to implement more up-tempo stuff to pressure opposing defenses.