Auburn Family News: AL.com All-Access: What hiring Al Borges as an Auburn analyst says about Gus Malzahn

Thursday, April 13, 2017

AL.com All-Access: What hiring Al Borges as an Auburn analyst says about Gus Malzahn


Remember Gus Malzahn?

Remember the coach who was so set in his ways and married to his system that he refused to allow the common industry practice of outsiders working with his quarterbacks when they weren't on campus?

Whatever happened to that guy? He can't still be the head coach at Auburn because the head coach at Auburn is doing all kinds of interesting things this off-season.

He replaced protege Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator with Chip Lindsey, he rescinded his ban on private quarterback coaches and now comes perhaps the most un-Gus move of all.

The latest sign that Malzahn isn't the same coach who came back to the Plains to be the boss is the return of another successful former offensive coordinator to the operation. Al Borges is joining the staff as an analyst, and you can hear every Auburn fan born before 2004 applauding the move.

Borges, of course, arrived that year and engineered a juggernaut that was at the heart of the undefeated '04 season. He unlocked the potential of quarterback Jason Campbell, who became a first-round NFL draft pick along with running backs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams.

Through a combination of his performance and his infectious personality, Borges also helped erase the bad memories of the Nallsminger attack, Tommy Tuberville's ill-conceived amalgamation of Hugh Nall and Steve Ensminger as co-coordinators.

The Auburn offense continued to be pretty sporty when Brandon Cox took over for Campbell, at least until defenses turned the courageous Cox into a pinata. The Tigers went 41-9 with Borges calling plays, but his four-year tenure ended with another Tuberville idea that backfired, going to the spread and replacing Borges with Tony Franklin.

But enough about memory lane.

Of more immediate interest to the Auburn family should be the current head coach's willingness to open his mind and his staff to new ideas, demonstrating that perhaps he doesn't think he knows it all when it comes to offensive football.

Borges and Malzahn couldn't be more different in philosophy and personality. Borges is a disciple of the West Coast offense, not the Hurry Up No Huddle. Borges is open, engaging and gregarious, and just one of his trademark Hawaiian shirts is louder than Malzahn's entire wardrobe.

If Malzahn is willing to welcome a popular former coach to the staff, and not for recruiting purposes because that was never Borges' strong suit, it indicates that the head coach has become more open to different points of view. It's a sign of maturity for a coach who's still young in terms of service in that position at this level.

It remains to be seen how it'll all work and if Borges will be a candidate for the 10th on-field assistant coaching position the NCAA may be about to approve. Having a quarterback whisperer dedicated to that position alone while Lindsey coordinates the offense might not be a bad idea.

In any case, there's no question that Borges knows offensive football and he loves Auburn. Auburn fans should love having him back on the Plains on its own merits and for what it says about Malzahn.



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