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Posted on Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

DC Greg Mattison to finish his career at Michigan, OC Al Borges could do same

By Kyle Meinke


Coordinator Greg Mattison, the architect of Michigan's revamped defense, says he will finish his long career in football with the Wolverines.

Melanie Maxwell |

College football coaches put in hours that would make heads of state blush. And yet, given a few days off last month to vacation at his lakehouse on the state's west side, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison couldn't help himself.

He cut his holiday a few days short to return to his Schembechler Hall office early -- even though he knew he would be relegated to watching film, since he can't yet work with players.

And that's how he knows he's still got it.

Mattison said in a recent interview he plans to coach at least a few more years. At 62 years old, though, he also knows he's in the twilight of his career.

He acknowledged what many already believed: His career will end at Michigan.

"The good thing that happens when you're older and you've been a lot of places is, a lot of (coaches) want to win so they can move on," Mattison said. "Me? Hey, this is my last stop. I just want to win because it's Michigan."

Mattison is one-half of a coordinating tandem that has been heavily lauded for its work in Year 1 of the Brady Hoke era. But the other half, offensive coordinator Al Borges, is younger than Mattison and could have more opportunities before him.

The 56-year-old reportedly garnered interest from other schools this past offseason. Borges would neither confirm nor deny whether he received an offer, but did say he has given up his head coaching aspirations and is happy with his post at Michigan.


Offensive coordinator Al Borges, left, has been applauded for his ability to bend his philosophies to fit what quarterback Denard Robinson does best.

Melanie Maxwell |


Join Michigan beat writers Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Thursday for a pre-fall camp live chat. Come with questions about preseason camp, season expectations, and any other burning Michigan football topic. The chat will begin at noon.
"Now that I'm here, not really -- not like I did 10, 15 years ago," Borges said in a recent interview when asked if he still hoped to be a head coach. "I never say never, but by the same token, I don't go looking for them. Used to be I did, but I'm done hunting down head coaching jobs. I'm in a place where I'm very happy and I just want to make this job the best job I can make it.

"This is a great place to coach and to be, and for someone to leave here, you better be able to justify it. And I just don't see any scenarios that could justify me leaving the University of Michigan."

Hoke kept his staff intact after Michigan's highly successful 11-2 season, and it appears the guys at the top are in it for the long haul.

Mattison is entering his 36th season as a football assistant, a career that spans 15 jobs with 10 teams. He started as a graduate assistant at Illinois, then worked his way up to defensive coordinator posts at Notre Dame, Florida and twice at Michigan.

He also spent three seasons with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens before leaving last year for his current position with the Wolverines.

Mattison's work was cut out for him, after Michigan posted the worst defensive season in school history in 2010. But he proved to be the right man for the job.

The Wolverines allowed a scant 17.4 points per game, sixth fewest in the country, only a season after allowing 35.2 with the same core players. That resurgence was instrumental to the team's Sugar Bowl run.

"That's why I'm still here -- because I know how important it is for 'Michigan Men' to win," Mattison said. "That's what made this last year so special, for Mike Martin and Ryan (Van Bergen) and all those guys to be able to walk into a restaurant and everybody go, 'Wow.' If they wouldn't have won, it would have been bad because they would have been here four years and not had that, and that's not Michigan.

"That's the same thing that's going to be with this next group. Are you good enough to keep that thing going? That's why I coach."

Mattison did not provide a timetable for when he would step away from the game for good, but said he plans to continue coaching as long as his health holds up.

He already has had his left knee replaced, and now needs to have the right one replaced. Other than that, though, he says his health is good.

Mattison has lost 25 pounds this offseason in an effort to keep going. He rides a stationary bike daily at Schembechler Hall.

He's not yet ready to sail off into the sunset.

"At first, I thought I might do this for a few years," he said. "But after this last season ... my wife, she said it me, 'What else are you going to do? You are going to go golfing for about two weeks, and then you're going to go crazy.'

"'I said, 'You're right. I'm going to coach, as long as my health holds up, and as long as they want me, and as long as I can still keep doing the job.' "

Borges had similar success last year, when there were questions entering the season regarding how well his West Coast offense would mesh with dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson.

The pairing proved to be a fruitful one, though, as Michigan culled together its best offensive season since 2003. It scored 33.3 points per game, 0.5 more than in 2010.

Borges received a lot of credit for bending his offense to suit the personnel. That, along with his more youthful age, led to his name being circulated for coaching vacancies.

Instead, he signed a new contract this offseason that is worth $650,000 annually, an 86-percent raise that makes him the third-highest-paid assistant in the Big Ten (not counting Northwestern and Penn State, which don't have to disclose financials).

That should help to keep Borges at Michigan for the foreseeable future.

He said he can't make a declaration such as Mattison's to stay with the Wolverines for the rest of his career, but did say he would be happy if his career ended that way.

"I would ride off into the sunset very happily if my last job was at the University of Michigan, without any real reservations about anything," Borges said.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

I liked RR! He should have been given a few more years! I can hardly wait until Michigan BEATS Bama in a few weeks! This game will show everyone that the Big M is back! and deserved their BCS game

Blue Marker

Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

When RR brought in Scott Shafer for one year and then fired him then Shafer goes to Syracuse and has success I realized it was a problem within the coaching staff itself. I though modernizing Michigan football was a good idea too. Looking at all the spread-type teams winning I thought it was time Michigan did the same. Turns out you can win with any style as long as you have the right coach.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

Sorry, I meant 2008. And don't get me wrong, I liked RR coming and looked forward to a different offensive strategy than Carr's. But the train derailed, (and for a lot of externall reasons also, ie; Michigan Mafia).


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

After posting 3 wins in 2007, he had nowhere to go but up!


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.

Actually, the statistics show that after basically gutting the team and starting over in 2008 he consistently improved each year as a team. You can talk about the defense all you want, but the team as a whole improved its win total each year.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

RR did not have a clue about defense, and his Defensive Coordinators didn't either. He did not deserve more years; Greg Mattison proved how bad RR and his defensive coaches were. No one misses RR and his type of overall football - He could not consistenetly score more points against good defenses that Michigan saw; the statiisics prove it in each of his 3 lousy years in charge of the team.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

GM did a heck of a job last year with the defense. He took a 108th ranked D and turned it into a top 10 -15th ranked D. Worth every penny, glad to have him end his career with M. But sorry Kyle, AB's success was nothing similar to GM's. AB inherited a top 10 offense, returning ( now upperclassmen ) all but 1 ( Stonum ) starting playmakers including the NCAA's #1 dual-threat QB, and a healthy Fitz. The only thing that improved was the points/game, and that wasn't due to AB's scheme but DR and JH, schedule, and a little luck. Not trying to be rude, but AB did nothing to improve the offense. Not even close to what GM did with the D.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

So who would you like better for OC and could you actually get them to come to Michigan?


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 4:13 a.m.

AzWolverine's statements are so absurd I won't even bother to point out the spin he's putting on the numbers. But Al Borges has taken over somebody else's players and done very well with them before (Auburn 2004). Unfortunately, he went downhill fast over the next few years until he and the rest of the coaching staff were let go. So excuse me if I withhold judgement until I see what he can do with his own recruits and with his own offense.


Fri, Aug 3, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

Tally, I respectfully disagree. AB improved the offense greatly. Whereas UM was able to rack up 65 points against the Bowling Green's of the world under the previous staff, they stalled miserably against the top Big 10 teams, punctuated by 24 points TOTAL in 3 years against OSU. Under the previous staff, Denard was the ONLY offensive weapon. Not only did it lead to injury, it lead to Michigan being ineffective against good teams. See Miss State's quotes BEFORE the bowl game, wherein they said all they had to do was stop Denard to stop Michigan...and then they went out and did it!!! Easily! Under Borges, UM's offense is FAR MORE DIVERSE and dangerous. The TE and RB's are used as weapons in addition to Denard, making the offense much harder to stop. Not only that, UM is able to pound the ball for tough yards, which they were completely unable to do under RR, and they are able to control the clock to keep the defense off the field (which is a BIG help to the defense and contributed greatly to the improvement on defense). This season, Michigan improved as the B10 season wore on, and they were able to rack up 45 and 40 points against arguably the best defenses they faced in Nebraska and OSU. That is BIG TIME IMPROVEMENT! I agree with you completely that Mattison is worth every penny he earned. I disagree with you on Borges' worth: he's also worth every penny...and I'm glad Brandon saw it my way and gave him a huge raise.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Hailmary, my comment was about LAST years success of the coaches. Kyle wrote, " Borges had similar success last year ", referring to the success GM had. Sorry, but the fact is AB wasn't on the same page as GM, GM's success was unmatched by any coach. THERE IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THE TWO...NONE!!!


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Tally be patient, Al inherited a different type of player from RR than Al is going to implement into his type of system, W. coast. The guy did pretty good having to use a mixed bag of tricks to implement both styles.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Bo, Mo and Carr always had coaching staffs that were there for the kids and wanted to be at Michigan; Coach Hoke, with Al Borges, Greg Mattison and their assistants are continuing this great tradition. It is nice to see coaches who want to be at Michigan, and are not looking for another opportunity. Michigan will not win every game every football season, but these coaches will represent the University of Michigan very well; all UofM alumni should be proud to have these men working for Michigan.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

If Mattison stays three years we will win a national championship. He as much (or more) than anyone is responsible for the turnaround. Al should be grateful for the huge pay raise he was given and the honor of coaching at Michigan under a guy like Hoke and with a gentleman like Mattison. So glad to hear Mattison has lost weight. if you don't have your health than nothing else matters. it looks like Hoke has slimmed down too- I hope so. Al should as well for himself and his family. Go Blue.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

This is one of the more refreshing articles I've read here in a while. And one of the more refreshing aspects of this article is what is actually not included - reference to how long Hoke will be around. We all know Hoke will also be here for the long haul. It goes without saying. Which testifies to what a special head coach we have and also why it can be beneficial to have a 'Michigan Man' at the helm - someone who inherently loves Michigan and inspires that in those around him.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Now I see that was RR's problem when he came to UM. He was using UM as a stepping stone to get to Arizona. That must have been why he chalked up 3 wins in his first season instead of 11.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Best wishes and support to Coach Mattison. His motive would be to see how his own players will do on defense during their careers at Michigan and if they can be as smothering as they were in 1997-98.

Robert Granville

Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Best news of the summer.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Although most probably felt that given Coach Mattison's success and family connection in Ann Arbor that he would be at Michigan for a while, it's nice to hear it from the man himself. He brings the type of defenders Michigan needs to excel on that side of the ball. Players who show they might have what it takes to go to the next level after college understand that Coach Mattison has been there and can help them to maybe get there themselves. Coach Borges doesn't have that in his background but he has a good football resume and has proven he will work with his player's skills to maximize the offense's output. And, he get to use the fact that his players will be going up against a defense whose coordinator once successfully coached in the pro ranks. That's called a win-win situation and it's going to be around as long as they remain successful. Things look good for the future of Michigan football. TiM Go Blue


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Based on what Mattison and Hoke were able to do with last year's D, the longer these two are coaching together, the better it is for UofM, and the better it is for the B1G.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

"...And I just don't see any scenarios that could justify me leaving the University of Michigan." That's faux-commitment speech. I'm betting Borges will be taking a head coaching position in a season or two, depending on how well Michigan performs.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

He's been a coordinator for 25 years. I don't think he wants to be a head coach. But you're right, he could leave and/or be fired, that's for sure. It's not like he's ever stayed anywhere for long.


Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Most of the head coaching jobs that would be available to a first time head coach wouldn't pay Borges what he's making at Michigan. He's here for awhile, hopefully.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

(Typo at start of paragraph 10 or 11(Hoke)

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Nick, go ahead and delete this. Eveybudy make typso!

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 2, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

Thanks, Blu -- It's been fixed.