ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has made a bold move to give its football program a boost.
The Wolverines hired Doug Nussmeier away from Nick Saban and Alabama to be Brady Hoke’s offensive coordinator.
“Doug is a highly respected offensive coordinator and has earned a reputation as being a great mentor to quarterbacks, specifically, where he’s coached Pro Bowlers, top NFL draft choices and Heisman trophy finalists,” Hoke said in a statement Thursday. “Doug has been successful at every coaching stop with his balanced and explosive offenses, and he brings national championship experience.”
Alabama hired Nussmeier nearly two years ago to be Saban’s offensive coordinator after he directed the Washington Huskies’ offense the previous three seasons. Nussmeier also spent one season as offensive coordinator at Fresno State and had stints as quarterbacks coach with Michigan State and the St. Louis Rams. He was a candidate to become Washington’s head coach before the school hired Chris Petersen.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished in two seasons at Alabama, and I owe a great deal to Coach Saban for that opportunity,” Nussmeier said in a statement. “Michigan is a program I’ve always had deep respect for, and I’m looking forward to getting started in Ann Arbor and being a part of the great tradition there.”
Michigan fired offensive coordinator Al Borges on Wednesday after the Wolverines ranked 86th in the nation in total offense and flopped to a 7-6 finish. Borges was one of several assistants who came with Hoke in 2011 from his staff at San Diego State.
Nussmeier made $680,000 last season in the second of his three-year deal at Alabama after getting a $90,000 raise last April.
He’ll likely make even more at Michigan.
Nussmeier will probably provide a return on the investment if he can turn around an offense led by returning quarterback Devin Gardner.
The Wolverines scored 41 points in both a win over Notre Dame and a near-upset against Ohio State, but their offensive line was overmatched in losses to Michigan State and Nebraska. They had minus-48 yards rushing — a school record — against the Spartans and minus-21 yards rushing against the Cornhuskers.
Michigan ranked last in major college football by giving up 114 tackles for losses.
“I think this is a good move for him because at Alabama, he would never get the credit he’s due because everybody thinks you should have always success there because of all the talent,” Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, who was coached by Nussmeier at Michigan State, said in a telephone interview. “At Michigan, they’ve had an identity crisis on offense and he can help them out a ton with that and it can help him become a head coach soon.
“I’ve kept in touch with him over the years and it’s going to make it harder for me to root against Michigan.”
Nussmeier was nominated last season for the Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in college football.
In his first year with the Crimson Tide, he helped them win a national championship with one of its best seasons offensively. Alabama set school records in 2012 with 68 touchdowns and 6,237 yards of offense. Last season, the AJ McCarron-led offense ranked seventh in pass efficiency and 17th in scoring offense while averaging 200-plus yards rushing and passing.
“Doug did an outstanding job for us during his time at the University of Alabama and I’m sure he will do a great job at the University of Michigan,” Saban said in a statement. “He is a bright coach who works hard and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to work each and every day.”
At Washington, Nussmeier helped develop quarterback Jake Locker, who was taken No. 8 overall in the 2011 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He was the Rams’ quarterbacks coach when Marc Bulger earned a spot in the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season. And with the Spartans, he helped Stanton and Jeff Smoker set school records.
“Everything he does is impressive,” Stanton said. “He cares about kids and wants them to get their education. He works with them at their craft, demanding respect and asking a lot of them and you want to give him everything you have because you love playing for him.”
Alabama eyeing Kiffin
Former Southern California coach Lane Kiffin is being considered by Alabama to replace Nussmeier, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person says there is mutual interest between Kiffin and Saban. Kiffin has been out of work since being fired by USC in late September. He spent a week in Tuscaloosa, Ala., last month exchanging ideas with Tide coaches and observing Alabama.
Kiffin runs a pro-style offense that Saban favors.
The 38-year-old was 28-15 in three-plus seasons with USC. He was also head coach at Tennessee and for the Oakland Raiders.
CBSSports.com first reported Kiffin was to meet with Alabama this week about the job.
Kiffin spent six seasons (2001-06) at USC under Pete Carroll as an assistant, including the final two as offensive coordinator. He also called plays during his time as a head coach. He spent one season at Tennessee (2009). He went 7-6 before leaving to replace Carroll with the Trojans and Tennessee fans were outraged by abrupt departure. Alabama plays Tennessee every October.