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Notebook: There will be no coaching staff changes, Hoke says

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Zach Helfand, Daily Sports Editor
Published December 2, 2013

A little before 5 p.m. Saturday, Al Borges emerged from the Junge Family Champions Center adjoining Michigan Stadium, toting a suitcase on wheels. His offense just had likely its best performance of the year in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Ohio State. His game plan and play calling had been immaculate.

Dressed in a suit, he walked through the parking lot and away from the stadium. Many wondered if he would return there again, at least as Michigan’s offensive coordinator.

On Monday, Michigan coach Brady Hoke seemed to provide the answer.

“I anticipate the staff (returning),” Hoke told reporters after an event at Detroit’s Ford Field, according to multiple reports. Asked to clarify if that meant no coaching changes, Hoke said that is “correct.”

Under Borges this season, Michigan’s offense sputtered often, especially on the ground. The running game was second to last in the Big Ten. It rushed for negative yardage in back-to-back games. A young offensive line surrendered sacks by the dozen that left redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner hobbled at the end of games. That has led to speculation that Hoke or Athletic Director Dave Brandon could make a change.

Last week, after rumors questioning Hoke’s job security caused star recruit Jabrill Peppers to re-open his recruitment, Brandon issued a statement of support for Hoke. He also mentioned defensive coordinator Greg Mattison by name. Borges, though, was absent.

“The transformation and improvement of our defense under the leadership of coach Greg Mattison has been outstanding,” Brandon wrote. “Our coaches have worked hard to blend and develop schemes that bridge the gap between what was previously done and what they ultimately hope to run on both sides of the ball.”

Hoke will evaluate his personnel and staff at some point before Michigan’s bowl game or in the offseason. Brandon has said he will do the same.

But when asked whether the coaching staff decision was a “we’ll-see situation,” Hoke replied, “No.”

BIG TEN AWARDS: Turns out, the Big Ten voters had just as much trouble figuring out whether sophomore Devin Funchess is a tight end or wide receiver as opposing defenses did.

Funchess won the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award and was named an All-Big Ten selection by the media. The coaches, though, put him on the second team, behind Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz. Funchess had 47 receptions for 727 yards and six touchdowns. Fiedorowicz had 26 receptions for 253 yards and six touchdowns. It is likely he suffered from the confusion over his position.

Funchess was one of several Wolverines to earn postseason honors. Fifth-year senior tackle Taylor Lewan also won an individual award, the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was a consensus All-Big Ten selection.

Fifth-year senior Jeremy Gallon was named to the second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media, behind Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis and Penn State’s Allen Robinson.

Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner and fifth-year senior kicker Brendan Gibbons were honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media.

On defense, redshirt sophomore Blake Countess was an All-Big Ten selection by the media and a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches.

Junior defensive end Frank Clark was named to the second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches. Clark, senior defensive tackle Jibreel Black and junior cornerback Raymon Taylor received an honorable mention by the media.

NOTES: After the event at Ford Field, Hoke said Gardner will return next year. … The Big Ten conference won’t suspend Ohio State starting right guard Marcus Hall, the conference said in a statement. Hall, and an additional player from each team, was ejected from the game against Michigan on Saturday. As he left the field, he threw his helmet, kicked a bench and held up middle fingers to the crowd. “The officials and coaching staffs from both institutions did a good job of containing the situation once it started,” the statement said.