Al Borges’ book, Citizen of Salinas, relives Auburn’s undefeated season of 2004 – Monterey Herald


Ann Arbor — Alborges’ return to Auburn University last season for the first time in 18 years came at the behest of his son, who wanted to see the campus as a potential college destination.

Despite all the flashbacks to the former Tigers offensive coordinator, the 1973 North Salinas High School graduate’s reception when he took his son to the Iron Bowl was overwhelming.

He remains a prominent figure among a generation of fans, and memories during his four-year tenure from 2004-2007 have left Borges sentimental and devotional.

He also revived ideas in the magical 2004 season, in which the Tigers scored 13-0 and won the Southeast Conference title, yet were not selected to play in the National Championship.

She lit a torch in Borges to articulate his feelings for the 2004 team in words – an unfettered account of the season from a coach’s point of view in a book.

“When I talked about writing a book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through with the process,” Borges said. “But as soon as she started, she started writing herself. It was an incredible tour and didn’t provide the proper ending.”

Borges, who retired in 2018 from coaching and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, started “Deny of the Tiger” two weeks ago at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, climbing the charts.

“The book was written as a coach,” Borges said. “It’s not colourful. I told the publisher I wanted it to be narrated like that. It’s frank. I wanted to feel my feelings. I wanted readers to feel the emotions I’ve felt throughout that season.”

Four teams were unbeaten in college football in the 2004 season, with Auburn joining Utah, USC and Oklahoma.

With no playoff system in place at the time, USC and Oklahoma were selected to play in the national championship at the Superdome in New Orleans because they had been the #1 and #2 ranked teams all season.

“I had written the book and then I looked at all the DVDs from that season and remembered a lot of things,” Borges said. “I actually went back and added more material. We fought to the end.”

Borges’ book takes readers between the white streaks, relieving one season from the coach’s point of view in which Auburn beat five nationally ranked teams, including Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

“For me, memories are beautiful,” said Borges. “I literally had a chance to relive the season with the book with the twists. I watched every match, how we planned the game.”

Borges, whose coaching career began at the age of 19 under Mike Welch at Salinas, took the memories of the 2004 season and poured all his heart into the book, in detail only a coach can provide.

“Being from Salinas, the distance from Auburn is in some ways miles,” Borges said. There is an amazing cultural change. That was my first year there. I had to learn to adapt to these kids and that culture.”

Auburn, who finished season No. 2 in the nation after USC beat Oklahoma in the title match, beat LSU, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama in 2004.

“What I hope my readers will come up with is that we are definitely the best team in the country,” Borges said. “We definitely deserve to have the opportunity to prove it.”

Borges’ four-decade career as an offensive coordinator has included five Portland State titles, 13 wins at Boise State, Cotton Bowl appearances in Oregon, and 20 straight UCLA victories.

“I have so many wonderful memories,” Borges said. “This was just the best team I ever coached and unforgettable. We were not defeated and denied a shot in the National Championship.”

In 2014, a four-team playoff system for college football was established.

“Some feel that our team is the reason why there is a play-off for the university now,” Borges said.

A former high-profile player in two sports in northern Salinas, Borges credits the sport for keeping him out of trouble, and was offensive coordinator on 12 stops during a 43-year career. However, the only job that escaped most likely changed his directional trajectory.

“I remember applying for King City in 1981,” Borges said. “I wanted it so bad. I wear a suit. I didn’t understand. If I had been hired, I would have stayed in high school football forever.”

Instead, Borges got a chance to be part of Cal’s coaching staff in 1982, as his career took off over the next four decades.

“My uncle Tony Teresa knew Joe Cap when he was at Cal,” Borges said. “He made a call and I put my foot in the door. I remember Ron Rivera training at Cal. I was there for the ‘play’ with the band in the field against Stanford.”

This wasn’t Borges’ first published book, as he wrote a book on West Coast crime in 2000 when he was in Cal.

“It was more about coaching the West Coast team and the midfielders,” Burgess said. “He was more than just a guide. This was an opportunity to share my experiences and tell a story about a great season.”

Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox talks to offensive coordinator Al Borges, right, during the spring game in Auburn, Ala.  , on March 18, 2006. Back coach Eddie Gran, left.  (AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst)
Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox talks to offensive coordinator Al Borges, right, during the spring game in Auburn, Ala. , on March 18, 2006. Back coach Eddie Gran, left. (AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst)

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