Miami Hired Al Golden
While coming up with any sort of success at Temple, much less turning one of the nation’s most miserable programs into a winner, is worthy of praise and respect, there’s one teeny, tiny little issue here.
Al Golden didn’t actually win anything, and Miami wants a Point B to Point C guy.
Once Golden did the job of recruiting well, mostly by putting a fence around the greater Philadelphia metropolitan era, Temple got to the point where it wasn’t a doormat anymore. While that was great, as Buffalo, Central Michigan, Akron, and in a one-year turnaround, Miami University, proved, it was possible to go from being miserable to a MAC champion, and Golden didn’t finish the job.
Temple going from miserable to decent was a story in 2008, but in 2009, Golden had a team good enough to win the MAC title with, or at least the East. With the chance to play for the championship, it lost at Ohio 35-17.
This year, Northern Illinois (speaking of not getting the job done) was the MAC’s best team, but Temple was the clear No. 2. The program, and Golden, failed late in the year losing at home to Ohio when the running game and the run defense mysteriously went bye-bye in the sloppy conditions. That loss ended up costing the Owls the MAC East title; the puzzling, dead-team-walking, 23-3 loss to Miami University ended up costing the 8-4 team a bowl invite.
Yeah, Golden’s Temple program recorded the largest academic turnaround in the APR reform era, and yeah, Miami cares about the classroom with a fantastic APR under Shannon. Last May, when the reports came out, Miami’s program was the only one in the BCS that finished in the top ten percent academically and finished the 2009 season ranked in both the USA Today and AP polls. Shannon really was getting it done both on and off the field, but he didn’t make Miami, Miami, and for that he was fired.
So now Miami has two problems. The first is that Golden hasn’t closed, going 7-12 at Temple in November and December and with no appearances in the MAC Championship, and two, this isn’t the 1980s.
Florida is the top dog on the Sunshine State, Florida State is reloading, South Florida is starting to become a factor, UCF won the Conference USA title, and even Florida International and Florida Atlantic will battle for some of the local Miami talents. Throw in the national powerhouses always coming in and picking off players, and the Canes’ expectations are unrealistic.
Does Miami want to go back to the Luther Campbell days? Is it looking for the days of being Da U, and all the negative connotations that came with that? Unless Golden can bring in the NFL talent right away, and not just the very good college players, Miami is going to be disappointed that it’s nowhere near the bright, shining superpower it used to be.
Golden is taking his talents to South Beach, but this will only work if he brings more big-time talents to Coral Gables.
This is an outstanding pick-up for Miami, but a real head-scratcher from Al Golden’s perspective.
Don’t kid yourself about the Hurricanes. It’s one of the worst high-profile jobs in America. The school doesn’t pay that well, the bar is set higher than it should be, and local support ebbs and flows. When the program isn’t on top, it struggles to fill the stadium, which doesn’t happen at a lot of brand name schools. While it’s an obvious promotion from Temple, it’s not as if Golden hasn’t had other opportunities in the past. Nor will they stop coming in the future. He’s one of the hotter young coaches in America, doing the impossible by turning the Owls into a winner. Why now? Why not pursue the Pitt job or wait another year to see if JoePa retires in Happy Valley? Maybe missing a bowl game with an 8-4 record left a mark on the coach. Or maybe he felt that another bowl-less campaign would wash the bloom off his rose. It’s hard to imagine, though, that this was the opening he’d been holding out for over the past couple of seasons.
Miami landed a terrific coach, one of the rising stars in the profession. Golden, on the other hand, is taking on a lot of risk with this career move. It’s been a while since the U was one of the more coveted openings in college football.
By Matt Zemek
College football blogger Mark Ennis put the matter in perspective: When Miami found its coach on Sunday afternoon, the four major-conference Florida schools completed an unthinkable sea-change in the span of just 12.5 months.
On November 30, 2009, Bobby Bowden had not yet announced his retirement from coaching at Florida State. Urban Meyer had not yet disclosed the health reasons that would, in a year’s time, lead him to step down at Florida. Jim Leavitt hadn’t yet been taken down by his punch toward a South Florida player. Randy Shannon was finishing a steppingstone-type season at The U before his make-or-break 2010 campaign. Now, all four men are gone, with Meyer officially leaving his post once the Outback Bowl ends on the first afternoon of 2011.
Miami has always faced instability in its big chair of responsibility, but it’s still astonishing to contemplate the fact that one college football cycle – one period of just over 12 months – has cleaned out the four coaches at the big programs in the Sunshine State. Florida and Florida State used to be synonymous with single coaches. Leavitt had been the only program South Florida had ever known. Now, it’s a whole new world in Florida. What once was Saint Bobby, Urban, Leavitt and Shannon (and used to be Saint Bobby, Steve Spurrier, Leavitt and Butch Davis roughly a decade ago) is now Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp, Skip Holtz, and Al Golden, the just-named boss of The U.
It gives one pause.
It’s not much of a secret that Golden had designs on being Joe Paterno’s successor at Penn State, so it’s the height of coincidence that one day after Will Muschamp could no longer wait to succeed Mack Brown at Texas, Golden clearly felt that he could no longer try to wait out JoePa for the big gig in Happy Valley. Offered the job by Paterno’s rival, the Pittsburgh Panthers, Golden instead opted for Coral Gables, where one wonders if he’ll sport a shirt and tie on steamy, sultry early-September Saturdays. More important than that, the college football cognoscenti are wondering if Golden can and will bring in the linemen and the physical, boss-you-around hammer-wielders in the trenches that can make Miami great again. The Hurricanes became great in past decades not just because of skill-position sizzle and flashy on-the-edges playmakers, but because of up-front anchors who could make life easier for both offensive and defensive backfields. If Golden can marry bonecrushing brawn with breathtaking speed, he can awaken The U and make the Canes relevant once more.
No one knows how it will all work out, and maybe Golden will bolt for University Park, Pennsylvania, if Paterno does hang up the whistle, but the initial sense is that Miami found a very good coach.
This is certainly a lot better than Marc Trestman, that’s for sure.