Al Golden is staying at Miami, despite reports he was a leading candidate to fill Bret Bielema’s vacancy at Wisconsin. So reports intrepid Sports Illustrated college football beat writer Pete Thamel, who tweeted that Golden was “flattered,” though he will not take the job.
Just got word that Al Golden is flattered by Alvarez’s interest but staying at Miami.
— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) December 13, 2012
Golden’s name is continuously mentioned in coaching searches. This year, he was a rumored candidate for Boston College, Tennessee, Arkansas and Wisconsin’s open head coaching positions. Message boards and Uncle Luke were all ready to for Golden to take his talents (and his tie) away from South Beach. And yet, he spurned them all.
Who could really blame Golden if he accepted another job, just two years into his tenure at Miami? The Miami rebuilding project is a cumbersome one. The steady decline in quality during Larry Coker’s tenure, extending into Randy Shannon’s is the least of Golden’s challenges. Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson broke his expose on years of widespread malfeasance, with convicted Ponzi scheme conspirator Nevin Shapiro at its epicenter.
The report led to multiple suspensions for the 2011 season, all before Golden every had the opportunity to coach a single game at The U. Had the severity of possible NCAA sanctions been more evident in December 2010, perhaps Golden doesn’t leave Temple for Miami.
But he is at Miami. And Golden is seemingly in it for the long haul. Though his record in two seasons heading the Hurricanes is a pedestrian 13-11, the 2012 version featured numerous young players in prominent roles. Golden’s recruiting class last season included 33 signees, and checked in at No. 9 in Rivals.com’s rankings.
Golden’s proven his ability to build a program. Temple typified football futility when Golden took over, but his aggressive recruiting of Philadelphia area talent laid a foundation for three straight winning seasons.
That focus on local prep talent is perfectly suited to returning Miami to its past greatness, but the uncertainty the NCAA’s looming presence brings casts a long shadow over sunny South Beach.
The NCAA’s investigation has gone painfully slow, approaching the status of witch hunt. Robinson extended his damning reports beyond the Coker-Shannon years and into Golden’s tenure, when Yahoo! published a report last summer connecting the new staff to equipment manager Sean Allen. Golden dismissed the report, as did the father and coach of two of the recruits allegedly involved with Allen.
Allen was taken off staff in the summer of 2011, one of many concessions the university’s made since Shapiro’s allegations surfaced. Miami sacrificed a second bowl bid in as many years, and an opportunity to play for the conference championship. Had the university not self-imposed sanctions this season, the Hurricanes would have faced rival Florida State for a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Golden’s commitment to Miami through all the turmoil is commendable. His departure would only further destabilize the program at a critical juncture. Of course, his profession is oftentimes a thankless one — across town, Mario Cristobal was fired despite giving FIU the only success it’s ever known. One would hope Golden’s loyalty would be repaid in kind.
That he is staying might suggest the NCAA’s hammer will not come down as severely as anticipated. Wisconsin is an attractive job; the Badgers are headed to a third consecutive Rose Bowl, and next season return an impressive cache of talent, including James White. Of course, Golden has his own cadre of players in Coral Gables, like standout running back Duke Johnson.