“The football program, it’s time we put it all together. We’ve had great success in the community, great success academically the past couple of years…there’s a tremendous tradition here. A tradition of winning championships. There is no other standard.”
Those were the words of Al Golden during his introductory press conference in December of 2010.
If Al needs any proof of exactly why he was fired, he needs merely to look at the quotation above as justification.
Let’s start from the beginning. For those, like me, who were skeptical of hiring the head coach of Temple for one of the most potentially lucrative jobs in college football and yet so desperate for hope following the Larry Coker and Randy Shannon regimes, Al Golden’s introductory press conference was one for the ages.
Here was a young guy, a well spoken guy, who just GOT IT.
He talked of players, not plays. He talked of inviting the alumni back to be a larger presence within the program. He talked about re-invigorating the strength and conditioning program. He talked about the end of entitlement. He had 200 pages of blueprint and “pillars”.
Jesus, I would make that guy the GOP nominee for president.
He won the hell out of press conferences.
He opened the program back up to the fans through the Raising Canes video series, which was a breath of fresh air after the media-averse Shannon.
This was the beginning of a Golden Era.
Sure, there was the fact that he never beat anyone good at Temple. And the fact that he came from the boring coaching tradition of Penn State and Joe Paterno…the type of program that Miami OPENLY rejected during the glory days. Listening to that press conference was enough to make us all forget that.
We wanted him to win.
Golden was barely on campus for half a year when the program got slammed with an NCAA Investigation he had nothing to do with---a scandal the university knew was coming before they hired him and did not disclose.
And while I am past the point of this being used as an excuse for poor on-field performance, it is easy to forget the uncertainty of those two years. After all, this was the NCAA, and we are Miami, and in a world that has no real rules one has to assume the worst.
If nothing else, Al deserves credit for weathering a storm that he stumbled into with class and dignity.
Al did indeed revamp the strength program...there is no doubt our guys look the part. Al re-strengthened a lot of ties in the local community that Shannon messed up.
He recruited pretty well; sure, he missed on a lot of guys, but he also re-stocked the roster to the point that it is now a turnkey operation for the right coach. We are one of 15 programs that has finished with a Top 25 recruiting class in each of the past 4 years. Most coaches spend years trying to find a QB and defensive line; whoever takes this team over next has an NFL level QB and a young and talented stable of defensive linemen from the very beginning.
But here’s the thing…after a while, it comes back to the winning.
Al was ultimately undone by an inability to adapt. He stubbornly hung on to his system which did not fit the players he had on the roster, nor the local recruiting base.
His system required too much thinking, even for advanced South Florida kids. It is frustrating as a fan; I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be a player struggling to pick up a system in your third year running it, while watching your buddies from high school dominate elsewhere.
In the end, he was more beholden to his pillars and his plays than to the players; the words of his press conference rang hollow. And so it became time to move on. In fact, the university gave him a bonus 10 months out of loyalty or guilt over the NCAA mess.
And those are the types of things that get you fired.
If Al Golden has followed through on the promises he made during that inspiring first press conference, we might not be here today. We might not have gone 0-5 against FSU, or failed to beat a Top 25 team---we certainly would not have lost 58-0 to Clemson on Saturday.
But you can’t hide from results, and eventually everyone gets judged on their resume.
When I remember the Al Golden Error, I will not remember the early days of hope.
I will remember him consistently putting a slow, boring, horrible product on the field. They call this a 2-gap defense, similar to what the Cowboys run, except even the shitty Cowboys make plays every now and then. Our guys just stand around confused and then get too caught up in overthinking it to make a play on the ball. How anti-Miami is that?
I will remember him running off legends.
I will remember him throwing players under the bus and calling them “me guys” like a coward trying to cover his own ass.
I will remember his unintentionally hilarious catch phrases, like “be a McDonald’s hamburger” and “don’t rise to the occasion”.
I will remember him going dark for a week as he tried to bail on us for the open Penn State job, and then how distraught he was when he realized he was stuck at Miami, the best recruiting ground in the country.
Most of all I will remember the losing. So. Much. Losing. For scale, our basketball team has more wins against Duke than our football team since Al took over. Excuse me while I wade into traffic.
Later Al. Hope you catch on somewhere. And I hope we schedule whatever team you catch on with, because guaranteed wins are hard to come by.
And now, since everyone is making their coaching candidate list, here’s the dozen candidates I want to see interviewed to be the next Miami Hurricanes head coach, in no particular order.
Note: This list assumes that pie-in-the-sky candidates like Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Mark Danotnio, David Shaw and Gary Patterson say no.
1. Steve Spurrier – Spurrier is like Ahab if Ahab had not only caught Moby Dick but beat the ever loving piss out of him repeatedly, and then made a mockery of him in the national media.
2. Butch Davis – Dude is literally in the parking lot waiting on a phone call; he might work for Keystone Light and grilled cheese.
3. Mark Richt – What can I say, the man rocks a nice pair of church Dockers.
4. Justin Fuente – Most accomplished thing out of Memphis since 36 Mafia.
5. Tom Herman – Won a national championship with a 3rd string QB.
6. Rob Chudzinski – I imagine he would tell at least one local reporter to “fuck off” during a press conference.
7. Uncle Luke – Trick Daddy as defensive coordinator, Pitbull as offensive coordinator, Ricky Rozay coaching O-Line---we need Miami Guys, right? DALE!
8. Dana Hologram – Miami needs---nay, DEMANDS--- a 4Loko bootlegger.
9. Winston Moss – “I ain’t scared of you, bitch”.
10. Mike Gundy – He’s a MAN!
11. Dan Campbell – “Listen men, you want to win? Look at the guy next to you and RIP HIS HEART OUT OF HIS CHEST!!!! Losses are punishable by water boarding.”
12. Dwayne Johnson – FINALLY….THE ROCK HAS COME BACCCCCCCCK TO CORAL GABLES.
Daddy's gotta go to work.
Daddy's gotta go to work.