For the first time since his name was rumored to be a candidate for the vacant coaching job at his alma mater Penn State over the weekend, Miami coach Al Golden spoke publicly Monday about his future with the Hurricanes.
And it didn’t take long for Golden, who just completed his third season at the helm of Miami’s program, to reiterate he wanted to focus on moving the Hurricanes program forward and nothing more.
“As I said yesterday in my statement, it’s humbling and it’s flattering. It’s a testament to our staff and our student-athletes that other people express interest in us,” Golden said. “And as I said yesterday, I’m excited about where we’re going here at the University of Miami, I’m excited about our student athletes coming back. We have some midyear enrollees coming in this week. I’m excited to get back on the road and really ready to move forward…I think it’s really just important that we talk about the University of Miami and the direction we’re going.”
Golden, 44, became a hot topic of conversation this weekend after several media outlets, including ESPN, reported that he was one of three candidates atop Penn State’s wish list to replace Bill O’Brien who left State College to become coach of the Houston Texans.
After two days of silence, Golden released a statement on Sunday afternoon saying he was not a candidate for any job openings. Monday, he said he had hoped to address the topic at his scheduled year-end press conference, but rampant speculation forced the statement to come a day earlier.
For Golden, now the issue becomes recruiting and finding ways to improve a beleaguered unit which finished the season ranked 89th among FBS programs in total defense. That unit also gave up more than 500 yards six times this season, including five times in the last six games when the Hurricanes faced the likes of Florida State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Pittsburgh and Louisville.
“The reality of it is, we weren’t good enough,” Golden said. “We didn’t get it done. It’s my responsibility for us to be better at that time of year. Again, we just have to continue to build our depth and that’s going to be critical. Everybody goes through a lot of injuries and injuries are part of the fact when you look at that time of year and the guys that we lost, it was difficult, but again, there’s no excuse. I’m making sure you understand that all that goes into play, including us coaching better, playing better.”
One thing Golden said he won’t be doing is making changes to his staff. He reiterated Monday that he has evaluated all of his assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, and he stressed it was important to give his players continuity, and not make changes.
He did not, however, rule out personnel adjustments.
“The answer right now is not change. The answer right now is continuity. The answer is continued progress with our young people, continued development,” he said. “I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t excited about the talent coming back on defense…It’s my decision, and my decision was that starting over for these young people was not the answer. Continuing with the same position coaches and technique and scheme was the better answer for me. I made the decision after careful evaluation.”
*Golden confirmed on Monday that three players—quarterback Kevin Olsen, receiver Rashawn Scott and defensive back Ray Lewis III were all suspended for the Russell Athletic Bowl for conduct detrimental to the team.
*Golden said he also expects eight early enrollees to arrive on campus this week including wide receiver Braxton Berrios, offensive lineman Trevor Darling, defensive end Trent Harris, defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, offensive lineman Kc McDermott, running back Brandon Powell, running back Joseph Yearby and linebacker Juwon Young.
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