A day after initial reports surfaced putting Miami coach Al Golden atop Penn State's wish list for its coaching vacancy, chatter linking Golden to his alma mater continued gaining steam on Friday.
The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review reported late Friday night that the six-member search committee tasked with finding a replacement for Bill O'Brien, who left Penn State to take over as coach of the Houston Texans, was set to meet with Golden on Friday but was delayed in getting to South Florida because of weather-related travel issues. (Click here to read the full report from the Tribune Review--PSU search committee plans to interview Miami's Golden).
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported earlier Friday that along with Golden, Penn State was targeting Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak. That was followed by a tweet from ESPN's Joe Schad saying, "Penn State source said Al Golden agreed to speak about the opening as early as [Friday] because 'It would be coming home.'"
Golden and Miami officials, meanwhile, remained quiet on the matter and Golden's agent Brett Senior did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner met with media in State College on Thursday and introduced the members of the search committee.
One of the biggest things the Nittany Lions will be looking for is stability, especially as the school is still hampered by sanctions handed down after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Penn State is currently dealing with scholarship reductions and is two years into a four-year postseason ban.
Golden, a former Penn State tight end and assistant coach under Joe Paterno, has already proven at Miami he can handle NCAA uncertainty.
Several months after Golden's arrival in Coral Gables after Randy Shannon was fired in 2010 Yahoo! Sports published a report detailing years of improper benefits doled out to Miami players by former booster Nevin Shapiro.
Despite a protracted NCAA investigation and Miami’s self-imposed two-year post-season ban, Golden was able to secure several highly-regarded recruiting classes and the Hurricanes win totals improved every year of his tenure culminating with Miami recently completing its first nine-win season since 2009.
This season, Golden led Miami to a 7-0 start that returned the Hurricanes to the top 10 for the first time since 2009 before they tumbled out of the rankings following losses to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Duke. Miami finished the season with a 36-9 loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl that brought Golden’s three-year record at Miami to 22-15.
Ahead of last week’s Russell Athletic Bowl, Golden was asked about the experience of having his name linked to jobs around the country. He stressed then that he was happy at Miami.
“We’re at one of the greatest places there is in college football and we’ve gone through a hard time, but it’s hard to imagine places out there that you can sell, that you can present better than the University of Miami,” Golden said. “We know we’re not where we want to be, but we know we’re not where we were. Those were pretty dark days. Many of you covered it. We were on the cover of Sports Illustrated two years ago and it wasn’t because we were holding up a trophy. They wanted to end the program. I dealt with masses of media my first training camp at the University of Miami. If you can imagine, throngs of media three, four times the size of this and the questions were ‘Are you going to have a team next year?’ I couldn’t believe it. But we had a lot of young men that stood with the University of Miami, we had a lot of coaches and staff that stood with the University of Miami through dark times and dark days. We’re excited about moving the program forward. We’re excited about the experience this week and the opportunity that we have and all that we’re doing.
“We just moved into a new football complex, we just finished a new student center on campus. There’s never been a better time to be at the University of Miami in terms of the educational opportunities, in terms of everything we can afford young people in our college town of Coral Gables, South Miami, Coconut Grove…we haven’t had the opportunity to really sell it and I’m looking forward to doing that in January.”
Golden is under contract at Miami through Feb. 1, 2020. He signed a four-year extension to stay at the school after the 2011 season.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun