When the dust settled, Miami's Al Golden remained Miami's Al Golden, not moving on to Penn State, instead sticking with the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Despite the increased cash possibilities and the "dream job" status, Golden made the smart move by sticking in South Florida.
There was plenty of speculation that Golden to Penn State was a done deal in the days leading up to the coach confirming he was staying at Miami. Speculation ran rampant, as Penn State's Rivals site, Blue White Illustrated, reported that an agreement had been reached in principle, while Miami's Rivals site (subscription required), Cane Sport, reported that an offer was extended but no decision had been made.
Finally, Golden silenced the speculation by stating the following in a release from Hurricane Sports:
There has been much speculation concerning my future at the University of Miami. While I am flattered that our progress at The U during an extremely difficult period of time is recognized, I am also appreciative of just what we have here at UM and I am not a candidate for another position. We are eager to welcome our student athletes back to campus next week and visit with prospective student-athletes and their families beginning January 15.
Golden remains Miami's guy, and that's not just a plus for the Hurricanes. It is a plus for the coach himself.
Certainly, there was a greenness to the Penn State pasture that Miami could not duplicate—the financial side of things. However, in the sum total of the positions, what Miami cannot cover in cash, it more than makes up for with recruiting resources, a clear path to success and just winning being plenty good for the fans.
Recruits are the lifeblood of a college program, and, as Golden's showing right now, per 247 Sports' Composite Rankings, Miami is still a place that can recruit at a high level.
After taking time to repair the damage done during the Randy Shannon era, Golden has the machine working again, and that means he's pumping good talent into the 'Canes program. It's talent that is largely located in the state he works in as well, making the job easier.
Aiding Golden in the recruiting surge is his school moving out of the shadow of the ominous cloud of the NCAA. Miami has moved past the sanctions and the bowl bans that plagued the program in recent years, now operating at almost full capacity. The nine lost scholarships over three years are a mere paper cut compared to the gash that Penn State is still set to experience.
Do you think Al Golden made the right choice?
Even though the penalties have been reduced for the Nittany Lions, weathering the storm does not make it any easier, especially for a coach like Golden, who spent his time at Miami operating with the NCAA looking over his shoulder. Although Penn State might be the dream job, living life with more NCAA issues certainly seems to be every coach's nightmare.
Penn State has the money and the facilities. It also has the NCAA issues and, as David Jones of PennLive.com pointed out, the entrenched boosters still hanging on to the Paterno Era. More money is nice, but for the coach making $2.15 million, avoiding the extras is a reward that is as good as cash in many instances.
If the playing field were level, perhaps the move to Penn State would make sense. Unfortunately, Golden is operating with the reality that right now, it will be a struggle to win eight games a season in Happy Valley.
With a weak Coastal Division and plenty of talent coming in, Golden is hoping to elbow his way into the playoff, not just successfully navigate the sanction-infested waters in which Penn State will be swimming for the next few seasons.