Al Golden, it’s time to lace 'em up.
Stretch, throw down some Wheaties and get the hell out of town. Not because we don’t love you, but rather because we do.
We love you as much as a fan base could love a coach who’s yet to take the field. And that wasn’t a note of sarcasm, but one of sincerity.
When Golden arrived in Coral Gables nearly a year ago, he was expecting South Florida sunshine. He had his dream job, one that had the tradition and location to utilize his skills as a recruiter. He also vowed to change the culture on the field, to get rid of the sense of entitlement embodied by recent players. The Hurricanes, after all, haven't done anything significant since 2002 when they “lost” in the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State in the National Championship game.
Despite not coaching one game, Golden has launched Miami’s recruiting class for 2012 to sixth in the nation, according to ESPN.
On Monday, the honeymoon period was pronounced officially dead when he woke up to a napoleonic gremlin named Nevin Shapiro hurling feces at him. That crap storm is far from over.
With the status of Canes football in limbo, and even the possibility of the program shutting down for a year or more, Golden needs to start thinking more along the lines of “I” and less of his usual “we." If the Penn State job opens up in the near future (and I’m not convinced it will, considering Joe Paterno is an immortal) Golden should take it. No questions asked. He played there, coached there, and could build something special on top of an already solid foundation. He would be the perfect coach to follow a legend like Joe Pa.
By comparison, Miami’s program is on the verge of losing it’s foundation. Golden's probably going to have to start over, brick by brick. Does he really want or deserve to build from the sewer up?
Even as a Penn State graduate, I still bleed orange and green. I’m 99 percent Cane, with the remaining point left over for Penn State coeds (they’re underrated, trust me. They wear yoga pants to class year round).
That said, I fully endorse Golden leaving for Penn State or any other program that comes hollering next year. And they will come. He has all of the qualities you look for in a head coach. He’s genuine and kind yet tough at the same time. He’s a motivator, an innovator, and someone young men can look up to. He’s also an organizational freak, a necessity when shuffling the various duties of a college head coach. Why do you think his personality has made such an impact on the recruiting scene in such a short period of time? He hasn’t even won a game yet!
Regardless of who suits up on the field this year, Golden will get the most out of his troops. He is a winner. Like an elite quarterback, he makes those around him better. We will witness this on the field shortly, even in times of turmoil. A part of me feels Golden’s selflessness will force him to stay at Miami and look forward to any challenge thrown at him. That's assuming the penalties are more along the lines of USC (hard sanctions) than SMU (death).
When I wake up every day this week and check my computer to see whether this scandal was actually real or just a nightmare, my thoughts quickly shift to pity for Golden. How could they not? Imagine saving up for a brand new boat, buying the boat, and then finding out a month later it needs new engines. Now let’s say there’s no refund and the replacement has to come out of your own pocket. You’re screwed.
Al Golden just got screwed. And we’re not talking about the fun kind.
The fact that nobody in the administration told Golden of a potential NCAA investigation upon his hiring, or even months before this became public, is an act of selfishness. What’s gone down at “The U” is sketchy, distasteful and stomach churning. President Donna Shalala should be removed. Golden got sucker punched.
The worst part is it could be months before closure. There is a multitude of moving parts and this cloud will hover for a while. Just look at Ohio State.
If the Canes are able to succeed this season, it will be miraculous considering they very well could be without dynamic defensive players like Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, and Ray Ray Armstrong, three current players among the 12 mentioned to be involved. They’d also be playing under a magnifying glass. Regardless of how good they’re expected to be, the national media will hover like a fly on you-know-what. It would be an incredible feat for Golden and his staff to keep this team focused. Lives and careers are at stake.
Don’t underestimate Golden's success at Temple, where he created fire with two sticks in the middle of a thunder storm.
Whether Golden decides to weather the hurricane as a Hurricane or move on to another program down the road, we have to accept his decision. We have to back him. He didn’t sign up for this.