Golden still dealing with storms at Miami
Al Golden reworked Miami’s practice schedule a bit over the last
few days, minor adjustments that were needed because a tropical
storm was bearing down on South Florida.
By now, that doesn’t even seem like an inconvenience.
”It’s been storming for 19 months now,” Golden said. ”And
that’s the truth.”
He isn’t speaking of the weather.
Since Golden got hired as Miami’s coach in December 2010, the
Hurricanes have dealt with one issue after another, like
underclassmen leaving, player suspensions and the still-unresolved
NCAA inquiry into compliance practices. Sanctions are certain to
come, probably early next year. And the university has been dealing
with other problems, such as the medical school laying off hundreds
earlier this year because of financial woes.
In short, it doesn’t look like the best of times at Miami – and
football, its showcase athletic program, has been seeking a
turnaround for years.
That quest continues Saturday, when Golden’s second season at
Miami starts with a trip to Boston College to open the season and
Atlantic Coast Conference play.
”I just want to play,” Golden said. ”Just want to go out and
play. You know, let’s be accountable to each other. Let’s be
internally driven. Let’s not talk about it. Let’s go be about it.
Let’s go do it. Stop worrying about the external. Look, if we’re
worried about the external, we’re in for a long year.
”So that’s where we’re at. We’ve just got to stop talking and
Stephen Morris will start at quarterback on Saturday; he threw
nine passes over the final 11 games of last season’s 6-6 campaign,
one that ended with a loss to Boston College and without a bowl
trip because of university-imposed sanctions. The starting
offensive line for Week 1 may include one junior, three sophomores
and a freshman. It’s possible Miami could have just one senior
starting on offense, maybe just three on defense. And it’s
conceivable more true freshmen play on Saturday – Golden thinks
that number will be around 15 – than seniors.
”We’re not using excuses,” sophomore defensive lineman Anthony
Chickillo said. ”We have a lot of young guys and a lot of talent.
Guys won their jobs in camp, guys are hungry, guys are talented. So
That’s exactly what Golden wants his players to say. Asked this
week about the notion that Miami is in a position to silence
doubters, Golden bristled, saying he wants no part of that sort of
As he’s said from the day he arrived in Coral Gables, what
people think about the program from the outside, to him, is
”We’re just trying to get these guys through game week now,”
Golden said. ”School’s starting. So just keep them on task, stay
with the process, just trust it; that that process is going to
deliver them. Don’t look ahead. Just take care of business today.
Just win today. That’s all we really focus on.”
Allegations made by a former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme
architect were made public a couple weeks before Golden’s first
season at Miami began, and the stigma is still with the Hurricanes.
Still, the school was able to sign a deep recruiting class last
winter, with Golden standing by his expectation that the worst days
are already behind Miami.
Not everyone in the ACC would be surprised if Golden and Miami
made strides this season, much in the same way he did at Temple
when he revitalized a program there in ways few could have
”Last year obviously was a big transition for them, all the
circumstances swirling around everything that was going on down
there,” said Boston College coach Frank Spaziani, who has known
Golden for more than 20 years. ”They’ve had time to settle in a
little bit. They understand their roles now, and what they’re doing
and where they’re going. I think they’ll be a lot different
football team and program.”
Golden likely expects the same. And Saturday might show what
sort of year 2012 will be for the Hurricanes.
”We’re going to learn a lot,” Golden said. ”I don’t think
there’s any question, we’re going to learn a lot. I think you can
say that every year, but I think we’re going to learn a lot about
whether these guys can really hold it together and play with poise
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