Miami AD hears criticism, but fully supports Al Golden as 'Canes coach
It's no secret the University of Miami fanbase isn't happy with the football team's performance in 2014.
Voted the preseason favorite to capture the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Hurricanes instead finished in a three-way tie for last by ending on a three-game skid.
At the forefront of the criticism is fans' discontent with the staff, beginning with head coach Al Golden.
Asked via teleconference Monday afternoon whether he felt differently about the coaches from a year ago, athletic director Blake James said no, though he would like to wait until the season is over. Miami must still play South Carolina in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl on Dec. 27.
"It's important to keep it in perspective," James said. "I think the answer to your question -- I don't feel any different, but it's important to evaluate things holistically. After the bowl game's over, I'll really reflect back on the entire season and talk with Al about it. As I've said numerous times over the past few weeks, he's our coach. He's going to continue to be our coach. With that said he knows we have to get better, I know we have to get better. I need to talk to him about how we need to get better."
James, who is in the fourth year of his third stint with the program, understands 6-6 isn't acceptable for a five-time national champion. He also doesn't claim football expertise.
Following the bowl, James plans to offer his thoughts and feedback to Golden and vice versa. His evaluations will be less about assistant coaches and more about how he as an administrator can make things better for Golden and his staff.
Whether it is reinvesting money in other areas or allocating additional resources through fundraising, James' focus will be on the business decisions. He remains confident there will be better results in the future.
Over the past year, a new training table has been added. The practice fields got artificial turf (and lights will soon be installed(. The Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence received a facelift.
"We have to get better," James said. "As I said before, 6-6 isn't acceptable for the University of Miami. We need to get better as a program, and I'm confident that we have the guy who's going to do that. I'll continue to support Al."
Asked whether he takes into consideration the criticism he hears from fans, James said he opens up each email and voicemail but doesn't get to respond to them all. Although they may be negative in nature, it shows people care about the program because "if we didn't, then that would be a bigger concern."
A 6-6 season means "six times as much criticism," but it comes with the territory of sports and a performance-based industry.
Since Golden took over for Randy Shannon, the Hurricanes have gone 28-21 (16-16 ACC). The matchup will be just his second bowl game because of the NCAA investigation and self-sanctions.
Over the past decade, Miami hasn't played in a major bowl or for the ACC championship. It hasn't won any bowl since 2006. This downward trend isn't new.
"I hear all of them, I read through all of them," James said. "At the end of the day we have a very passionate group. I've said all along while we might not have the size of some of the bigger schools we're compared to in numbers of fanbase, I'd put our energy and passion up against anyone.
"Dating back to the Orange Bowl or even just this year the Florida State game, when you get our fanbase going in an energetic environment there isn't any better group or passionate group. When you don't have success they're going to be upset and voice their frustration. I get that. I think the thing I say is no one wants to see us win anymore than I do, and Al. I know that.
"We have to get better. They want us to get better. They're not happy with 6-6. I'm not happy with 6-6. With that being said, everyone has different ideas as to how to fix it. I'm leaving it up to Al because I believe he will get it fixed."