Golden gets down to business at 'U'
Head coach focuses on moving ahead to 2011, playing for titles
The Associated Press
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- To begin writing a new chapter at Miami, Al Golden first wrote a book.
It's about 300 pages, spiral-bound, even had a catchy title. "Deserve Victory,'' he called it, with one word written in green, the other in orange.
The book had about two dozen tabs, all with Miami's distinctive "U'' logo, and to Golden, it both summarized where he's been in football -- and where he wants to take the Hurricanes. Athletic director Kirby Hocutt took notice. Showing that much attention to detail was just one reason why Miami wanted Golden.
"I think I had three things that he was looking for,'' Golden said Monday night at his introductory news conference before a room filled with trustees, alumni, coaches and current and former players. "I think I was a good coach. I had the best plan for the University of Miami football team. And I wanted to be here. I had all three. And I'm blessed to be here.''
A whirlwind week that started in a New York hotel seven days earlier ended with Golden speaking in Miami, donning a new Hurricanes tie and lapel pin, and vowing to restore the Hurricanes' program to greatness. He and his wife arrived in mid-afternoon, chatted with university president Donna Shalala, then Golden met his team for the first time.
Asked why Miami and why now, Golden didn't hesitate. "The most recognizable brand in college football,'' Golden said. "Again, I go back to the former players that are here, the five national championships, 20 national award winners, countless All-Americans, incredible tradition. It's a dream job. It's a tremendous opportunity for my family and I to build championships here.''
Golden said those words barely 24 hours after striking a five-year deal with the Hurricanes, who considered a slew of candidates before Hocutt met with the coach who pulled off an almost-unthinkable turnaround at Temple, taking the Owls to a bowl game for the first time in three decades last season and getting the team to upgrade its academic and civic profiles as well.
Golden said the two words Miami fans love most -- "national championship'' -- more than once in his first day on the job. Hocutt hired Golden with the charge of making Miami relevant again nationally, but stressed that this effort, while perhaps not as dire as what Golden faced at Temple, will take some time.
"Judge this hire next fall. Judge this hire after two football seasons are completed,'' Hocutt said. "I'm confident that our fan base, once they meet Al Golden and they get to know him and see his passion and what he's committed to and what he stands for, they're going to be very pleased. It was critically important for this program to find the right fit. And we found the right fit at the right time.''
Golden takes over for Randy Shannon, who was fired after a 7-5 regular season -- the first step backward the Hurricanes took in his four seasons. Shannon went 28-22 at Miami, and Hocutt made what he said was a difficult decision to change coaches based on the body of work, not one loss in particular.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland remains as the interim head coach, and will continue in that role through Miami's Dec. 31 appearance in the Sun Bowl against Notre Dame. Golden will spend much of this week recruiting, and said he's eager to see what Miami's players look like on the practice field.
Other than that, he'll stay away from the process of closing the 2010 season, instead working ahead for 2011.
He said telling his Temple players that he was leaving was tough Sunday night, and his Monday chat with his new group of Hurricanes wasn't exactly easy, either.
A few showed up for Golden's news conference; after the meeting many left for some already-scheduled finals.
"When he first walked in he cracked a couple jokes, a couple icebreakers,'' quarterback Stephen Morris said. "And then we just started talking business. We understand his morals. We understand what he's about and I think that's very important for a first meeting.''
In other words, Day One went by the book.