It was unavoidable.
After the worst loss in program history, a 58-0 beat down on their home field by No. 6 Clemson, the Al Golden era was brought to a merciful end. It had long since run its course. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. The program had gone as far as it could with Golden at the helm. To call it a failure, however, isn’t being completely truthful – more on that later.
The final decision was handed down just about a week after Miami AD Blake James insisted that he would wait until the end of the season to make an evaluation. A statement like that, more often than not, signals the end and usually one which occurs prior to that season’s conclusion. Such was the case with Golden.
Now that it’s over, can we at least be honest about it? Golden was never going to succeed at Miami, not if victories are the only measuring stick for the success of a program. The U was that program back in the day, where national championships were as expected as international beauties along Miami Beach.
But that was before scandal, wrongdoing and fingers caught in the cookie jar. It’s always fun and games until someone gets hurt. The Miami football program is hurting, badly, still.
The painful recognition and subsequent self-intervention necessary to stop the bleeding and change course is a monumental undertaking that nobody would find appealing. But restoring credibility became top priority at this small, private university. Kudos to the school and those steering in that direction, but did it really have any other choice?
It’s bad, Miami, think USC. Well, maybe not that bad, but it’s close, perhaps closer than some would like to believe. At least in Miami’s defense its administration had the good sense to bring in coaches with integrity. That’s step No. 1 in the process back to respectability. Are you listening Trojans Nation?
Randy Shannon was first in line to take a crack at it in Coral Gables and did an admirable job. Unfortunately he was the guy following five head coaches at The U who won or played for national championships.
Reputation, at the time, was probably as high on the priority list as proper sleep and nutrition is to an incoming freshman. Shannon was shown the door after 3-plus years of reparation. And in that regard, he began to set the groundwork before passing the baton to Golden, whose job it was to continue with the daunting task at hand.
In his 4-plus years, Golden has succeeded in bringing a sense of respectability back to the football program. That’s the equity he had built up while the team continued to flounder among the also-rans of the ACC. The Canes have never played for an ACC Championship. But it bought him time to do what he could to help lay the past to rest and keep building that foundation for a more palatable approach to success.
So at a program whose fan base had grown accustomed to boasting of national prominence at the local watering holes, Golden’s successes can only be measured from within the program itself. Unfortunately those accomplishments didn’t translate into enough victories on the football field; not at a place where five national championship banners fly over, well, somewhere.