Miami (Fla.) fans are done being patient with Al Golden, and that was made clear when a banner reading “Fire Al Golden, Save the U” was flown over Sun Life Stadium after a 3-3 start to the 2014 season that ended with an underwhelming 6-7 record and a loss to South Carolina in the No One Cares Bowl.
Fans and alums alike were more than ready for athletic director Blake James to move on from Golden this past season – his fourth with the program – but despite the grumblings, he was retained for the 2015 season. However, according to one former player with a recognizable name, that’s more than O.K. with him.
“I thought [keeping Golden] was the right move,” Michael Irvin told a local NBC station, according to the Miami Herald. “And guys, I’ve said this over and over again and I’ll say it here again: Al Golden – Coach Al Golden – has earned this opportunity, has earned the right to see this through. With what he’s done, to jump there and fight, that was not his fight, and he stayed through the fight. He recruited well and he kept us in the fight.”
Golden, who earned the No. 1 spot in my coaches hot seat rankings earlier this week, absolutely deserved credit for getting Miami through the Nevin Shapiro sanctions that destroyed the image of the program and forced some difficult times both on and off the field from 2011-13.
But the patience from the fan base – you thought that was impossible, but apparently it isn’t – has completely diminished due to the lack of competency from the Canes in what was supposed to be a year when they competed for the ACC Coastal Division.
“We started a freshman quarterback,” said Irvin. “Where’s the smarts? Tell me this: Where’s the smarts in saying, ‘Hey freshman, we know we started you. We know you learned a lot. But right now we’re going to snatch all of that from under you and make you start all over again next year.’
“It would be absolutely stupid, absolutely ignorant to do it to him, so it would be absolutely the right thing to let this man get one more year to finish and make it right,” he continued. “Building a championship takes time and there’s a process to it. And we’re in the midst, I think, of a very good process.”
That “very good process” took a major step back last season, and it’s not just because Miami went from 9-4 (5-3) record with a season-high no. 7 ranking in the AP Top 25 in 2013 to 6-7 (3-5) with a four-game losing streak to end the year.
It’s the fact that Miami went from a promising, on the rise program to once again mediocre in all facets of the game, and it all happened in the final month of the season when it lost to Virginia, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina – opponents with a combined 18-20 record – by a total of 32 points.
Those were games that Golden should have and needed to win. Games that he was expected to win. Games that, had he won, we wouldn’t be anywhere close to talking about job security, but rather how good the forecast is looking for the Hurricanes in 2015.
Instead, it’s the opposite, and though the talent is there on paper – it always has been for Miami – there’s warranted concern that it won’t be enough to get The U back to being The U anytime soon.
“I surely hope that people in Miami can calm their asses down and let the process see itself through,” said Irvin.
Miami is 81-57 since its Orange Bowl win in 2003, including its current five-game losing streak in the postseason. It is 28-21 under Golden’s tenure with an even .500 mark in ACC play.
The Canes have no swagger. Fans aren’t attending games. The NFL hasn’t called a player’s name any higher than the third round since 2011.
Any vindication for further tolerance in South Beach has been understandably thrown out the window.