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Talent Isn’t the Issue for Miami Coach Al Golden

Miami Hurricanes head football coach Al Golden is on the hot seat entering the 2015 season. That isn’t ground-breaking news. Most every major sports publication has made reference to it in some form or fashion since the Canes finished 2014 with a 6-7 record.

Look no further than Today’s U Managing Editor Tyler Waddell, who back in January seated Golden front and center, the No. 1 prospect, although he says those types of articles are never his favorite to produce personally. Really, where’s the “not sure if serious” emoticon?

As Waddell pointed out, and it appears to be the consensus, the Canes would have to win the ACC Coastal Division, something they’ve never done outright since joining the conference in 2004, in order to dial down the heat on Golden’s tenure at the school, despite the fact that his contract runs through 2019.

Golden was specific in what he feels the Canes must do to turn their fortunes around.

“If we don’t become a smarter and more disciplined team we’re going to continue to have the same results,” Golden said earlier this month, according to Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel.

Miami was penalized a whopping 825 yards last season and Golden said he felt like third-down efficiency must be improved upon as well. “I’m hopeful that these guys understand what they need to do to play good ball,” he said.

Golden is entering his fifth season (28-22, 16-16 in the ACC) at The U. That’s pretty close to the shelf-life, good or bad, for head coaches at Miami. Randy Shannon (four years), Larry Coker (six years), Butch Davis (six years), Dennis Erickson (six years), Jimmy Johnson (five years), and Howard Schnellenberger (five years) before him, set the apparent standard model for “consistency” there.

You’d have to go all the way back to 1964 and Charlie Tate to find a head football coach at Miami that surpassed the six-year mark. And he made it exactly two games into his seventh season before throwing in the towel.

For Miami, that’s 14 head football coaches since 1963, which was the last season under Canes legend Andy Gustafson, the longest tenured coach (16 years) in the program’s history. In other words, the Canes have had more suitors than Zsa Zsa Gabor (well, since we’re making ‘60s references…).

It’s puzzling as to why it hasn’t happened for Golden. A 9-4 season in 2013 gave Hurricanes’ faithful hope as an upwards swing continued from previous 6-6 and 7-5 campaigns. But a four-game losing streak, the longest since Golden took over, resulted in the program’s first losing season since Shannon’s initial year (2007). It was the Canes’ second losing season in 18 years and just the third in the last 36.

Golden is looked upon by other coaches as a good one, and with good reason. He lifted a Temple program from the punch line to every college football joke to a Mid-American Conference East Division co-title.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 29 Pittsburgh at Miami

Al Golden is loaded in Miami.

“For some reason it isn’t translating to the field,” one former Hurricanes football coach told me, who wears a national championship ring. “I don’t know the reason why.”

It is said that Golden has never had what would be considered an “open door” policy to neither coaches nor players. And that’s fine if you’re Nick Saban and winning national championships. But if that’s your policy, you’d better be getting similar results.

That hasn’t happened in Miami since the turn of the century, heck the Canes haven’t even hoisted a bowl game trophy since a one-point win over Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl at Idaho, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that things are going to change anytime soon despite a roster seemingly filled with enough talent to make a run at it.

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