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Did the Wrong Miami Fire Its Coach?

On Monday, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin. Many in the Magic City believe that the wrong Miami head coach got the axe.

Philbin was 24-28 in three-plus seasons as head coach of the Dolphins. He was shown the door after the team stumbled to a 1-3 start, including an uninspiring loss to the Jets in London on Sunday.

University of Miami head football coach Al Golden is in his fifth season in Coral Gables. After an equally uninspired 34-23 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday, there was hope among a growing number of disgruntled fans that Golden would be the one seeking employment elsewhere.

A 31-23 record doesn’t cut it with football royalty. That’s what Golden has produced in his four-plus years, with not so much as an appearance in the ACC Championship Game. He doesn’t even have a winning record inside the conference (16-16) and is even worse against FBS teams with winning records (11-18). A loss at Florida State on Saturday would give Golden the worst record in league play of any Miami head coach since the Hurricanes stopped playing as an Independent in 1991.

It’s a far cry from their days in the Big East when the Canes won or shared nine conference titles in 12 years. Programs like The U, with five national championships under its belt and an established level of excellence over the last four decades, aren’t used to mediocrity. Neither is its fan base.

Five consecutive coaches won or played for a national championship since Howard Schnellenberger resurrected the program beginning in 1979. Randy Shannon, Golden’s predecessor, broke that streak and now it is a reverse path that has Canes fans fuming. The U hasn’t been relevant since Larry Coker’s last season in 2006 when a 7-6 mark ended his stay.

The start of the 2015 season appeared to perhaps shine a glimmer of hope. The Canes won the first three games and looked to be headed in the right direction, of so it seemed. A second-half collapse at home against Nebraska necessitated a dramatic overtime victory rather than an accustomed pounding Canes faithful had grown fond of back in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.

But what followed, last Thursday, was nothing short of embarrassing. A loss – not a lousy performance with a narrow escape – but an actual loss to an American Athletic Conference also-ran has struck many fans’ last nerve. Adding insult to injury, it was suffered while above an airplane flew over the stadium with a trailing banner that read, “I flew 1124 miles just to say #FireAlGolden.

There is no patience left. Not when fans look up the turnpike and see what Jim McElwain is doing in his first season with the Florida Gators. Undefeated and nationally ranked following a shellacking of Ole Miss on Saturday, the in-state rival has Canes fans figuratively banging their collective heads against the wall.

It would seem as though only a Coastal Division crown and a conference title game could save Golden’s job now. However, winning back a fan base, used to national prominence and an avalanche of ‘W’s, it seems would take much more than even that.

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