Athletics, Football, Sports

Fans put Golden in hot seat


Al Golden watches the football team warm up at Doak Campbell Stadium before the game against FSU on Nov. 2 2013. File Photo.

When Hurricanes Football Coach Al Golden began his career at the University of Miami in 2010, fans boasted about the beginning of the “Golden Era.”

Five years later, fans hoping for a national championship – the last of which was in 2001 – have taken to Twitter to express their discontent, fueled by the hashtag “FireAlGolden.” Despite fans calling for his removal, Golden’s contract extends through the end of the 2019 season.

While Golden had a strong start at the beginning of the 2013 season, he ended 2014 on a less-than-stellar note at 6-7, which included a bowl loss.

Most of the fans using this hashtag disagree with Golden’s choices for the coaching staff and are dissatisfied with the team’s performance on the field.

“Especially with this season, I think one can easily point to poor decision-making by the coaching staff as the main reason for the team’s struggles,” sophomore James Newlin said.

Angry about the outcome of the recent bowl game against South Carolina, Newlin himself posted a tweet using the hashtag. He says he did so because that loss was upsetting for him.

“We can never truly know what’s going on inside the football team; I think the easiest way for fans to express their frustration is to blame it on the coach,” Newlin said.

Back in 2010, however, it seemed that Miami’s 22nd head football coach’s future would be golden. In his previous tenure at Philadelphia’s Temple University, he led the team to an 8-4 overall record, an improvement over its previous record of having only two winning seasons in 26 years.

Despite backlash from fans, Golden has been recognized for his performance. In 2013, he received the Lombardi Award for Excellence in Coaching, which came at the heels of a 9-4 season that was on track to lead the Hurricanes to their first division title, only to be stopped by Florida State University during conference play.

That season, Golden also coached the Hurricanes to a spot in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. This was Miami’s first bowl appearance since 2010 after the Nevin Shapiro ponzi scheme scandal.

The subsequent NCAA investigation hurt recruitment and resulted in the removal of some scholarships in Golden’s first two seasons with UM. Despite the NCAA investigation, this did not hurt Golden’s ability to garner notable recruits, such as running back Duke Johnson and quarterback Brad Kaaya. Johnson recently decided to enter the 2015 NFL draft, and Kaaya was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2014.

Nevertheless, Johnson and Kaaya could not carry the team and prevent the outcome of the Duck Commander Independence Bowl held in December 2014. Under Golden, the team has an overall record of 28-22 and are 16-16 in the ACC.

Former Hurricanes Head Coach Randy Shannon held the same record during the 2009 season as Golden’s 2013 peak. Shannon was terminated a year later.

Among the other grievances, the similarity to Shannon’s record has prompted some fans to question Golden’s performance.

“I think the fans are tired of being mediocre,” said Gerry Couzo, who has been attending UM football games since 1990, when his parents worked for the Miller School of Medicine.

“It’s sad that we haven’t won a bowl game since 2006. … It’s also frustrating to see talent brought into this team year in and year out, flourish in the NFL but doing okay here at the U,” Couzo said.

It’s sentiments like these that drive fans to social media to voice their concerns. Though the “FireAlGolden” hashtag has gained popularity this season, it is not new.

The hashtag was first used in 2010 shortly after Golden was hired. It then popped up again in the 2011 season and has been used since.

When games were lost or did not go as expected, fans took to Twitter, calling for the coach’s termination. Throughout the 2014 season, plane banners with the phrase printed on them were purchased and flown around Sun Life Stadium before games.

Picket signs with “#FireAlGolden” written on them were even seen on national television during ESPN’s coverage of the national championship game held in Dallas, Texas on Jan. 12.

Discontent for Golden also made its way to the basketball court.

Staffers at the BankUnited Center (BUC) took away signs that read “Fire Al Golden” and “Bring Back Butch” from a student at men’s basketball games. According to an article in the Miami New Times, BUC security deemed the signs a distraction to fans.

This led to an outpour of tweets and posts supporting the UM student and calling for an explanation from the university.

Documentary filmmaker Billy Corben, who produced the two “U” documentaries that premiered on ESPN, took to Twitter to express his frustrations, writing, “shame on @UnivMiami @CanesAllAccess for confiscating signs from paying fans at @The_BUC during @CanesHoops games.”

According to a Miami Herald interview with Athletic Director Blake James, the BUC has a no-sign policy. However, screenshots on Billy Corben’s Twitter show that the no-sign policy did not show up on the venue’s website until Jan. 14, three days after the signs were confiscated.

A representative from the BUC suggested that the no-sign policy is for customer service and safety purposes.

Couzo, who has had season tickets since 2008, says that he thinks it’s not right to take signs from fans because “we have rights as Americans to voice how we feel.” He does, however, understand the problems these negative signs may pose when it comes time to recruit new players.

“Certain recruits build a relationship with a coach, which is why they go to that school, so while on a visit if they attend a basketball game and see those signs they start to think, ‘Man, coach might not be here that long so let me not consider coming here.’ That’s the only way it’s a distraction in my opinion,” he said.

Newlin shares similar sentiments.

“As long as the signs aren’t offensive, I don’t see how they can be that distracting,” he said.

He also says he doesn’t see fans changing their tune any time soon.

“I have friends on both sides of the issue, but I definitely think Coach Golden’s support among students is fading,” he said.

Still, James says he is supportive of Golden and his efforts.

“Coach Golden has helped guide Miami through some of our most challenging times and represents the university with class and integrity. He has worked hard to rebuild our program the right way,” he said.

Courtney Fiorini contributed to this report. 

Which is more likely to happen?

  • Neither. Al Golden is staying where he is. (52%, 251 Votes)
  • Al Golden being fired (29%, 140 Votes)
  • Both. They're not mutually exclusive. (14%, 66 Votes)
  • Butch Davis being brought back (5%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 479

Polls Archive

Loading ... Loading ...
January 21, 2015


Erika Glass

Multimedia Editor

Courtney Fiorini

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Fans put Golden in hot seat”

  1. CanesNeedChange says:

    I am saddened to see the state of the Canes Football program come to this situation. When I look around and see other school’s dedicated to building winning programs, I wonder how our program has come to this. You see top programs like Michigan, Nebraska, and Florida making BIG changes to their leadership. What are we doing?

  2. Tony says:

    Kudos to Erika Glass for courageously reporting what is already common knowledge. I hope that the same jack-booted thugs, that confiscate legitimate signs at basketball games, don’t close down this newspaper.

    That Golden still has a job, while Shannon was fired for a near identical record, speaks to the lack of judgement and testicular fortitude by the Board of Trustees, Donna Shalala, and Blake James. Insulting to fans’ intelligence is the administration’s specious argument that the “cloud” somehow gives Golden a pass. Is there any other employer that would allow four years of incompetence? I think not.

    Fans have had enough. The withdrawal of support, for this once gloried football team, will be staggering, and a financial blow to the tightwads that refuse to pay off Golden’s deserved exit. The rehiring of Butch Davis will revitalize the fan base, season tickets, and attendance. The cost of the pay off will be made back in weeks.

    The Board of Trustees needs to wake up from their slumber (that’s as nice as I can put it) and do the right thing: FIRE GOLDEN; BRING BUTCH BACK. There is no need for the BOT to destroy the upcoming season, only to perform the necessary surgery later. Fans know this, along with recruits, the ACC, and South Florida.

  3. Canefan79 says:

    Talk about a 180 turn from the AJ Ricket’s Athletic Department party line press release. Nice piece. I was begining to wonder if the Hurricane was going down the mouthpiece road…Might end up being almost as good as when DeNicola ran it.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Either the Miami Hurricanes get a collective adrenaline rush from heart-palpitating fourth quarters, ...

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga, his face showing the strain of an ongoing ...

The No. 8 Hurricanes,  20 1/2-point favorites over next opponent North Carolina, are still one of on ...

Kudos to the two newest Atlantic Coast Conference Players of the Week: tight end Christopher Herndon ...

Mark Richt is not overly concerned with depth. Not when the eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 ...

A University of Miami Ph.D. student in the Department of History sheds light on the dark history of ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

The Hurricanes may be young, but they have the talent and poise to make a deep run in March. ...

Miami tight end Christopher Herndon and linebacker Michael Pinckney were among those recognized with ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

The Miami women's tennis team wrapped up play Sunday the ITA Southeast Regional Championships P ...

The Hurricanes grabbed four interceptions and another ACC victory as they defeated Syracuse, 27-19, ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.