The way in which 2010 ended for the Hurricanes football team was one that many in South Florida are hoping to forget.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl was hyped up as a rivalry renewed, a matchup between Miami and Notre Dame that was supposed to show improvement by the Canes and give the team momentum heading into 2011. Instead, it was an old school beating, with the Irish taking a 33-17 victory that wasn’t even that close.
It was fitting that the game took place on Dec. 31, as one year and era ended and a new one began.
With the end of the Sun Bowl came the beginning of head coach Al Golden’s reign at the helm of the University of Miami football program. Since Golden took over, there has been quite a buzz around the team, one that wasn’t seen too often under former coach Randy Shannon.
Over the past four years, both fans and media were quick to mention just how reserved the program was. Press statements seemed too rehearsed, interviews hardly answered questions and interaction between the team and the fans was at a low point. It eventually reached a point where Shannon even banned his players from having a Twitter account.
Now, not only are some players back on Twitter, but Golden and his coaching staff have embraced the media platform as well, posting updates on coaching changes and interacting with their followers.
Listening to the coach speak, you can hear in his voice that he believes in what he is selling, that UM will be a nationally relevant powerhouse once more. Even those individuals who interacted with Golden back at Temple University would agree.
“Al Golden is a pretty media savvy guy; he handles himself well,” said Brian Dzenis of The Temple News, the weekly independent newspaper. “He is an intimidating guy, but he has this salesman vibe to him where he wants you to believe in him, his program.”
One major concern among Hurricanes supporters was that recruiting was going to take a major hit this year. With all the late coaching changes and insecurities going on at the last minute, it looked to be a rough point for the program. But so far Golden has rebounded from all those uncertainties and has put together a decent recruiting run.
Beyond reestablishing ties with local high schools and drawing recruits at the last minute, one aspect that should help Canes fans get excited is Golden’s commitment to establishing a new bridge with former football alumni. He aims to involve them with the team once more.
It’s too early to tell whether all of these changes will make a difference in the end. Right now, Canes fans can only hope.