“Hurricane[s] fans aren’t known for their patience, and they won’t stick around for long. Something good has to happen fast,” wrote sports writer Spencer Dandes in a September 2011 issue of this paper. His rebuke was directed at head football coach Al Golden, who was then just inheriting the team amidst the fallout from the Nevin Shapiro scandal that had been uncovered about a month earlier.
Four years later, nothing has changed. Impatient Hurricane fans are still touting “Fire Al Golden” and “Bring Back Butch” signs. Others are waiting on the edge of their seats to see if Golden can finally pull through a solid performance during the 2015-16 season, now that the cloud of the 2013 NCAA rulings has blown away.
Through the NCAA sanctions, the team lost nine scholarships over three years and the school self-imposed a two-year ban on bowl participation.
Golden veritably had his hands tied with regard to recruitment from when the story broke in August 2011 to when the final sanctions ruling occurred in October 2013. Rival schools poached upon South Florida talent, including future first-round pick Amari Cooper, who played high school football for Miami Northwestern, a traditional feeder for the university. Cooper committed to the University of Alabama instead, just as news of the scandal broke.
Now that some time has distanced Golden from the fallout of the NCAA probe and sanctions, he deserves this one last season to prove himself to Hurricanes fans. This is, after all, only the second year he has been able to recruit a class without the sanctions deterring promising players. Golden also has a deep and talented lineup for the 2016 recruiting class, currently ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN.
The Hurricanes should see an improvement over last year’s team that finished with a losing record for the first time since 2007. Although the offense lost several key contributors to the NFL, including Miami’s all-time leading rusher in Duke Johnson, sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya is poised to have a huge year, and the defense features skilled players all over the field. Combine the team’s development from a year ago with a lighter schedule this season, and Golden is expected to compete for the ACC Coastal division title at a minimum.
Hurricanes fans need to accept that this isn’t 2001. The team is not yet in a place to contend for national championships every single season. Prematurely firing a coach who recruits well, is liked by players and is loyal to the school would only set the team back from reaching its previous form.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.