Before the beginning of the football season, we expressed our hope that Head Coach Al Golden would finally be able to step up to the plate. Clearly, that was a bad judgment call.
The team’s floundering performance in the last four games shows that Golden has not and will not make a significant turnaround anytime soon. Director of Athletics Blake James announced that a decision on Golden’s tenure will be made after the season, but all signs point to a well-deserved firing in December.
Red flags include the fact that seven players were drafted from last year’s team (which finished 6-7), and another six signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. The team lost focus after each loss to Florida State the last two seasons, and Golden is accountable for that. Moreover, Golden’s inability to turn around his record this season begs for a new coach to be appointed. The team hasn’t yet played a complete game (Bethune-Cookman doesn’t count). They were outplayed in the first half against Florida Atlantic University, fell apart in the fourth quarter against Nebraska and deserved to lose to Cincinnati and FSU. That is unacceptable.
Despite the exodus of talent from last year, there are still gifted players on this team, and lined up in upcoming classes, who deserve adept guidance.
Ultimately, the poor management of the football coaching staff falls upon the Board of Trustees. The school made a decision to focus on academics and to distance itself from the football team’s wild reputation when Donna Shalala was hired. Larry Coker struggled near the end of his run, and Randy Shannon never had any success before Golden was hired.
The school still lacks an indoor practice facility for the team, despite previous talks about building one. The program could also offer more competitive pay to attract the top coaches in college football if the school wanted to reestablish its storied legacy. UM is one of only seven programs since the introduction of the AP championship format in 1935 to have won five or more national titles, and the only school to have won five since 1980.
A strong football program has the potential to generate significant revenue and a good national reputation for the school, and it’s high time the Board paid more careful attention to the team’s future.
The best Golden can hope for now is to save face by winning the ACC Coastal Division, the team’s goal for this season from the outset. However, the athletic program should not keep him simply because he can reach this relatively low bar. Winning the weaker division in a bad football conference is not a huge accomplishment.
The ambitions of the football team are put into a striking perspective when compared to those of our basketball team. Multiple basketball players recently mentioned hopes of winning the ACC Championship and reaching the Final Four next March. Jim Larrañaga is working towards shaping one of the best teams in college basketball in his fifth season, while Golden hopes to win a division that might be the weakest out of the Power Five conferences.
Golden came into a horrible situation with the NCAA scandal, but he’s had ample time to show whether or not he’s a championship-level coach. If he’s not going to win a championship, then what’s the point of keeping him?
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.