Miami has fired coach Al Golden, midway through his fifth season and one day after the Hurricanes endured the worst loss in the program’s 90-year history.
Golden went 32-25 with the Hurricanes and 17-18 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, his entire stint marred by an NCAA investigation and subsequent fallout caused by things that happened before he arrived in Coral Gables. His last game with Miami was a 58-0 loss to then-No. 6 Clemson, a result that had fans booing from the stands and calling for his departure – as many had for some time.
Miami (4-3, 1-2 ACC) plays at Duke on Saturday night. Larry Scott will take over as Miami’s interim head coach. The Hurricanes are scheduled to resume practice Tuesday.
“Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and he has done so with class, integrity and a true desire to see our students succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” Miami athletic director Blake James said. “However, we have a proud tradition of excellence at Miami, not just in football but in all sports, and we want to compete for ACC and national championships.
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“I simply believe that now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together and rally behind our young men.”
Golden did not return a call seeking comment.
Golden, who played for Joe Paterno at Penn State, is 59-59 in parts of 10 seasons as a head coach. He helped revitalize Temple’s program in his first opportunity as a head coach, then replaced Randy Shannon at Miami. The Hurricanes climbed to No. 7 in the AP Top 25 for a stretch in 2013, but have not finished a season in the national rankings since the 2009 campaign.
Golden talked after Saturday’s loss about the season now being a five-game playoff for Miami, which still has a mathematical – if not necessarily the most realistic – chance of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division, which was the rallying cry for this team.
“We have to move on,” Golden said after that game, adding that he took total responsibility for the outcome. “This was terrible. We cannot let it beat us tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. We have to move on quickly.”
Miami is moving on.
Golden will simply be moving.
The decision was agonizing to many in the athletic department who appreciated what Golden did and how he didn’t leave the Hurricanes during the NCAA scandal, but whatever credit he earned from that chapter apparently ran out.
“Anybody that’s in coaching realizes that you’re always just a step away,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday.
Golden was hired in December 2010. Before he coached a single game with the Hurricanes, Miami was hit with a massive NCAA investigation sparked by the actions of a former booster who was associated with the school long before Golden’s arrival. The school forfeited two bowl trips because of that probe as well as what would have been a trip to the 2013 ACC championship game.
Miami is still dealing with the after effects of that scandal. This year’s team had 80 scholarship players, five fewer than the maximum allowed – and that was to be the last step, Golden hoped, in finally escaping all the sanctions that Miami was handed by the NCAA in response to the extra benefits provided by convicted and currently imprisoned Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro as well as other rule-breaking inside the department.
When the Hurricanes get back to 85 scholarships, it will be under a new coach.
“I’ve been on the other side of it and it’s just bad,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Saturday. “It stinks. But, as I told some of their players on the field, ‘hey man, don’t let this game define you. Move on to next week. Go win next week. Stay focused on what you control and finish strong.”
Miami won the last of its five national championships in 2001, hasn’t appeared in what was once called the BCS bowls – the Orange, Fiesta, Sugar and Rose – since 2003 and hasn’t even won a bowl game since 2006, the last night of Larry Coker’s regime with the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004 and have never won a title in that league, and many fans made no effort to hide their anger.
Police have been stationed outside Golden’s home at times to ensure his family’s safety, his address and a cryptic threat was posted on a fan website at least once and of late banners calling for his firing have been at all Miami games – home and away.