University of Miami football coach Al Golden, looking dapper in a charcoal pin-striped suit and his customary orange tie, wrapped up the season Monday by addressing the media for 35 minutes — then headed out the door for the next couple months.
He will be back in between, of course, but for now it’s all about securing commitments for the 2012 signing class.
“OK guys, gotta go recruiting,’’ Golden said as hurried out of the Edgerrin James room. “Thanks.’’
Golden spoke about everything from his recently signed four-year contract extension to the NCAA to his feelings about UM’s strength and conditioning coach.
When prodded multiple times about his 6-6 season and if he expected to get a contract extension, or how he could sell that type of program to recruits, Golden firmly shot back.
“You keep talking about a six-win season like nothing else occurred,’’ he said, his voice rising. “This was the craziest year, I think, on record. The adversity we endured. This is about our program moving forward. The university understood the undertaking we had. I’m real proud of the staff and student-athletes.
“[Is] 6-6 not good enough for you? It’s not good enough for me. We’ll get it fixed.’’
In terms of impending NCAA sanctions regarding the investigation into former booster Nevin Shapiro and his relationship with the university, Golden maintains that the “worst part is behind us.’’ He also conceded he was “out of the loop’’ on that front. The NCAA began its investigation last March, according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, and the average amount of time for a major investigation is 11 months.
UM self-imposed a bowl ban for this season, but scholarship sanctions would be the norm in this type of situation, as well as possible additional bowl sanctions. Golden likely will steer clear of that scenario with recruits.
“From what I know, I’ve signed on because I think we’re moving forward,’’ he said. “We sat [suspended] kids, had them reinstated, [gave up] a bowl game. That story didn’t end for us in terms of suspensions. With all that adversity created, we were dealing with it every day.
“… From what we understand now, this puts an end to this chapter. We’ll face it. It’s not going to be anything compared to what we faced at Temple.’’
Golden also talked about the importance of staff stability, saying “it’s critical we retain coaches, make this a destination job for everybody. … I fully anticipate our coordinators to be here.’’ Except for strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey, he didn’t specify about the other assistants, saying he would sit down with all of them before the holidays.
Though he continually has said the Hurricanes need to be a physically stronger team, Swasey’s job is secure. “I believe in Coach Swasey, think he’s one of the best,’’ Golden said. “We’re vastly improved from where we were last January. We need to get stronger, educate the kids a little better on dietary and nutrition choices. You can’t go out there and play with 208-pound linebackers and think that’s OK. We’re playing teams that have 230-, 245-pound linebackers. I want a big, strong, powerful team.’’
Golden made it clear that recruiting efforts never stop until signing day (Feb. 1). He was asked how he handles players who say they’re a “soft verbal’’ commitment and still going to take their trips.
“If they’re looking, we’re looking, he replied. “What we can’t do is we can’t [mess] up in this class. We can’t. We have to have a full class. It’s going to be a big class. We’re taking one at every position basically, no matter what. So, if a kid’s still looking, we’ve got to make sure we hedge our bet and make sure we have a Plan B if they do leave.’’
He mentioned “quarterback, cornerback and the secondary in general’’ as key positions to sign, as well as linebackers and receivers.
As for the veterans, they are already in the weight room working on 2012 — the spring game is April 14 and Golden knows UM needs to be stronger on both sides of the line.
“We’ve made marked improvement,’’ he said, “but there are too many times on the field we’re getting pushed around. We have to get that fixed. As I said to the staff [Sunday], I think there’s a blessing that we’re not going to a bowl, because we can fix our strength and size at the point of attack. Hopefully we can do that over the next seven weeks.’’
• Linebacker Sean Spence was the only Hurricane to earn first-team All-ACC honors Monday. Running back Lamar Miller and center Tyler Horn were the only UM players to earn second-team honors.
Source: Miami Herald