It can be said that Al Golden has been on the hot seat from the moment he was named head coach of the Miami Hurricanes. Frankly, the fan base is spoiled. They are used to excellence and anything outside of annual national title contention simply isn’t good enough. They are also impatient. The last times the ‘Canes were in national title contention was ten years ago. Ten years of mediocrity has left the Coral Gables natives restless.
While the Hurricanes have shown improvement under Golden, there have also been moments of hair-pulling frustration. Last season, although ineligible for the post-season, the Hurricanes finished with a winning record. However, they were embarrassed on national television against the Kansas State Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Florida State Seminoles. The defense played particularly poor in those games, which was a sore spot for a program used to tough tackling and game changing turnovers.
The bottom line was that the Hurricanes were inconsistent which Golden attributed to youth. That excuse won’t fly this season as 19 of 22 starters return.
In Golden’s defense, he inherited his share of problems. He was horrified to find out how disorganized the recruiting database was. The culture of entitlement and favoritism that grew under the previous regimes of Larry Coker and Randy Shannon has been difficult for the staff to overcome.
Most acutely felt has been the looming NCAA investigation and self-imposed bowl bans the last two years. Golden has done a remarkable job of luring decent recruiting classes despite the negative press.
If the Hurricanes emerge from the Infractions Committee meetings relatively unscathed, Golden knows that this is a make-or-break season. With a stacked offense, a more mature defense and two-straight solid recruiting classes, the expectations are high. Anything less than an ACC Championship will put tremendous pressure on Miami to make a change at the top.
Winning records and minor bowl berths were acceptable. He’s learning quickly that a lot more is needed at The U.