- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Warren Sapp has made his feelings about Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio very clear:
"Don't talk to me about Al Golden and whatever that D-coordinator's name is," Sapp said, according to the NFL.com. "Al Golden, let me tell you what I've learned in the 19 years of being around the NFL ... you don't ever hire someone that you can't fire. That's the golden rule. The D-coordinator is killing my school. That looks like no Miami defense in the history of our school, even when [Howard] Schnellenberger was getting it started!"
While Sapp has no problem weighing in on the Miami staff, athletic director Blake James said on Monday that he’s fully confident in Golden and the current staff. James said it’s Golden’s job to evaluate the staff -- not his -- and he is not questioning Golden’s decision to retain D’Onofrio in spite of criticism after a season in which the defense finished No. 65 in the country in scoring defense and No. 89 in total defense.
“I evaluate our head coaches,” James said in a recent interview with ESPN.com. “I don’t think it’s the position for me to do anything other than evaluate Al. Al’s got to evaluate what’s best for him, and in our conversation he has full confidence of the staff we have in place and fully understands what we need to accomplish going forward. He had my full support, he has the full support of our president and board, and fans are always going to question things. A lot of times they don’t necessarily have all of the information and don’t consider all of the factors that go into challenges or when things aren’t going as you’d like them to go.”
Miami lost four of its last six games in 2013 and allowed at least 41 points in each of those losses with the exception being a 36-9 loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Some have questioned whether Golden’s friendship with D’Onofrio has impeded Golden’s perspective, but James said he still believes in his head coach’s vision for the program.
“I’m fully confident we’re going to be a lot better,” James said. “I believe in Al’s vision and I believe given the talent that we have in this area, and given the cloud of the NCAA investigation and the unknowns of it are gone now, just knowing the class we signed this year, but as importantly knowing the individuals that we were in conversation with that had interest in the University of Miami -- now maybe they all didn’t pick the University of Miami -- but I’m confident we’re going to see great young men come into this program and help us in our rebuilding process.”
“You have to look at the plan that’s in place and how that plan is being executed, and if you believe in that plan and that person that’s doing it, you’re fully committed,” James said. “That’s where I am with Al. That’s where we are as an institution with Al, and that’s where Al is with his program. There aren’t any questions here.”
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