Friday, November 25, 2011
Al Golden, Miami agree on extension
MIAMI -- Al Golden insists he wanted to make a long-term commitment to Miami. The Hurricanes happily obliged.
Golden is now under contract with the Hurricanes through Feb. 1, 2020, the announcement coming Friday during a 24-17 loss to Boston College.
Four more years have been tacked onto the deal Golden signed with Miami this past spring -- a move the coach hopes is enough to end whatever speculation exists about him being potentially wooed elsewhere anytime soon.
Miami coach Al Golden should be smiling. His 2012 recruiting class is ranked No. 8 nationally by ESPN.
"For the players and recruits, we've only said the same thing now for weeks," Golden said. "And again, whether or not anybody outside wanted to listen to what we were saying, our message never changed. And now it's officially not going to change."
The timing of the announcement was somewhat unusual -- the university released the news with about 12 minutes to go in the game.
Miami is not going to a bowl game because of an ongoing NCAA investigation into the athletic department and compliance practices, a probe born after a former booster said he provided 72 Hurricane players and recruits with extra benefits from 2002 through 2010.
Some university officials were aware of at least some of those claims brought by convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro long before Golden was hired last December. (His original contract with Miami was not completed for several months afterward.) Golden has said many times that he was unaware of the Shapiro allegations during the interview process, and when the news broke in a Yahoo! Sports article published in August, he was apparently blindsided.
So that, combined with statements made by Golden's longtime agent in recent weeks, led to suggestions that he could leave Miami after one season, possibly for Penn State, his alma mater now embroiled within a scandal of its own -- a child sexual abuse mess that led to the firing of Golden's mentor, Joe Paterno.
Golden said Friday that if Penn State calls, he's not interested.
"Right now Penn State has got a great coach. His name is Tom Bradley," Golden said, referring to the Nittany Lions' interim coach who wants the job on a more permanent basis. "He's passionate. He's an incredible leader. He's loyal. He's been there forever. The kids are playing for him and I'm happy for Tom. But I'm excited to be a Miami Hurricane."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, including if Golden is getting a raise or if the terms of the buyout should he want to break the contract early were changed. As a private institution, Miami does not have to release contract information.
"I look forward to working side-by-side with coach Golden for many years," athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released by the university. "Al has done a fantastic job of rebuilding and solidifying the foundation of our football program while fostering success both on and off of the field. He has been a first-class representative of our university and I am confident that with Al leading the way, our future is very bright."
University president Donna Shalala declined comment, and left Golden's postgame news conference about midway through the session. Miami finished the season with a 6-6 record, which still would have been good enough to get the Hurricanes a bowl invitation.
ESPN.com's Heather Dinich and Andrea Adelson write about all things ACC in the conference blog.
"I'm pretty sure that coach Golden has a plan," Miami quarterback Jacory Harris said, "and that his plan is going to work."
For now, his plan is to leave -- briefly, anyway. Golden said he'll be at a coveted recruit's home at 2 p.m. Sunday; under NCAA rules, he's not able to talk about specific recruits until they sign letters of intent.
On Monday, he'll be on campus again. Miami's offseason program begins that day, Golden making that decision so the team can get a jump-start on 2012 before the looming semester break.
"I'm happy for Al," said Boston College coach Frank Spaziani, who has known Golden since he tried recruiting him nearly 30 years ago. "If Al signed a four-year extension, Al's a big boy, he knows what's best for him and his family. Al's a great person. I love him dearly -- and I wish him the best, except when we're playing them."
Some players, such as linebacker Sean Spence, were unaware of the extension until being asked about it in a postgame news conference. Others were hardly surprised that it got done, especially since Golden has said countless times that his wife and family love living in South Florida.
"I heard the rumblings," Miami center Tyler Horn said. "I never really doubted that he was going anywhere. He told us all the time in meetings that he loved it here. He wants to rebuild this place. So I'm not surprised at all. It's huge for the team. I'm sure it's a relief for some guys. It's a very good thing."
It ends a wild week of news at Miami.
On Sunday, the university self-imposed a bowl ban for 2011 that school officials said was "necessary" in response to the NCAA probe. Players were informed that afternoon that Friday's game against Boston College would end the season, even though the Hurricanes had enough wins to qualify for a postseason appearance.
Golden has said he's been assured Miami is not self-imposing any other penalties, including a reduction in scholarships. He wants to bring in about 30 players before next season.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to move forward, to get in kids' homes starting on Sunday and obviously pulling a great recruiting class," Golden said. "I think kids understand what needs we have. ... It represents need and represents opportunity."