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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

Grading Miami (Fla.)’s Coaching Move

How quickly coaching fortunes can change: months after being given a four-year contract extension, one meant to quiet the calls that this season might be his last, Randy Shannon was dismissed as the head coach at his alma mater. What does this say about Shannon? That being a good guy isn’t quite good enough; that graduating players, keeping a clean program and representing the program with aplomb will always be outweighed by wins and losses. What does the move say about Miami? That it’s time to start winning again, and soon. To that end, the Hurricanes had a heartbreaking flirtation with a Super Bowl-winning coach before opting for one of the nation’s most acclaimed non-B.C.S. conference coaches.

Positives Golden is a winner. This cannot be overstated: yes, Shannon was also a winner, but Golden’s a self-made success story, one who grasped at the opportunity to take over a Temple program far down on its luck and, against all odds, turned the Owls into a winner. Let’s get one thing clear: if you can win at Temple — at the time when Golden did so — you can win anywhere.

He’s also a young, fiery coach whose demeanor will play well with a team tired of the staid, quiet facade put forth by his predecessor. It’s one thing to keep a straight face, another to seem oblivious to what is occurring around you, as Shannon often did — time management, you may have heard, was a consistent issue. Golden is not the best game manager in his own right, but he will succeed in getting a prime effort out of the 2011 team.

For all the knocks Miami took in 2010, the Hurricanes still finished second in the A.C.C. Coastal division. In other words, the bottom has not completely dropped out. Golden will need to implement his system and philosophies on both sides of the ball, but one could see Miami making a two-win improvement in 2011, should the quarterback situation become more settled and the offensive line round into form.

Negatives Does Golden have staying power? I mean this quite literally: will the open Penn State position, once Joe Paterno decides to retire, be too much for the former Nittany Lion to ignore? This will be a topic of discussion every December for the Hurricanes, who must become accustomed to the yearly innuendo surrounding its new coach. To be honest, while Golden has publicly stated he wants to remain at Miami for the long haul, the Penn State job will continue to hold appeal.

Winning at Temple is one thing. Winning at Miami is quite another, as Golden will quickly find out. This is no longer your father’s Hurricanes — these aren’t your older brother’s Hurricanes, for that matter: the talent level is low, the A.C.C. vastly improved and the aura of invincibility long gone, which will make Golden’s task far more difficult than past Miami coaches, Shannon not included.

Miami has struggled in recruiting for roughly a half-decade, a period dating back to the final seasons under Larry Coker. Florida cleans up in-state, has for years, and Florida State has regained its place atop the Sunshine State pecking order thanks to a 10-win season under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher. Golden and the Hurricanes have plenty of work to do in order to regain the program’s footing in the area, and while Golden proved himself to be an adept evaluator of talent at Temple, he’s a clear third — if not lower — on the coaching totem pole in the state.

Grade B+. This is based on two factors: one, Shannon’s often inept tenure, one that forced Miami to make a change; and two, Golden’s rising stature as one of the nation’s top young coaches. He will be an improvement, but questions about his ability to change both a losing culture and recruit with Florida and Florida State should have fans a bit concerned. Miami won’t return to the nation’s elite unless it can recreate that fence around South Florida.

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  1. M Farren says:

    Except Golden could never win when it counted: at OHIO in 2009, not hosting OHIO in 2010 (both for the MAC-East division title), not hosting Miami(OH) in 2010 to secure a bowl game.

  2. DaU!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    I have my fingers crossed

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