MIAMI GARDENS, Fl. Al Golden became the University of Miami's long-term football coach on Friday. That might not be good news for UM fans. After all, they still don't know if he can coach.
Golden, who finished his first season at The U with a disappointing 6-6 record, has agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension that goes through Feb. 1, 2020. The financials weren't disclosed, but suffice to say it's a risky deal, and UM carries all the risk.
Golden, who came to UM from Temple, has steadfastly maintained he doesn't want to leave UM. Ever. That didn't change Friday.
"This is where I want to be," he said. "This is a destination job."
So why the big reward?
Here's the deal: Golden played college football at Penn State. He was linebackers coach there in 2000. So, everyone assumes at some point he wants to coach there, that Penn State is his destination job.
Golden said that's never been the case.
"I've said all along I plan on being here," he said.
UM didn't believe him. The mere mention of Golden's name, and the mere possibility he could leave UM for Penn State to replace the fired Joe Paterno, has supposedly hurt UM's recruiting. So to stabilize the situation and give the appearance of a happy, single-minded family (Just win, baby!), UM gave Golden four more years and millions of dollars.
And all he had to do was take a team that finished 7-5 last season turn them into a .500 squad this season.
Deposed UM coaches Larry Coker and Randy Shannon must be shaking their heads. They'd have been fired for finishing .500; Golden got rewarded.
But that's not where the origin of this contract extension ends.
UM carries lots of guilt, too.
When Golden was hired in December the administration didn't tell him the school was under NCAA investigation for the actions of former booster Nevin Shapiro (Golden's agent didn't tell him either, but that's another story). Predictably, Golden wasn't pleased after learning of the scandal and its repercussions -- suspensions, possible bowl ban and possible scholarship reductions.
The contract extension is part of the makeup call for UM's neglect. Let's face it, Golden hasn't done anything to deserve such a rich reward.
UM was upset by lowly Boston College, 24-17, in Friday's season finale. The 'Canes self-imposed a bowl ban this year in an effort to stave off more severe penalties from the NCAA.
But consider this: the Hurricanes started the season with a road loss at Maryland (the Terrapins are 2-9) and ended the season with a home loss to Boston College (the Eagles finished 4-8).
Granted, the 'Canes were faced with multiple suspensions for the first few games of the season because of the booster scandal. And UM beat two ranked teams Ohio State and Georgia Tech. But the eight-point Maryland loss and the seven-point BC loss were the biggest losing margins of the season. Is that worthy of a contract extension? Apparently, yes, if you can mix in some rumor and guilt.
UM losing to BC isn't so shocking considering the funky history of this series. Everyone knows about the 1984 Doug Flutie game, or "Hail Flutie," as it's sometimes called. The Eagles won, 47-45, on a last-second touchdown pass from Flutie to Gerard Phelan.
But there have been a few lesser-publicized wacky games. In 1997, Miami defeated BC, 45-44, in two overtimes because then-BC coach Tom O'Brien misunderstood the overtime rule. He thought it was mandatory to go for a two-point conversion in the second overtime, not the third. So, he went for it in the second overtime and was denied.
In 1999, Miami came back from a 28-0 second-quarter deficit to win, 31-28. It's one of the biggest comebacks in UM history.
In 2001, when the Hurricanes won their last national title, top-ranked Miami beat BC, 18-7, when Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed infamously took the ball from teammate Matt Walters after an interception. The Hurricanes were clinging to a 12-7 lead but BC drove to the Miami 2-yard line when a pass bounced off a BC receiver's leg. Walters, a defensive end, intercepted the pass and when it appeared he was running too slowly for comfort Reed grabbed the ball and ran the final 70 yards or so to complete the touchdown and deliver the victory.
Weird series; Friday was another bizarre chapter. UM, a two-touchdown favorite, jumped out to a 7-0 lead over BC on Senior Day. But the players who comprised the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2008, the crew that never even sniffed the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, eventually lost its grip on the lead. Senior quarterback Jacory Harris threw four interceptions (one of which was returned for a 45-yard touchdown) and heard a few boos in his final game as a Hurricane. Strange. But not as strange as Golden's extension.
UM center Tyler Horn said he wasn't surprised to hear Golden is committed to staying.
"I never really believed he was going to go anywhere," Horn said.
UM's administration thought otherwise.