Coach Profiles: Al Golden
~ The following article and accompanying interview was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, PhillyCane ~
In light of recent allegations made by former booster and current snitch, Nevin Shapiro, the University of Miami has fallen on some hard times. As we all know Mr. Shapiro, via Yahoo! Sports, came out with a tell-all article about a supposed 8 year scandal that alleges Nevin Shapiro provided extra benefits to over 70 former and current Miami Hurricane athletes. The allegations reported by Shapiro range from paying for abortions, yacht parties, and other “outlandish” activities. To me, it sounds like another Saturday night out on South Beach, but I digress. True or not, these are very serious allegations that the NCAA has not taken lightly. While our “buddies” at ESPN are treating this like the modern-day SMU, it is not time to jump off the ledge just yet. Rest assured Miami fans, The U will be OK. As rapper TI says, “Better get on yo job, tell em’, haters get on yo job, it’s motivation.” I believe this University of Miami football team will rally together because of these events and truly use it as motivation. With the upcoming football season rapidly approaching, the University of Miami football team has been put into a hole, but luckily we have the one man that will be able to climb us right back out: Al Golden.
Being from Philadelphia, I was able to see first hand what Coach Al Golden is capable of. As a first time head coach, he rescued a Temple football program from the verge of becoming obsolete by taking them to their first bowl game in 30 years. He made a team that didn’t matter relevant again, as Temple is the only D-I football team in Philadelphia. To get a more in-depth look at our new head coach, I did an interview with Temple University’s Student Media Program Director, John Di Carlo.
John Di Carlo came to Temple University in 2001 after writing for the Daily Journal, a newspaper in Vineland, New Jersey where he won a New Jersey Press Association Award for his coverage of high school sports in southern Jersey. Di Carlo also currently runs the Temple Owls Rivals site: www.Owlscoop.com. As a member of the Temple media, Di Carlo had gotten to know Coach Golden quite well before he left for South Florida. He built a relationship with Golden that extended past the microphones. Thanks to Di Carlo, I was able to pick his brain and get an in-depth analysis of our new Head Coach that I want to share with the rest of the Hurricane family.
According to Di Carlo, Miami was not the only team that courted Coach Golden for a head coaching position. In 2008, Gene Block the chancellor at UCLA interviewed Golden twice for the opening. Being the former Provost at the University of Virginia, he was quite familiar with Golden, and loved him for that matter. But Golden never coached further west then Penn State, didn’t feel it was the right fit. Tennessee, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Vanderbilt also contacted him for his services. It was widely believed Charlie Weiss was going to bring him on as the defensive coordinator for Notre Dame. Even the University of Pittsburgh made a late push, but Golden was already too far along with Miami. Kirby Hocutt had come into town for Temple’s football banquet in December and Golden was hired the following day. Once Golden left for Miami, Temple replaced him and his staff with coaches from the Floriduh Croc coaching staff including new head coach, Steve Addazio. Addazio brought in a former croc coaches who were a part of the national championship team. This would not have been possible with out Al Golden.
In taking a look at Temple before Golden arrived, it is easy to see that they were down right horrible (and that’s being nice). Temple’s last winning season before Golden was in 1990 under Coach Jerry Berndt where the Owls went 7-4. The following season, Temple joined the Big East but had much difficulty competing. Temple failed to win any league games 6 times in their 14 years in the conference and won as many as 3 league games only once. Berdnt went 11-33, followed by Ron Dickerson who went 8-47, and then the coach prior to Golden, Bobby Wallace went 19-71 and 0-11 in his final year. According to Di Carlo, former Temple president David Adamany commissioned a task force to examine the feasibility of continuing the Temple football program. The football program stayed alive passing by 1 vote and in 2005 after going 0-11, Coach Bobby Wallace was fired and Coach Al Golden was hired.
The job Al Golden did at Temple was nothing short of remarkable. Di Carlo compares it to what happened at programs such as Kansas St., Hawaii, and Northwestern. He faced a lot of challenges at Temple before he even coached a game. When Al took over at Temple, he was hit with a loss of scholarships from the jump. Indeed, he inherited a roster with offensive linemen that were playing at 250 lbs. with pads on! Golden had to clean up the program on and off the field. And he literally had to clean their practice field, which was full of trash and reportedly a syringe or two. But Golden had been around big time football playing at Penn State and coaching at Boston College and Virginia. He was around BC during their gambling scandal. Not his first rodeo.
Di Carlo explained that there is more substance to Al Golden then what meets the eye. He feels Golden could be a politician in another life. Golden embraces being the CEO as he able is to manage all aspects that come with the territory from balancing alumni, media, boosters, administration, faculty, but most his importantly, he knows his players best. Golden is the whole package. He reads a lot of books on leadership that have allowed him to understand his players. He uses motivational tactics, which can be seen hanging all over his office or locker room. Some of these included, “Your actions are speaking so loud I cant even hear what your saying” or “By putting yourself in certain situations all you’re doing is multiplying by 0. By going to a party or getting involved with someone you shouldn’t, your sum will always be 0.” Golden’s ultimate goal was to bring back a toughness and attitude to a downtrodden Temple football team while making sure the players were doing the right things in the community and classroom.
As far as dealing with players who do get in trouble such as (Storm “Sticky Icky” Johnson), Golden doesn’t take any crap. He understands that a part of being the head coach is that you have to monitor player behavior. At Temple, Golden kicked his two highest ranked recruits off the football team for disciplinary issues. One, a West Virginia decommit, 4-star Daryl Robinson, and the other a Boston College decommit Eric Reynolds. One thing Di Carlo stressed was that Golden does believe in second chances (see “Cookie” Buchanan) but do what you are asked to do because he will not make any exceptions for anybody.
Once players arrive on campus they must be groomed so they can blossom into impact football players. As we all know, Shannon and staff had a small problem with this part of the job. Luckily, we have a head coach in who had a staff in place that did a nice job at Temple (especially with what he had to work with). Di Carlo pointed the recent NFL draft, where Temple had players drafted in the first couple rounds even though they weren’t highly recruited out of high school. Take a look at Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson out of Lyndon High School in New Jersey had offers from Temple, Kentucky, and Marshall. In 3 years Golden and staff developed him into a first round draft pick. Then, if you look at second round draft pick: Jaiquawn Jarrett out of Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. He had no D-I offers until Temple offered. Then Jarrett came in and played in every single game for 4 years while becoming a starter halfway through his freshman season. They turned Jarrett into a sure-fire tackler and big hitter. The Eagles got a good one
But the question arises: How did Al Golden get these players to come to lowly Temple? Wel, according to Di Carlo, Golden could sell ice to an Eskimo . . . really. Golden, who was named National Recruiter of the Year by Tom Lemming, is an aggressive, relentless, engaging, charismatic, and most importantly – honest – recruiter. One could just imagine how tough it was for him to sell a program that didn’t win a game the previous year. But he got it done. He told his recruits to “have belief without evidence.” He also told them to trust the process and you will be a part of something special . . . something I believe he is selling to potential Miami recruits. He is able to relate to different personalities of players and parents. Di Carlo made it a point to say that the one thing about Golden’s recruiting efforts is that he doesn’t go off the websites such as ESPN or Scout. Golden and his staff are very good at evaluating talent and they trust their evaluations. Golden and his staff will not subscribe to the herd mentality. As can be seen with Wilkerson and Jarrett, they trust their instincts; but they especially trust the process.
So far, everyone has been very pleased with what Coach Golden has done. He has come in and really changed the culture in Coral Gables. But as some of the skeptics will say, he still has yet to coach a game. So what can we expect from Coach Golden on the sidelines? Di Carlo told me that Golden is very passionate throughout the game, which comes to no surprise as we have heard his practices have been very up-tempo as Golden was seen running around himself. He will be very animated and energetic on the sidelines, but he will also not let his emotions get the best of him. You may see him take a couple steps out onto the field getting excited or on 4th inches emphatically motion for the first down. He does a great job of getting the players fired up.
I also made a point to ask Di Carlo about Coach D’Onofrio. Coach D was a former linebacker at Penn State whom got drafted to the Green Bay Packers, where his career got cut short due to a knee injury. Di Carlo told me that Golden must of done a very good job of selling the move to Miami because he was next in line for the Temple head coaching position. Temple was actually very surprised he didn’t take the head coaching position. He also said that away from the field Mark is very reserved, especially in his tone of voice. If you were to interview him in his office, you would maybe to move closer to hear him but once you get him out on the field he is totally different person (as we saw in the all-access videos). He comes from the Joe Pa culture so he is quite intense on the football field. Coach D will get the most out of his players, which bodes well for players such as Ray Ray Armstrong, Vaughn Telemaque, and Marcus Forston who all hope to have All-American type seasons. Scheme-wise at Temple, D’Onofrio two years ago used a 4-3, while last year he used a 3-4. What this tells me is that he will scheme his defense around his players’ abilities (cough cough- take notes Whipple).
Fortunately for Miami, Coach Golden had to fix the same stuff at Temple that he has had to do here, except now he has more talent. He changed the attitude at Temple – something that he is in the process of doing in Coral Gables. Coach Golden will change the culture around here but will not cut corners in doing so. With this being said, I wanted to get a feel for what Di Carlo expects from the Hurricanes in 2011. He believes it is not unrealistic at all for us to win 9 or 10 games in year one and make a BCS bowl game. But the main thing he stressed is that even if we do not win right away, Hurricane nation must trust the process and give Golden a chance to get his players and system in place. He believes that once that happens the sky is the limit. According to Di Carlo, it usually it takes a couple of years for kids to buy into the system and learn the different schemes and everything else. Di Carlo wouldn’t be surprised if we were competing for a national championship in year 2 of the Golden Era. To say the least, he has a lot of faith in Coach Golden.
Coach Al Golden has been through it all. A scandal at Boston College. He brought back a Temple program that was on its deathbed. He took Temple to their first bowl game in 30 years. Being from Philadelphia and seeing what he did at Temple, it really was nothing short of a miracle. I think the possibilities of what he can do at Miami are limitless. Unfortunately, he is going through Shapirogate, but I know it is something that he can handle. Coach Golden has the “IT” factor. He is a future star amongst the coaching ranks and I hope we can keep him in Coral Gables as long as possible.
Go ‘Canes! Beat the Twerps!
PS: I would like to thank John Di Carlo for taking the time for the interview. It is much appreciated! And I would like to thank JSQ and the Eye of the Hurricane family for bringing it everyday!
*Note: interview occurred in July