MIAMI (CBSMiami) – University of Miami Hurricanes head football coach Al Golden faced the media Monday after a weekend full of speculation about whether he was or was not going to take the head coaching job at Penn State University.
The head coach issued a statement Sunday afternoon saying he was staying at UM. Monday, while largely deflecting any talk about the possible Penn State job, Golden reiterated his desire to stay at Miami.
“It’s humbling and a testament to our staff that other people expressed interest in us,” Golden said. “I’m excited about where we’re going at the University of Miami. Obviously there are some universities that have expressed interest over the last few years and I’ve never addressed them”
Golden continued, “I’m here and plan to be the coach at the University of Miami. I never speculate on the state of other programs.”
Golden’s press conference transitioned into one of talk about his current crop of coaches and the players he has returning for the 2014 campaign. The Canes head coach was very careful not to be too critical of the players he’s had, while also saying things aren’t good enough.
“We talk personnel, you can A. it can be construed as an excuse, and you can be disparaging the guys that are here in this program,” Golden said. “The guys that are here in this program brought us through a very dark time.”
While Golden has brought the Canes through one of the roughest periods in recent history; the lasting image from the 2013 season will be the Louisville Cardinals running up and down the field against the Canes.
UM defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has drawn much of the criticism throughout the last season as his defense collapsed towards the end of the year. Teams were able to completely dismantle the Canes defense as the season was at its most critical phase.
According to the AP’s Tim Reynolds, Miami’s defense ranked 121st out of 123 FBS teams in two categories from November 1 through the end of the season: rushing touchdowns allowed and third-down conversion defense.
Still, Golden defended his coaches and said that a change right now is not needed.
“The progress that awe made, whether it was sacks, fumbled caused, interceptions, this has been the most, I don’t want to say explosive, but it was as explosive a defense as we’ve seen,” Golden said. “We went from 31 penalties on defense a year ago to 10. Although we aren’t where we want to be, there are so many things I look at as a head coach and the answer right now is continuity.”
When asked directly, Golden said he does not plan on making any coaching changes heading into next season.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t tweak our personnel and how we devise things, a team is reborn every year. What was good for this past team may not be what’s best for this team coming up,” Golden said.
Golden said the only reason he decided to release a statement on the Penn State speculation was at the behest of the athletic department official who were concerned about how widespread the speculation had become.
As for the future, Golden said that one of the things that spurred his decision to stay at the U was the amount of talent coming into the program and the players returning to the program next season.
“There’s a big part of me that wants that (recruiting and coaching without NCAA sanctions) hanging over our head,” Golden said. “We have a lot of experience coming back, we are a much more mature group.”
Golden continued, “We have lots of talent coming into the program, I’m not talking about anybody else. I’m talking who we have in the program. As I look at my depth for the spring for the first time, we are a lot deeper. I like the symmetry we have.”