MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Al Golden knows the pressure is on, and that the noise level is high. But he is putting his faith in a football program that he says is finally where he wants it.
“No one wants to win more than I do and there is no one that works harder,” Golden told CBS4’s Sports Anchor Jim Berry.
If Golden is on the proverbial hot seat, the UM football coach is too defiant to admit it.
He truly believes the Canes can again be a dominant football power.
“Do you feel this is make or break for this year?” Berry asked him.
“I feel every year is make or break, so this is no different,” he replied.
But as Golden enters his fifth season, things are definitely different.
The school president who hired him is gone. And after a few too many frustrating losses, some of the faithful have ripped Golden and his coaching tactics.
“You’re a tough guy. You’re a football guy. But you are also a human being. So when you hear the criticism, does it bother you?” Berry asked him.
“It doesn’t bother me. The only thing I worry about is my wife and kids. That’s the only thing I worry about, is my wife and kids,” he said. “Jim you’ve always been honest with me and operated with integrity and you’ve been critical of me at times – same thing with Joe Rose. But you do it with me in my face and you do it in a professional manner. That’s a lot different than the cyberbullying or some of that stuff that goes on, that’s only intent is to be mean.”
Initially, Golden won over many UM backers by not bailing on the Canes when they were hit by scandal.
A booster claimed he had done all kinds of dirty things with UM athletes before Golden arrived.
As the new coach of the Hurricanes, Golden stood tall and dealt with a football tsunami.
“It was hard. You know, it was hard, you covered it. The first 28 months of my tenure was spent defending.”
The Canes weathered the storm, and now Golden believes better days are ahead.
The school has spent more than $30 million upgrading the football facilities.
By next year, Golden expects to regain a full complement of football scholarships.
After last year, Golden decided he himself had to literally lighten up.
“I gained a lot of weight during that time. I really spent the last eight months devoting myself to getting healthy and having more energy,” he said.
UM is now far removed from its renegade days of the ’80s. The last of its five national championships came 13 seasons ago.
But Golden believes the Canes can regain that glory, with him running the show.
“To the folks who wonder, ‘Is Al Golden the guy to get it done?’ What do you say?” Berry asked.
“I have no doubt that I am the guy, and I have no doubt that I was here for a reason during a very tumultuous time,” Golden replied’. “I have never been a politician. I don’t test the air when I answer questions. I make decisions that I believe are in the best interest of the University of Miami, our football program, our student athletes.”
How will Golden measure success this season? A national ranking and major bowl bid?
“I could answer that, but I would be just adding to the noise. At the end of the day, we have to go one game at a time,” he said.