When Al Golden decided to leave Temple for Miami, it looked like he finally got the big break that he had been looking for. Golden went from the MAC to the ACC and he went from a program like Temple to “the U” which is filled with rich history. Instead his dream job turned into a nightmare before he even got to coach a game in South Beach. Golden was welcomed with an enormous scandal involving both former players and current players and he went into his coaching debut missing seven starters, including his starting quarterback. Through it all he has never made excuses, he has never asked for sympathy, and his team nearly beat Maryland on college football’s opening weekend. After a week off to regroup, his ‘Canes will welcome Ohio State to their house for what was expected to be a marquee game on the college football schedule with two prestigious programs getting together in Miami.
Instead these two teams are far from what the name on the front of the jersey’s would lead you to believe. Ohio State still has a lot of talent and are one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten, but they are coming off a scare on Saturday against Toledo, they are still dealing with the aftershock following a scandal that saw Jim Tressel get fired, and they head to Miami this weekend with more questions than answers as they continue to try and stay afloat without some of their best players, who remain suspended. They are calling it the Ineligible Bowl and for one season, the shine has been taken off two of the most prestigious programs in college football. Al Golden joined WDAE in Tampa Bay with Dan Sileo to talk about what he liked about his team despite losing to Maryland in week one, what it is like to coach at a program where the bulls-eye is always there, why he has decided to go back to Jacory Harris this weekend as his starting quarterback, and what he expects from Ohio State this weekend.
On what he liked about his team despite losing to Maryland in week one:
“There’s two things there Dan: every time we got punched we counter-punched and some of those punches were heartbreaking. You fumble in the red zone there and that took points off the board then you fumbled right before the half. Then you go in there and the guys regrouped there. Every time we got punched we counter-punched which was good. I thought our conditioning was good and we played with more energy. We didn’t play smart and we didn’t play disciplined but those are things we have to get fixed this week.”
What it is like to coach at a place where the bulls-eye is always there:
“That’s why I came here and that’s why the student athletes sign up to come to the University of Miami. You get to be a part of that heritage and that tradition. I think we lost our poise at times; the operational penalties are too hard to overcome. We wanted to be an on-schedule team. What I mean by that is we wanted to stay ahead of the count. We were left in too many second and third and longs to do that and that led to throwing the ball more and some interceptions. We have to get that fixed, our kids have had a good attitude, we worked hard last week, and I shouldn’t have to get them motivated this weekend. We’re playing Ohio State at Sun Life and it should be exciting.”
Why he decided to go back with Jacory Harris as his starting quarterback after his one game suspension:
“Again I think he gives us the best chance to win this game, in this environment. It’s a combination of two things. His body of work in training camp number one and then number two the things that we did not do well in the game. The things that we did not do well in the game were a lot of operational. Being in the right formation, not getting a delay of game, and a lot of those have to be managed on the field by the quarterback. I know Stephen (Morris) is going to learn from that. Stephen up until that first of the two two minute drives was 15 of 18, did a lot of good things, gotta learn to protect the ball better, but clearly we had too many penalties and too many operational issues and we didn’t play at the tempo we wanted to play. We think Jacory gives us the best chance to do that in this game.”
On Ohio State this year:
“Number one they got their wake-up call last week in the Horseshoe and the cage is rattled. We’re gonna have their full attention. It’s a national game and it’s gonna be a great environment. The biggest thing is play with poise, play with poise. Our kids fought last week I think we’re in really good condition and now it’s a function of going out there and playing with poise. This is gonna be one of those lock-your-jaw games. This is a physical hand-to-hand combat team, this is a team that loves to make it into a one-on-one game. Number 54 John Simon won the game for them last week with an incredible effort, they have a 330 pound guy in Hankins at defensive tackle, and the guy that is the flag carrier for their defense is Nathan Williams, number 43. They’re talented, rugged, they’re six Big Ten championships in a row. This is a great test for our program and I’m excited about the opportunity. I hope our kids are excited about this opportunity to play Ohio State on Saturday night.”