The football season for Canes Nation finally ended on saturday with the same level of awful mediocrity that makes them cringe in frustration. A 6-6 season with no chance to contend for anything of note simply does not and cannot sit well with Canes Nation. Naturally, the ire is completely directed at Al Golden and here are 5 reasons why, even with the support of the University and its AD, Golden on the hot seat is not a far-fetched notion.
1. Deferential Leadership
Golden has been seen as too deferential to his staff instead of taking the reigns of this team fully. Obviously, the much-maligned Canes defense comes to mind. Throughout D’Onofrio’s tenure at the helm of the Canes defense, the level of ineptitude to field appropriate schemes to bring down the go-to options of the other team has been more than evident. The constant choice of playing back against run first teams (i.e. the GaTech game) or lack of tackling ability left the better prepared Canes offense to be seeking a win via a shootout. Instead of Golden, being a defensive coach, changing the scheme or, better yet, after several seasons of failure, take charge and fire his friend as DC, he goes ahead and blames it on execution (more on that later). Leaders who fail to assume a firm, decisive stance against a sinking ship are doomed to sink with it and Golden, letting friendship blind his HC judgment, could have him wading water in the not too distant future.
2. Too Much Talent, Too Few Victories
This Canes team had immense, NFL quality talent with 4 or 5 guys possibly making the first, second, or early third rounds in the draft. With so many weapons on both sides of the ball, how is it that the record stands at .500? There is no excuse to squander so much talent. There is no excuse for bad play calling and strategy that place the stars on such shaky ground every time the game is up for grabs. There is no excuse for bad teams to have their way with the Canes. This excuse talk leads me to my next point…
3. Tired of the Excuses
The Shapiro saga and the haze which potential NCAA sanctions brought incredible pressure on Golden and his staff. However, the time for excuses has come and gone. It really has to stop. Canes Nation is tired of Golden blaming it on execution, timing, player growth, Shapiro or even himself. If as HC you know what changes are necessary to make your team competitive, not only do you act on it but also make sure those changes are implemented effectively. In a way, it seems that Golden and his staff continue to prolong the pity party given the hand they were dealt with fueling the ongoing feeling of complacency that has Canes Nation so irate.
4. Where is the State of Miami?
If there is something of note in the Golden era is his ability to recruit. However, the underlying failures of these past four years in that department remains lack of consistency and, dare I say it, local talent. First, under Golden’s tenure, there have been approximately 15-20 players–Golden recruits–that have either transferred, not graduated, been suspended, or taken off the team. This negatively impacts the team both on and off the field causing an immense lack of depth. While obviously Golden cannot be blamed for the actions of his players in a complete sense, it stands to reason that Golden and his staff have not fully reigned in his team on a disciplinary level or have chosen players who take for granted being at the U. This leads me to the local talent issue. For every Duke Johnson the Canes have, the Canes lose equal or greater talent to the rivals upstate or other schools. It used to be that every kid in South Florida dreaming of playing college ball looked to the U as their beacon of light, as their go-to school. Now it is anything but. Miami is a unique place with immense pride in that uniqueness. Indeed, there is a word for that: Swagger. Golden, maybe due in part to his own proclivities or to those of the school’s administration, has distanced himself from that mindset and the local talent recognize it quickly. Some argue that the Swagger talk lost all value in this day and age. However, if you are from Miami and you truly bleed orange and green, then Swagger is the ONLY way of doing things and Golden fails at fully capturing that concept.
5. Horrible Player Development
Finally, with all the abovementioned failures, the biggest one, the one that is completely on Golden and his staff, remains the abysmal player development. Tied in with the squandering of talent by the coaching on gameday, the squandering becomes even more frustrating when the coaching staff cannot develop an all around balanced team that instills fear in the opponent. Where have Stacy Coley and Tracy Howard been? Have we had any shutdown corners or safeties recently? To what extent has the success of Duke Johnson or Brad Kaaya been more about their own natural talent, desire to win, and overall appreciation for the U rather than the coaches’ preparation? Herein lies Golden’s greatest indictment, namely, he and his coaching staff hold fast to a small school, small city mentality that coach great talent to a mediocre stand still. The purpose of going to a marquee school as a football player is to enter into it with talent and come out of it a star with individual and team triumphs in tow. Golden has yet to realize he was not given the keys to a Toyota but rather to a Ferrari he consistently shows he may not be able to handle.