Blake James Sets Expectations For Al Golden

Miami Hurricanes’ athletic director Blake James just drew a line in the dirt regarding football expectations at The U, yet the cloud of negativity amongst a portion of the fan base is so thick, the majority didn’t even notice what took place.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson touched on the topic in Friday’s Buzz Column, quoting James in regards to some offseason conversations with fifth-year head coach Al Golden.

“Our conversation [this offseason] was [that] I expect us to be a winning program,” James told Jackson. “He understands those expectations and I’m confident he will get us in position to win Coastal championships, win ACC championships and ultimately win national championships.

“Let’s start with winning the Coastal. That’s something we need to do. If you win the ACC, I’ve always said, you’ve got a great chance of winning the national championship in any sport…. Let’s go out and win the Coastal because I would feel very good about where we are nationally.”

On paper it might sound like hot air—and in the end, maybe it is—but no one can deny that this is a more aggressive stance than James took last December, on the heels of a three game-losing streak as the six-loss Canes were preparing for the bowl game.

“We were 6-6 this year. Anytime you go into a season you want to win all your games. The reality is that doesn’t always happen,” James explained on a post-regular season teleconference. “Right now I think there’s one team that’s won all their games in college football. You look at every week as a new season. I know Al will have our guys ready to go for this [bowl game].”

Golden obviously didn’t have the Canes ready for said bowl game as Miami fell to South Carolina, 24-21 in the Independence Bowl.

Some more athletic director political correctness on the call:

“Overall I think there are some positives. There are some disappointments. I don’t think anyone was happy with the results in any one of the losses. Every game you go into you want to win. I think at the end of the year, with the losses to Virginia and Pittsburgh, was disappointed. As disappointing as the loss was to Florida State there was some progress made in that game.”

So what has changed over the past seven months for James to fine-tune his stance on Golden? The roadblock that was long-time president Donna Shalala stepping down, for starters.

Shalala remained loyal to Golden; paying back the loyalty he showed sticking with the program early on when blindsided by NCAA investigation news in August 2011.

While there were rumors that Shalala soured on Golden a bit in January 2014 after his 48-hour whirlwind courtship by way of his alma mater Penn State, common logic says there’s no way Shalala wanted Golden’s firing on her resume.

Furthermore there’s the whole common-courtesy thing regarding firing one coach and hiring another as a new president was stepping in. If anything, timing and circumstance bought Golden the 2015 season as much as anything else.

Dr. Julio Frenk was introduced in spring, with reports surfacing in May that Miami’s sixth president wound most-likely defer to his athletic director on sports-related matters.

Where Shalala appeared to have kept James on a short leash, Frenk is letting the up-and-coming athletic director roam free, calling his own shots (to a point, at least.)

Knowing this, James’ current stance on expectations this season makes a lot more sense.

“Al knows he needs to win. Our guys know we need to win. I know we need to win. I’m confident they are taking the steps they need to take to go out and take care of business this year,” James explained.

While none of this answers the elusive how-many-wins-necessary question regarding Golden’s future, the sentiment is pretty clear and has been verbalized—this is not a rebuilding year at the University of Miami.

“At the end of the year, we’ll look at the whole picture. You go into the season not looking to win 9 or 10 games. You go into the season looking to win every game. I hope and expect that for all of our coaches. I don’t want any one of our coaches or student athletes saying we are going to lose these four or three or two games or whatever. Let’s go win every game.”

Spoken like an athletic director who knows that his future is directly tied to the success of this football program and the moves he makes regarding the current guy in charge.



2 thoughts on “Blake James Sets Expectations For Al Golden

  1. I predict the Canes will have wins against Bethune and FAU and
    lose to Nebraska, Cincy, FSU, Clemson, Duke,VA, NC, GT, and Pitt.
    VT is a toss up. 3-10 season or maybe 4-9 if they get lucky.
    Golden just does not have the smarts for Hurricane style football.
    He is a mediocre Pennsylvania football mentality person.

    1. Have a hard time believing this is a three- or four-win team. That’s pretty brutal and this squad is better than teams Golden fielded early in his tenure when he got to at least six wins.

      The points you raise are part of a bigger philosophical question; what is Hurricane-style football in this day and age? That notion itself really doesn’t mean anything anymore. The kids that made up this program in the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s—you’re talking about a lifetime ago. Kids are simply different now; whether they’re at Miami, Florida State, Ohio State … wherever.

      Today’s freshmen were four years old when Ken Dorsey, Ed Reed, Jon Vilma, Jeremy Shockey and Andre Johnson were leading this team to its last national title.

      That’s not to say there’s a more-qualified coach out there that would be a better fit; but to label Golden some Yankee that doesn’t get the Miami style—today’s college kids as a whole don’t get the whole Hurricane-style football thing. Yeah, you get your occasional swagtastic leader-type who is cut from that old cloth—but the day’s of assembling a team like the 1986 or 2001 Canes is looooong gone. Kids as a whole are generally softer and march to a different beat.

      No way Miami loses to all those team you rattled off. (Plus, you’ve obviously trying to pad that loss column as there are only twelve games unless a bowl is reached and that doesn’t happen with less than six wins—so by your pessimistic standards, it’s be 3-9 or 4-8.)

      This is a 7-5 team at worst and arguably a 9-3 team at best, as far as the regular season looks. Miami won five games in 1997 with the combination of Ryan Clement and Scott Covington. The Canes aren’t hitting a modern-era low three or four wins with Brad Kaaya under center. Get out of here with that nonsense…

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