Al Golden is out of excuses. As the coach's University of Miami Hurricanes gear up for the September 5 opening home game versus Bethune-Cookman University, there's little reason to believe the team will make the national championship playoffs.
Last year, UM's marketing team came up with a clever slogan about "bringing the swagger back." Free of the sanctions brought on by the Nevin Shapiro scandal, Golden was optimistic. His sycophants said he would beat Florida State University, win at least ten games, and claim an ACC title.
It never happened.
Golden is entering his fifth year as head coach. So far, he has posted a record as dismal as his predecessor's. Last year, a team that featured seven players drafted into the NFL finished 6-7.
And it's not getting easier for Golden. All-time running back Duke Johnson and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett left for the pros, so starting quarterback Brad Kaaya doesn't have the same level of talent around him he had last season.
Joe Yearby, a sophomore who led Miami Central High to a state title, was supposed to be Johnson's heir apparent. But he hasn't been able to solidify the starter's spot. Dalvin Cook, Yearby's former backup at Miami Central, is already a star at Florida State — the only team from the Sunshine State rated in the top 20. Cook ran for more than 1,000 yards his freshman season last year.
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The defense is supposed to be solid with players like defensive end Trent Harris — a four-star recruit who picked the U over the Florida Gators — and cornerback Artie Burns, one of the fastest 400-meter hurdlers in the world. But if Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio keep running schemes they used at Temple University, the Canes won't win more than six games.
So far, Golden has been as disappointing as his predecessor, Randy Shannon. If Golden were black, he would have been fired following the ugly loss to South Carolina in the Independence Bowl. It seems the coach has a lifeline with athletic director Blake James and the school's board of trustees.
But this could still be the end if Golden doesn't change his coaching style. I don't see that happening. The swagger is dead.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.