University of Miami athletic director Blake James and the board of trustees finally came to their senses. This past Sunday, James fired Al Golden, ending Golden's embattled tenure as the Hurricanes' head coach. It was long overdue. Now begins the search for a new coach.
UM should avoid the mistakes it made in landing Golden. First, James needs to avoid using a professional search committee like the one that rated Golden the top choice to replace Randy Shannon four-and-a-half years ago. Instead, Blake should consult a brain trust of former Hurricanes players such as Edgerrin James, Phillip Buchanon, Ray Lewis, Gino Torretta, and Jonathan Vilma. Let the ex-Canes who led the school to national championships have some input.
Second, James needs to find a coach who loves Miami and will hire assistants who can recruit South Florida high-school talent. The best coaches in college football, from Alabama's Nick Saban to Florida State University's Jimbo Fisher, have one or two guys from South Florida on their staffs. James will also have to find a head coach willing to take a little less money so the U can also pay top dollar for defensive and offensive coordinators.
While Canes interim head coach Larry Scott will have the rest of the season to prove he deserves consideration, these are the candidates James should have on his shortlist:
Mario Cristobal: The University of Alabama assistant led Florida International University to its first conference championship and bowl game before he was fired in 2012. A Cuban-American and former Miami Hurricane national champion, Cristobal would be a perfect fit.
Tim Brewster: He may be the tight ends coach for Florida State University, but Brewster has proven his worth as the Seminoles' recruiting coordinator. He's the reason star running back Dalvin Cook selected FSU over Miami. Brewster also has head coaching experience from a previous stint at the University of Minnesota.
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Dana Holgorsen: During his four-year tenure as West Virginia University head coach, Holgorsen brought in three assistants from South Florida, including the former head coaches at Miramar and Glades Central high schools.
Mark Stoops: He's legitimized the once doormat football program at the University of Kentucky and is a former Hurricanes defensive back coach who mentored star players Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Meriweather, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph and Sean Taylor.
Charlie Strong: Even though the University of Texas head coach said he is not interested in the Miami vacancy, James should still make an effort to talk to him. Strong knows how to recruit South Florida kids.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1