After removing himself from consideration for similar positions at Notre Dame and Cincinnati, Temple football coach Al Golden will be back to business on the practice field today as the Owls begin preparing in earnest for their Dec. 29 date with UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington.
With the few coaching vacancies around the nation having been filled, Golden is apparently going to be at Temple for at least another year.
"I think there's relief," Golden said about no longer having his name mentioned in the media in connection with other jobs. "But we really don't live in that world.
"There were reports coming out, and my wife was saying there was this report and that report, and 'You better know that this is out there.' My wife has my back. But these reports are breaking, and I'm supposed to be in Cincinnati, and I'm not. I'm out recruiting and in kids' homes. I was in Connecticut. I was in New York City. I was here all [last] weekend, and we had 20 recruits and their families in. But I'm glad that it's over, and we're moving forward."
Golden was named Mid-American Conference coach of the year after guiding Temple to a 9-3 record that gave the program its most wins since 1979. That was the same year Temple made its most recent appearance in the postseason, taking on another Pac-10 team in California in the Garden State Bowl.
The Owls were victorious, 28-17. But they were not hearing reports about other schools wooing their coach. Golden acknowledged that he spoke with Notre Dame officials, who chose Cincinnati's Brian Kelly.
"In terms of our players, there were no distractions with that," Golden said. "I think they understand when a program like Notre Dame calls or wants to interview, you want to listen to what they have to say. There are no distractions right now. Our kids are excited about the opportunity they have."
Before UCLA hired Rick Neuheisel in '07, Golden interviewed before withdrawing his name. He had just completed his second season at Temple.
"They picked the right coach, and Rick is doing a great job" was all Golden would say about his conversations with UCLA.
After the team finished 4-8 in his first season at UCLA, Neuheisel has the Bruins back in a postseason game with a 6-6 record.
"You have two teams that were very anxious to get into a game like this," said Neuheisel, who was the offensive coordinator for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens when he decided to return to his alma mater. "I saw film on ESPN at their banquet, when they found out they were going to play us, and they were excited about it, and we're excited about it."
The Temple players, who did not practice earlier this week as they took final exams, will watch film of UCLA for the first time today and then hit the practice field.
"We're calling it a four-day minicamp," Golden said. "We'll have some double sessions in there. We'll break by 1 p.m. Monday, and the kids will get two days off. And we'll leave here on Thursday."