FROM THE MOMENT he hired Al Golden to be Temple's football coach 5 years ago, athletic director Bill Bradshaw maintained that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if the former Penn State tight end ended up leaving for a BCS program sooner rather than later. Because that would mean Bradshaw had made the correct choice on the person to lead the Owls out of oblivion.
Well, that day finally has arrived on North Broad Street.
Golden is the new coach at the University of Miami, the school announced last night. Golden will replace Randy Shannon, who was fired after the Hurricanes' home loss to South Florida in the Nov. 27 regular-season finale. A press conference is scheduled for 6 o'clock tonight in Miami, when it is believed Golden will be introduced.
A source close to the situation said Golden informed his players of his decision last night. He couldn't be reached for comment.
Shannon, a former UM linebacker, went 28-22 in four seasons. The Hurricanes (7-5) will play Notre Dame (7-5) in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Interim coach Jeff Stoutland is expected to coach that game.
"Al Golden did not just win games at Temple University, but he built a football program and he did it the right way," Bradshaw said in a statement. "He engineered one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Division I history, and not only did he turn Temple football around, he did it in such a way that it will last long after his departure.
"He hands off a program that is built for success, and for that Temple University is grateful. We wish him, his wife Kelly, and his entire family all the best."
The other finalists for the position were Connecticut coach Randy Edsall and former UM assistant Marc Trestman, coach of the two-time defending CFL champion Montreal Alouettes.
Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Houston's Kevin Sumlin were also strongly considered.
If you can get it done at Temple, maybe you can succeed anywhere. We'll find out.
Sources confirmed the 41-year-old Golden, who was the defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2001 to '05, had also been high on the list of candidates for the vacancy at Pittsburgh, where Dave Wannstedt was just forced to resign after six seasons. A Pitt spokesman denied to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the school had offered the position to anyone.
Golden met twice with UM's athletic director, Kirby Hocutt, during the process, once in New York early last week and again in Philadelphia, most likely on Saturday.
"I couldn't be more excited to have him come and lead this proud football program," Holcutt told South Florida reporters. "There's nobody with more energy, excitement, enthusiasm than coach Golden. What he's done at Temple University is nothing short of miraculous. He's taken a football program that was at the bottom point of the college football world, has built them to a respectable program and is going to do great things here."
The Associated Press reported Golden is expected to receive at least a 5-year deal that could be worth nearly $10 million.
Holcutt was asked about the possibility that Golden could be interested in the Penn State job when Joe Paterno steps down.
"We talked about that and there's no doubt in my mind he will be the head coach at the University of Miami long-term," Holcutt said. "Ask him the question and hear his response. Al Golden is very loyal. He wants to be at the University of Miami. He wants to build this program back to the pinnacle of college football."
Golden inherited a program that went 0-11 in 2005 as an independent after being asked to leave the Big East a year earlier. His first team went 1-11. That was followed by seasons of 4-8, 5-7, 9-4 and 8-4. In 2009, he got the Owls into their first bowl game in 3 decades. But he never got them into the Mid-American Conference title game. In fact, he never beat a MAC team that finished with a winning record. This year's team was picked to win the conference, but, instead, finished third in the East Division. And after losing their last two games, the Owls were one of two bowl-eligible teams that didn't get an invitation.
Under Golden's leadership, Temple players also have improved academically and become more involved in community service.
He laid a foundation that should serve his successor well.
He's the first football coach to leave Temple on his own terms since Wayne Hardin retired in 1982.
Now the question is whether assistant head coach Mark D'Onofrio, who is also the defensive coordinator, will go with Golden or stay here. Should he remain, it would seem to make for a pretty seamless transition, if Bradshaw is indeed thinking that way. D'Onofrio and Golden have been tight since their college playing days at Penn State. But even Golden has acknowledged that D'Onofrio played a major role in this transformation, especially when it came to recruiting. And it could be time for him to get his shot at leading a program.
Temple can't just give D'Onofrio the job. It has to go through a search process, but could make him the interim coach in the meantime.
Ironically, Temple beat Connecticut by 14 points at home in September. But UConn wound up winning the Big East and is going to the Fiesta Bowl. And the fact that Edsall wanted to coach in that bowl game might have hurt his chances, because Miami wanted to get someone in place as quickly as possible. Golden, who would not comment on the situation at his team's awards banquet on Saturday, could have benefited by the fact that his season was over.