Five years after he took over a Temple football program that was struggling to survive as a major-college team, Al Golden was introduced Monday as the new coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
Golden, 41, was hired on Sunday afternoon. He broke the news to the Owls' players that evening after they were summoned to the team's practice facility at Edberg-Olson Hall.
Hurricanes athletic director Kirby Hocutt praised his new coach at a news conference at Miami's Newman Alumni Center.
"We were diligent and determined to find the right leader for our very proud football program," Hocutt said to an audience that included current and former Miami players. "And once we began to sit down with candidates in New York face to face, our new head coach came to the forefront very quickly. Coach Golden was the only individual this job was offered to."
Hocutt mentioned the major overhaul Golden performed at Temple, where he guided to respectability a team that had won only 22 percent of its games in the 30 years before his arrival. The Owls went 1-11 in Golden's first season, but they went 17-8 over the last two, including the Owls' first bowl appearance in 30 years. He was 27-34 in five seasons at Temple.
Miami is a five-time national champion but hasn't won it all since 2001.
After Golden read a prepared statement, he opened the floor for questions. One of the first was, "Why Miami and why now?"
"Are you kidding me?" Golden said with a chuckle as he drew applause. "It's a dream job. It's a tremendous opportunity for me and my family to build a championship here. To be honest with you, I'm the luckiest coach in America today."
Golden has not officially put together a coaching staff yet, but he said he would be evaluating the Hurricanes' coaches as well as each player on the roster in the coming weeks.
The Hurricanes, who finished the regular season with a 7-5 record under the recently fired Randy Shannon, will face Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas. Interim coach Jeff Southland will lead Miami in that game.
Golden said he would begin recruiting immediately and contacting players who already have committed to Miami. With 70 scholarship players coming back, Golden has 15 free rides to hand out this year.
National signing day is Feb. 2.
The next Owls' coach? At Temple, assistant head coach Mark D'Onofrio is the logical and most popular choice to succeed Golden.
The longtime friends played at Penn State together, and as the Owls' defensive coordinator, D'Onofrio called the signals for one of the top units in the Mid-American Conference over the last couple of seasons. According to a source who is familiar with the unfolding events, the Owls' athletic administration is comfortable with D'Onofrio, and no other candidates had surfaced as of Monday.
D'Onofrio offers continuity, which is important during this recruiting season. Before Golden's departure, seven Temple coaches were to hit the road on Monday. Whether they did was unclear as the Owls' athletic department cut off all football-related interviews for the day.
Meanwhile, in Miami, Golden met with his new players for an hour before the news conference.
"I want them to understand our goal is to win a national championship," Golden said. "That's the only expectation. That is the only standard by which they will be measured. That is their legacy."