Former Temple football coach Al Golden began the next phase of his career yesterday, some 1,500 miles south of North Broad Street. He spoke for 10 minutes and answered questions for another 20. He did not mention Temple once by name. The lone reference was historical.

"I told [his wife Kelly] 5 years ago there would be a day like this," Golden said.

Five years ago, he was being introduced in his first head-coaching job. This time, he called it a dream job.

Can you blame him? At 41, after turning the Temple program from a punch line into, well, a program, he's been put in charge of restoring Miami to its former glory.

This assignment is a little different. Yet he wasn't backing away from the seeming all-or-nothingness of it. He said all the things you expected him to say.

"I'm honored to be here and humbled to be here," Golden said. "It's a tremendous time [to be here]. We've got the infrastructure, the power and the energy to get back to national prominence. It's time we put it all together. There's a tradition here of winning national championships. There is no other standard by which we'll be measured.

"That's the legacy. That's the way it was."

Golden replaces former Hurricanes linebacker Randy Shannon, who was fired after a 7-5 season and a 28-22 4-year run.

"It's the right time . . . [for him to] lead us back to the top of the college football world," athletic director Kirby Hocutt said. "He has a game plan to achieve excellence.

"Five years ago, he accepted one of the greatest challenges in all of college football. Now he's accepting one of the great opportunities in all college sports."

The expectations will be enormous. At Temple, it was about becoming relevant. On the east coast of South Florida, it's about not ending up in another Sun Bowl.

The one-time Penn State tight end won't change. He'll do all the same things he did at Temple, because it worked. Now it just has to work on a much larger stage.

He wasn't going to be a Temple lifer. That's not the way his profession works. He was auditioning for a moment like this from the time he became an Owl. It was a matter of when and where. So, now we know.

This time, a whole lot more people will be paying attention.

"This is the greatest brand in college football," Golden insisted. "My job is . . . to win championships. We have to be champions in the classroom, in the community and on the field. My commitment is to play the way Hurricanes play.

"We will return [to the glory days]."

Because really, nothing less will suffice. But, like Rudy, he's been preparing for this his whole adult life. The only thing left is to make the most of it.

"It's been an incredible journey the last 5 years," Golden said. "I've learned anything is possible, if you have the right plan, the right execution, the right culture. But the most important thing is to have the right people.

"We're going to fight for every student-athlete in the state of Florida. The bottom line is we're going to put the right group together. It's players first, then the plays. We're going to see what's under the hood here, get the talent into the game."

He won't fail for lack of preparation. Or confidence. Maybe the only thing that's changed in 5 years is the destination.

"When you enter the profession, they want to label you as either an X-and-O guy or a recruiting guy," Golden said. "The best coaches in the business are great at both . . .

"To be honest, I'm the luckiest coach in America today."

Not that long ago, he was just a guy tackling an impossible gig.

The more defining journey could just be starting.

So, is anyone up for a home-and-home with Temple? *