When the Univeristy of Miami re-upped Al Golden's contract after a generally encouraging 2011 season and in the midst of the Nevin Shapiro scandal, the school passed its first test as it attempts to prove that it's willing and/or able to make some financial committments necessary to keep the football team anywhere near the upper echelon of the NCAA. But that was just test number one, and the next one will come sooner rather than later.
Jedd Fisch's first season as offensive coordinator at Miami was one of the most surprising and positive developments of the early part of the Al Golden era. Fisch inhereted a talented offense that was as successful as Miami had since the days of Ken Dorsey, but he was able to improve the unit's efficiency while also remedying a few problems that Mark Whipple and Randy Shannon could never really figure out, namely cutting down Jacory Harris' interceptions and getting production out of Tommy Streeter. Fisch is going to be in demand, and if Miami wants to keep him, they will have to pay him. And that might have to be this offseason.
Fisch's name has been attached recently to a job opening with the Chicago Bears, who are looking for a passing game coordinator to work with offensive coordinator Mike Tice. Fisch reportedly turned down an offer to coordinate the Seattle Seahawks' offense a day after he accepted the job at Miami, so unless the Bears give him a substantial raise, it's hard to see that rumor as anything more than wishful thinking on Chicago's part or a blatant attempt to get Fisch a raise at Miami on behalf of his agent.
But nonetheless, Fisch's name is starting to pop up around openings, and everyone at UM should be concerned about losing him. Though I don't see him in Chicago next year, if I was Will Muschamp he would certainly be on my shortlist for the opening at Florida, and he may very well end up being a candidate there. That said, in all likelihood, Fisch will be back at UM in 2012, and if he can squeeze anything substantial out of a Miami offense that is losing its starting quarterback, running back, top two wide receivers and best offensive lineman, he will be in demand by bigger schools and pro franchises with deeper pockets. If Fisch has his eyes on the biggest paycheck or an opening in the NFL, he will leave UM eventually. But if he wants to stay at Miami and is willing to do so in exchange for a bump in his salary, then UM's athletic department is going to need to pass test number two.