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Salomon: Return to Relevance? How About Miring In Mediocrity? UM Needs Wholesale Changes

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After the 28-17 thumping that the University of Miami suffered at the hands of Georgia Tech on Saturday night, the fan base is looking for someone to get fired. After Al Golden's Sunday afternoon press conference with the local media, it appears as though nothing is going to change and it is going to be business as usual in Coral Gables. It will remain this way until the Board of Trustees or Blake James and Donna Shalala step up and compel change.

Scott Cunningham

Before former University of Miami Athletic Director Kirby Holcutt saw the handwriting on the wall and bolted for Texas Tech, he said that the Hurricanes "needed some one that can lead us back to relevance in college football." He also said that "we will be relevant and we will do what it takes to get there."

With that, Holcutt hired Al Golden, who coached at Temple, and then proceeded to leave Miami for greener pastures. Texas Tech has enjoyed some modicum of success in football and won the NCAA Baseball Regional on Miami's home field by defeating the Hurricanes in June and went on to advance to the College World Series in Omaha.

Miami, meanwhile. has been mired in mediocrity and the Hurricanes are stuck with Golden, until someone decides to force a change. One of President Shalala's parting gifts to the University before she leaves should be a new coaching staff that can win games and turn this program around. The one currently installed simply cannot do it.

I have always been an ardent supporter of Golden, and I believe that if he alters his defensive philosophy and terminates his Defensive Coordinator, he can win here.  However, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  If Golden is not going to fire his friend Mark D'Onofrio, then Golden has to go too. Whatever it takes to get rid of D'Onofrio, the Canes have to be prepared to do.  Either Blake James orders the D'Onorfio firing, or he cleans house. At this point in the season, what is left to be saved?  Recruits are not going to come to UM to play for D'Onofrio or Golden. They want to come here and be a part of the U.

The fan base is outraged and the former players are flabbergasted. Instead of returning to relevance and prominence, Miami is toiling in the gutter and bragging about wins over Florida A&M and Arkansas State.

Joaquin Gonzalez, a former UM lineman, who has won a national title as a Hurricane, has taken to Twitter and local radio, The Ticket 104.3 FM, to voice his discontent with Golden.

"You walk the halls at the Hecht and everybody from equipment staff, weight room, training room, can't believe some of the crap this guy does," Gonzalez said via Twitter on Sunday. "This program needs a Butch Davis type coach. No, Bull____, get to work and when you are tired of working, work some more."

Gonzalez went on to attack Coach D'Onofrio and made his point known that his problem is with the staff and not with the players.

"I think it's time for a new defensive coordinator. If he (Golden) has balls, he lets him go immediately, but that won't happen. AD (James) can make it happen."

Golden acknowledged on his phone call on Sunday with the media that he blocks out what the media report and what the fan base and former players are saying.

"I don't listen to anything," Golden said. "I never have."

Maybe it is time that Golden starts listening to what is being said, before he finds himself out of a job or, worse, the head coach of a team that is stuck with two-star recruits that no one wants to play for.

Against Georgia Tech, Miami's defense faced the same triple option that it has always faced.  There might have been a few new wrinkles, but for the most part, it was the same offense that Paul Johnson has run since he was the head coach at Navy.  Miami knew the plays and still could not stop it.  I asked Golden flat out how they could not stop what they expected to see, play after play, and he literally said that there were plays that they did not expect. How many could there have been, three, maybe four?  They knew the fullback was going to get the dive more often than not and they could not stop it. They know that a wheel route in the triple option is a distinct possibility and they could not stop it.

Golden basically had the GT playbook and still could not stop them on defense.  They essentially run the same four or five plays, over and over again.  He compared the fact that Miami yielded fewer yards this year to the Jackets than they did last season in a 45-30 victory at home. Big deal. Last year's defense was also atrocious.

"They gave us a lot of things that we hadn't seen before," Golden said on Sunday. "They made more plays. They protected the ball better than we did and were better on third-down than we were."

How many times are we expected to hear, "we have to get better and it starts with me," from Golden after a game that Miami gets blown out? That is Golden's Sunday mantra. We hear that every week. Enough is enough.

When does the insanity end and we just cut ties and start over again?

This morning, while appearing for his weekly segment on The Joe Rose Show on WQAM-560AM in Miami, Golden was defensive about his team and his position after the loss at Georgia Tech. Rose questioned him about the defense and was asking hypothetical questions and Golden got awfully defensive.

"You're asking about my team," Golden said. "We need to cover the wheel route (the 3rd and 15 that Miami gave up in the second half) and get off the field. We left them on the field too long.

"We blew it. I understand everyone's criticism, we didn't win the game," Golden said. "There is a lot of blame to go around."

The problem is that Golden is looking at the players as the source of the problems. It is the coaches that need to put them in a position to win and to be successful. They are the ones that are supposed to be teaching these kids. It just is not happening.  How many Canes are succeeding in the NFL, despite not seeing much playing time at UM? Is that the player's problem, or is that a coaching problem?

Golden was also critical of the offense that had two turnovers in the red zone, one late in the game.

"We threw two red zone interceptions that cost us greatly as we only had seven possessions. We have to do better as a team."