Amid uncertainty, UM athletic director believes Al Golden will stay

01/05/2014 12:01 AM

02/27/2014 12:09 AM

Another day of silence from Al Golden. Another day of uncertainty in the world of University of Miami football.

While Hurricanes fans, players, recruits and their families wondered Saturday about the future of the Miami football program, Golden – the subject of speculation that he is contemplating leaving UM to coach at his alma mater Penn State – remained mum.

But UM athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald in a text message that he had been in “regular communication’’ with Golden, and seemed optimistic that Golden will stay.

“Al and I are in regular communication,’’ James said Saturday in the text. “He is our football coach and I believe he will be our coach going forward. Go Canes!”

James became the first UM official to speak publicly about the situation.

UM President Donna Shalala, reached by email Saturday night, said, “We don’t know anything yet.’’

Earlier in the day, a person close to the Miami football program told the Miami Herald that Penn State officials were scheduled to fly to Opa-Locka Executive Airport on Saturday morning to meet with Golden about the vacancy.

Meanwhile, players, parents and even assistant coaches wondered about what would happen next. In the past when similar coaching situations arose, Golden would eventually squash the speculation with a statement.

But there has been no such statement.

One top recruit, rivals.com four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic, changed his mind about Miami Saturday for his new leader LSU. Valentine told Nola.com at the Army All-American game, “Until Al Golden says he’s staying, I’m decommiting from Miami.’’"

But the father of UM junior center Shane McDermott and Shane’s younger brother Kc, a 6-6, 301-pound offensive lineman who is reporting to UM this week to begin his Hurricanes career, said he understood the situation.

“I love Al Golden – just love the guy,’’ said Randy McDermott. “We have an affinity for the current coaching staff, so in that respect it would be disappointing. But it doesn’t change the fact that Kc and the [other incoming recruits] will still get a degree from the University of Miami and will be Cane for life.

“We selected the University of Miami. That’s the No. 1 rule in recruiting. You pick the school you want to go to. Coaches change. I’ve been around them all my life. Never, ever, ever select a coach.’’

When asked how Kc was dealing with the situation, his dad said, “He’s as OK as you can be knowing that, ‘Hey, you’re enrolling in college in four days and you don’t know who your coaches are.’’’

Another parent of a current player said that the last time the players had talked to Golden was right after the bowl game Dec. 28, and that a team meeting had previously been scheduled for next Saturday.

Golden, 44, was a tight end at Penn State and graduated from there in 1991.

If he is offered the job, which online site rivals.com reported Friday, Golden is expected to make a lot more money in State College. He would replace Bill O’Brien, who left after two seasons to take the coaching job with the Houston Texans and made nearly $3.3 million.

Though UM is a private school and does not disclose terms of its coaches’ contracts, it is believed Golden makes about $2.1 million. Penn State was paid a $6.48-million buyout from the Texans, and could boost his salary substantially.

Among the candidates Penn State reportedly also is targeting is Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, whose Commodores defeated Houston 41-24 Saturday in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported Saturday that the Washington Redskins have requested an interview with Franklin. Multiple reports said the Cleveland Browns also requested permission to talk to Franklin.

In other news Saturday, former Penn State offensive lineman Mike Munchak was fired by the Tennessee Titans and could become another candidate for the Nittany Lions job.

Candidates to replace Golden, if he should leave, would include former Hurricanes tight end and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, fired Sunday by the Cleveland Browns after one season; former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal, an ex-UM player and assistant; and former UM defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.

Former UM head coach Butch Davis (1995-2000) would be another option. The past two years, Davis was a special assistant to Schiano at Tampa Bay.

"I’ve said a multitude of times that I regret having left the University of Miami and if there were ever an opportunity I would certainly love to be considered as a candidate for the coaching position,’’ Davis told the Herald on Saturday night.

Miami Herald sports writers Michelle Kaufman and Manny Navarro contributed to this report.

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