University of Miami football coach Al Golden staying with the Hurricanes

Al Golden released a statement Sunday, closing the book on speculation he might leave UM to coach at his alma mater Penn State.

01/06/2014 12:01 AM

02/27/2014 12:09 AM

The silence was broken just before 4 p.m. Sunday.

Al Golden is staying at the University of Miami.

The Miami Hurricanes football coach released this statement Sunday afternoon:

“There has been much speculation concerning my future at the University of Miami. While I am flattered that our progress at The U during an extremely difficult period of time is recognized, I am also appreciative of just what we have here at UM and I am not a candidate for another position. We are eager to welcome our student athletes back to campus next week and visit with prospective student-athletes and their families beginning January 15.”

Golden was the subject of intense speculation that he was leaving the Hurricanes for Penn State, his alma mater.

“I’m just happy that he finally came out and said something, but I never thought that it was true,” said a person close to an assistant UM coach.

At about the same time Golden’s statement was announced on HurricaneSports.com, the official website of UM athletics, assistant coaches were notified by text that they were to gather Monday for a meeting that was previously scheduled.

A postseason news conference with Golden is still set for 12:30 p.m. Monday.

“I look forward to the continued growth of our football program under Al’s leadership,” UM athletic director Blake James said Sunday night in a text message to the Miami Herald.

Golden, 44, was a Penn State tight end who graduated in 1991. He was reported to be one of three candidates the Nittany Lions were pursuing to replace former coach Bill O’Brien, just hired by the Houston Texans.

The other candidates: Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and Mike Munchak, who was fired by the Tennessee Titans and played at Penn State. ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortenson reported Sunday that Munchak was scheduled to interview with Penn State on Sunday.

Two sources close to the situation confirmed to the Miami Herald that Golden did indeed speak with Penn State about the job on Saturday, but an agreement was never reached.

It is unknown whether Golden was offered the job, though Penn State beat writer Bob Flounders of the Harrisburg Patriot-News tweeted Sunday evening, “I’m told by a PSU source I trust that Al Golden was never offered the Lions’ head coaching job. Never.”

Golden has been with Miami for three seasons, posting records of 6-6, 7-5 and most recently 9-4 — including a 36-9 loss to Louisville on Dec. 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. It was UM’s first bowl game after self-imposing NCAA-related postseason bans in 2011 and 2012.

After UM posted Golden’s statement, incoming recruit Braxton Berrios wrote on Twitter: “WE ALL STAND WITH THE U!! It’s a canes thing, you guys just wouldn’t understand.”

Cassandra Mitchell, the mother of UM star running back Duke Johnson, said when she “heard the news, I texted Coach Golden and told him, ‘Thank you.’ It shows stability and a commitment to the team.”

Incoming offensive lineman Kc McDermott, a four-star recruit from Palm Beach Central and the younger brother of UM center Shane McDermott, was thrilled Golden is staying, according to his dad, Randy. He reports to Coral Gables to begin his college career on Wednesday.

“Like I said before, we love Al Golden and we love his wife Kelly,’’ Randy McDermott said. “Kc is very happy.”

Miami Booker T. Washington High defensive end Chad Thomas said he first began hearing rumors about Golden possibly heading to Penn State when he played in the Under Armour All-American game earlier this week.

“I called Coach and asked him what was going on,” said Thomas, widely considered UM’s top defensive recruit.

“Coach [Jethro] Franklin, [Micheal] Barrow and Golden told me to just concentrate on the things I could handle and things would work out.”

Thomas admits he was a little nervous and although he considered himself “a 100 percent commitment to Miami,” a potential coaching change would throw a curveball into Miami’s future. Thomas said he was relieved when he found out Sunday that Golden was staying.

“I know we have a special class coming in and I didn’t know what would happen if Coach Golden left,” Thomas said. “I’m glad he isn’t going anywhere. I know the rise back to the top is going to happen, and it’s going to be special. I want to be a part of it.”

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

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