In the midst of a second round of speculation that University of Miami football coach Al Golden might still be a candidate for the Penn State vacancy, Hurricanes athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald in a text message Wednesday that he still was in “regular communication” with the coach and seemed optimistic he will stay.
“I stand by my statement I have made all along,” James said in the text. “Al and I are in regular communication. He is our football coach and I believe he will be our coach going forward.”
Last weekend, Golden was the subject of intense speculation that he was leaving the Hurricanes for his alma mater Penn State. Two sources close to the situation confirmed to the Miami Herald that Golden spoke with Penn State about the job Saturday — one saying that Penn State officials flew to Opa-locka Executive Airport to meet with Golden to discuss the opening.
Late Sunday afternoon, Golden released this statement: “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.”
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On Monday, Golden met with the media for a previously scheduled news conference and refused to mention Penn State or talk about other schools.
“I’m here, and I plan to be a coach at the University of Miami,” he said. “I never speculate on any other programs, and we’re ready to move forward.”
Since then, though, a Philadelphia NBC affiliate station posted Tuesday night in a tweet that it had learned Penn State still considers Golden in play for its job.
South Florida sports talk shows were active Wednesday with Al Golden speculation. Sports radio host Marc Eisenberg of WMEN 640 AM began posting tweets Tuesday night about receiving a phone call from an unnamed source that Golden would be leaving for Penn State. Among his posts on Twitter, Eisenberg said Wednesday morning, “A little birdie told me that Al Golden MAY be leaving #Canes Friday for #PennState. I can not confirm nor deny that phone call.”
At about 6 p.m. Wednesday, Blue White Illustrated, an affiliate of rivals.com, reported “there will be an announcement [Thursday]” regarding the naming of Penn State’s next coach. The publication also said the next coach was on his way to Penn State, but did not name him.
Besides Golden, the candidates who reportedly interviewed for the job were Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, Penn State interim head coach Larry Johnson, Sr., and most recently, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
In other UM news, assistant athletic director for communications Chris Yandle said early enrollee Braxton Berrios of Raleigh, N.C., arrived Wednesday to begin his college career in time to participate in spring football practice.
It is not known how many others will arrive Wednesday, if any. Randy McDermott, the father of incoming enrollee Kc McDermott, told the Herald his son and likely some of the eight expected early enrollees are coming Thursday or Friday, as the enrollment process was delayed because the South Florida schools were on break and transcripts arrived late.
Also on Wednesday night, Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo, a rising senior, posted on Twitter, “To end all the rumors, I will return for my final season at Miami, let’s make it a good one.”