The goal for every college football team back in August was to make it to Dallas in January.
Turns out, Al Golden made it to Dallas in January after all.
The Miami Hurricanes’ head coach — along with offensive coordinator James Coley — has spent the past couple days studying how the Dallas Cowboys run their organization from practices to meetings to drills.
The idea: learn how a successful NFL team does it, come home with fresh ideas to implement here for the future, and plot a new course that includes putting a disappointing 6-7 season behind them for good.
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“Really since the day we got back from the bowl game the message that I wanted to convey to the team was improving,” Golden said by phone Wednesday night. “Not just change for change sake, but to really identify the things we needed to improve and start to plot that course from the head coach’s perspective.”
Before arriving in Dallas on Monday, Golden said he spent every day following the bowl loss to South Carolina in his office in Coral Gables reviewing UM’s entire program. Nothing about the program, he said, is sacrosanct.
“It’s fair to say I’m evaluating every aspect, every part of the program whether that’s personnel or staff or off-season programs or how we run summer camp, spring ball, right down to our systems,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re doing things right. 2014 was unacceptable.”
Does that include changing defensive scheme? “Oh sure,” Golden said.
Golden already has many changes in mind, but he said he’s not sharing any of them with the public until the team hears it first. That will happen when everyone gets back together Sunday night.
One new thing Golden is bringing back from Texas is quarterback Vincent Testaverde, a transfer from Texas Tech. The son of Heisman Trophy-winner and former UM great Vinny Testaverde will be eligible to play immediately at UM because he was a walk-on for the Red Raiders this past season.
He will wear No. 14 — his father’s old number — for the Hurricanes. His addition fills the need for another backup quarterback after UM lost a commitment from its only quarterback recruit in the 2015 class. Testaverde is expected to backup Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Brad Kaaya and provide depth along with returning redshirt freshman Malik Rosier.
“I’m excited about him joining our program,” Golden said. “Just to hear Vinny Sr. and the pride he has in his voice to have Vincent come to The ‘U,’ it’s awesome.”
Three new arrivals were already posing for selfies at UM on Wednesday: former Miami Killian safety Jaquan Johnson, defensive lineman Scott Patchan and tight end Jerome Washington. Linebacker Charles Perry is expected to enroll Monday along with junior college offensive lineman Jahair Johnson.
Golden said he’s excited that defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, suspended for the 2014 season, and safety Rayshawn Jenkins, injured for the 2014 season, are already back with the team.
Two guys who won’t be around for spring football because they are recovering from injuries: offensive tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois.
“Everybody else should be good to go,” Golden said. “[Receiver] Herb [Waters] is going to be cleared here soon. [Kicker] Goudis will be ready by spring ball. [Offensive lineman] Hunter Knighton is making a lot of progress in his rehab, we’re hopeful to have him return sometime this spring.”
Freshman cornerback Ray Lewis transferred to Coastal Carolina on Tuesday. Golden said he doesn’t expect anybody else on UM’s roster to leave. “But at this time of year,” he cautioned. “if kids are going to leave they do leave. We’re just not anticipating it.”
With a month to go before National Signing Day, UM has 20 new recruits either committed or signed. Golden said UM won’t sign a full 25 this year because his goal is to exhaust the nine scholarships the program was docked by the NCAA for the Nevin Shapiro mess so it doesn’t affect the class of 2016.
Golden declined to discuss comments attributed to Duke Johnson’s mother late last month. Cassandra Prophet Mitchell created a stir on Facebook by saying “the majority of the team wouldn’t be there” if players could transfer without sitting out a year and that “kids [are] tired of this crap.”
A source at UM claims Mitchell reached out to Golden to say her comments “were misrepresented and the issue has been put to rest.”
“There was disappointment, but there was no finger pointing, no fighting, no dissension,” Golden said of how 2014 ended. “Nobody is discouraged. The United campaign [on Instagram and Twitter] isn’t a campaign from us the coaches or the administration. That’s a grassroots thing from the players. Those are the guys calling, texting, spreading that. Talk to our kids. They can’t wait to get going in 2015.”