UM coach Al Golden got past NCAA violations in his sales pitch to recruits last season. Will it work moving forward with the latest allegations?
Even with NCAA investigators on campus and potential sanctions facing his program, the one thing University of Miami football coach Al Golden kept selling for the Hurricanes last season was a bright future.
“From what I know, I’ve signed on because I think we’re moving forward,” Golden said last November, two days after the Hurricanes ended their season 6-6 and his contract was extended through the 2019 season.
“We sat kids, had them reinstated, [gave up] a bowl game ... from what I know we’re moving forward ... the worst part is behind us.”
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That sales job worked in 2012 as UM signed 33 recruits, 31 of whom are already on campus (running back Danny Dillard and receiver Angelo Jean-Louis are the exceptions).
But will it work moving forward? New allegations in a Yahoo! Sports report released Friday implicated Golden and special teams coordinator Micheal Barrow as having direct knowledge of improper involvement between former UM equipment manager Sean “Pee Wee” Allen and Miami recruits — including four players currently on the roster.
Although Golden responded Friday by saying he stands by his record of compliance and any inferences or suggestions that his conduct was anything but ethical are simply false, the new allegations and ongoing investigation — now in its 16th month according to the NCAA — could cast an even darker cloud over the program and its continued rebuilding efforts.
“I guess if you want to look at the bright side, they’re only going to sign 13 to 15 kids in this next class anyway,” Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services said of Miami.
“But [the new allegations] aren’t going to help them nationally. The reality is they’re going to have to just stay local probably and land the top kids who want to go there.”
UM currently has eight recruits committed in its 2013 class — three of whom are from out of state. Quarterback Kevin Olsen, the younger brother of former Hurricanes tight end Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers), is the most highly touted among them. The 6-3, 196-pound senior at Wayne Hills High in New Jersey is the eighth-best pro-style quarterback in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Olsen couldn’t be reached for reaction to the latest allegations, but Fishbein believes there is a good chance Olsen will stay committed to UM because of the family’s connection to the school.
“He’s a good quarterback they desperately need,” Fishbein said. “As far as I guys they’ll lose, South Plantation running back Alex Collins will probably end up at Florida State or Wisconsin. As far as pickups, I think you’ll see them add Miami Southridge safety Jamal Carter, Miami Northwestern cornerback Artie Burns and Fort Lauderdale University defensive tackle Maquedius Bain.
“I don’t think they’ll get offensive tackle Denver Kirkland or outside linebacker Matthew Thomas out of Booker T.”
Burns, considered the 13th best cornerback in the country by Rivals.com, is supposed to choose between UM, Louisville, Florida, Florida State and LSU on Monday. Carter, considered the 18th best safety in the country by Rivals.com, has also said he’ll make his decision soon.
“Getting both of those guys would be huge for UM after they did so well to get Tracy Howard and Deon Bush last year,” Fishbein said. “Most fans think they’re going to solve all the problems in one year. But it’s going to take two to three good recruiting years to clean up the mess they had here. Hopefully for them, this news doesn’t push Burns or Carter away.”
Miramar High’s Jermaine Grace, rated the country’s 18th best outside linebacker by Rivals, said Saturday UM remains high on his list. But he also said he hadn’t read the Yahoo! report yet and didn’t know about the new allegations.
“I’m going to have to check that out,” Grace said. “Everything I’ve heard from [former Miramar teammates] Tracy Howard and Malcolm Lewis is that everything down at UM is awesome. I plan on going to see them Aug. 12.”
South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead, who has two seniors currently being recruited by Miami, said “everything will depend on how the investigation goes.”
“But I’ll tell you this, kids want to play for championships. Coach Golden has been selling that since he took over. If something changes and they can’t play for them, guys are just going to decide to go elsewhere.”