Last year at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff, Miami coach Al Golden got himself a bit riled up when one too many media members mentioned UM recapturing its “swagger.”
On Monday at the 2012 version, he likely would have welcomed a few more swagger conversations.
This time Golden knew exactly what to expect: NCAA-related questions about the ongoing investigation into former booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro’s relationship with the school and dozens of former Hurricanes, the latest Yahoo! Sports report that alleges through an unnamed source that Golden had “direct knowledge” of UM recruiting-related improprieties, and Monday’s blockbuster sanctions against his alma mater, Penn State.
“Sad, really sad,” he said first of the Penn State situation. “I’m going to continue to keep at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers the innocent victims and their families. Hopefully here soon it will offer a measure of closure, an opportunity for healing and a chance to move forward.”
He refused to compare Monday’s Penn State sanctions to future ones for Miami in the Shapiro case.
“I certainly don’t think you can compare our situation, any situation, to what we’re seeing or how unprecedented this is.”
Golden told The Miami Herald in an individual interview earlier Monday that his “good name” was still intact. And though he said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the Yahoo! report released Friday, he adamantly defended his integrity, as he did Friday in a written statement released shortly after the Yahoo! report surfaced.
“I stand on what I said on Friday,” Golden said. “I stand on my record of compliance with the NCAA. There will be a time to defend this and I look forward to that.”
Golden said he was having a wonderful summer with his wife and three children until Friday when he learned of the newest allegations.
His first reaction?
“Disappointment … disbelief … anger … because of how it attacked my integrity both personally and professionally,” he said. “… I can’t remember even being written up for anything [detrimental]” in 18 years of coaching.
“To be portrayed the way it was portrayed is tough. It wouldn’t hurt,’’ he said, if Yahoo! Sports would have prefaced the article by writing, ‘Here’s a guy who’s had no violations in his 18 years.’ ”
Golden said the support he’s getting from fellow coaches around the nation, the ACC, UM fans and the Miami community “means the world’’ to him. “I think that’s when you say actions speak louder than words. You are what you repeatedly do, and I hope that’s a reflection of my mom and dad and how I was raised.”
Golden said UM linebackers coach Micheal Barrow, also implicated in the Yahoo! report, is still an assistant coach. But he wouldn’t talk further about Barrow.
Golden spent most of last season pledging to bring the Canes back through hard work and doing the right things. He said that hasn’t changed.
“We just have to have a little patience, and we’ll get through this turbulent time,” he said.
Some other UM football-related news from Golden:
• Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson showed up late for a summer session, was punished internally but will not be suspended. Golden praised Henderson for being in great condition and reducing his weight from 400 pounds at the Sun Bowl in El Paso to now under 340.
• Ray-Ray Armstrong, who was dismissed from the team last week, is communicating regularly with Golden, who said he is trying to help him graduate and find a new place to play so he “can achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.” Golden wouldn’t elaborate about anything else.
• Freshman quarterback David Thompson had surgery on his throwing shoulder before arriving at UM, and “the first thing he’ll do for UM is play baseball” in October or November. “We’re going to help him rehab, and he’ll be part of our preseason camp and be in all the meetings.”
• Incoming freshman tailback Danny Dillard is “expected to be with us at training camp.” Dillard is in the final stages of getting his academics reviewed by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
• Stephen Morris or Ryan Williams is expected to be named the starting quarterback either Aug. 13 or 19, both days following scrimmages.
Additionally, The Miami Herald learned separately that freshman linebacker Josh Witt will be unable to play for UM because of a concussion-related issue.