University of Miami

Blake James supports Al Golden, wants improvement from Miami Hurricanes

Head coach Al Golden in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Pittsburgh at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, November 29, 2014.
Head coach Al Golden in the first quarter as the University of Miami hosts Pittsburgh at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, November 29, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Saying the University of Miami football team’s 6-6 record “isn’t acceptable,” Hurricanes athletic director Blake James nonetheless reiterated Monday that Al Golden will remain the coach, decide how to handle his assistants and find a way to turn around the program.

“It’s not only the people who give money,” James said during a teleconference when asked what he would say to make donors believe the school is committed to winning. “We have a lot of people who have sent emails to me and have called me that don’t give anything and don’t buy tickets, but bleed orange and green, and I understand that.

“… To everyone who is proud to say they’re part of the U family: We’re on the road. We have to get better. Six and six isn’t acceptable for the University of Miami. We need to get better as a program, and I’m confident we have the guy that’s going to do that, and I’ll continue to support Al. … Everyone is trying to win. It’s not something that’s easy. I’m confident we’ll see better results in the future.”

James set up the teleconference with media to discuss the Duck Commander Independence Bowl to which UM was assigned Sunday by the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hurricanes (6-6, 3-5 ACC) will meet Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 27 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

STATE OF PROGRAM

Golden has not talked to media since the night of UM’s last regular-season loss to Pittsburgh and is on the road recruiting, UM said, so James fielded questions — with barely any regarding the bowl game.

James was asked about the state of the program, the fans’ discontent, the future of assistant coaches and if he believes the loss to Florida State impacted the team’s performance in the last two games.

When asked if he feels differently about the coaching staff now than he did at the same time a year ago, he said, “No,’’ but eventually added, “After I get a chance to look at the entire season, including the bowl game, I can probably answer that question better. We could go out and play an incredibly great game against South Carolina, and I’m going to feel one way. And we could go out and not come out on the end we want, and I’m going to feel a different way. It’s important to keep it in perspective. … It’s important to evaluate things holistically.”

James repeated that: “Al is our coach and is going to be our coach next year,” but he stressed that he will discuss with Golden what areas need to be addressed and what might be missing.

Said James: “I’m not going to get into telling him who our defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, running backs, wide receivers, defensive line, offensive line, linebackers, DBs — whatever the [coaching] position is,” should be. “I’ll give him my thoughts. We’ll share perspective. At the end of the day, those are his decisions.

“My decision is who’s going to be our head coach. And as I said earlier, it’s Al Golden.”

Regarding the Canes’ losses to Virginia and Pitt after playing FSU hard and tough to the end, James admitted that “without a doubt” it appeared the team wasn’t playing “at the same level” and with the same intensity.

“I felt coming out of [FSU] we’d be able to perform at a high level, and I didn’t see it from my vantage point in those final two weeks. …” he said. “We need to get that fixed and be ready to go here in a couple of weeks in Shreveport.’’

PULSE OF FANS

Finally, James talked about the fans and how he opens every email and listens to every voice mail and thoroughly appreciates the passion.

“I’ve said all along, we might not have the size of some of the bigger schools we’re compared to in terms of numbers in our fan base, but I’d put our energy and passion up against anyone. … So, when you don’t have success, obviously, they’re going to be upset and voice their frustration. And I get that,” he said.

“They’re not happy with 6-6. I’m not happy with 6-6. With that said, everyone has got different ideas as to how you fix it. I’m leaving it up to Al because I believe he will get it fixed, and that’s the person I’ll work with to continue to get it better.”

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