Linda Robertson

Linda Robertson: Same problems persist for Miami Hurricanes under Al Golden

Is there anything salvageable from the University of Miami’s 58-0 capsize against Clemson? Any glimmer of hope?

The only one that comes to mind is that the score could have been 59-0 if Clemson’s kicker hadn’t missed an extra point.

Miami was a long shot to upset No. 6 Clemson on Saturday. But the way in which the Hurricanes lost was so deflating, so incompetent and so lifeless that the game was barely worth watching.

It was such a mutilation that you felt sorry for the players, the coaches, the cheerleaders and the marching band playing to a small audience in emptying aqua seats. You felt bad for the Hurricane Hall of Famers being celebrated on the field — and thinking, “Of all games for me to stand here and smile with pride, why this one?” Spectators departed early, concluding that yard work would be more interesting than observing Clemson use UM as a practice squad for bowl season.

Coach Al Golden had another opportunity to get that signature win. Instead, this could turn out to be his signature loss. It was UM’s worst trampling in history, and that’s going back to 1926.

Best if Golden spent the next couple of days on a desert island, with no Internet or media.

“Our pilot has as many top 25 wins. Fire Al Golden,” proclaimed the banner flying overhead.

Even more than the result, the messy and toothless performance at Sun Life Stadium poses the question burning ever hotter: What does UM athletic director Blake James do now? Does he do what the Dolphins did and pick an interim coach? Or hang Golden’s hat on his dwindling chances to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal division or go on a five-game winning streak?

Would Golden do what Steve Spurrier did at South Carolina and bail out, seeking someone else to spark the team?

It’s hard to believe James will get rid of Golden at this midseason juncture, although UM’s trustees will be clamoring at higher volume for Golden’s head.

The time to replace Golden was after the regression of the 2014 season. But James and former UM president Donna Shalala wanted to give Golden more time.

His fifth year has provided more evidence of the same problems preventing UM’s return to Top 25 status: Players stagnate, mistakes fester, deficiencies on defense don’t get fixed.

Granted, Clemson has a much better team than UM (unpleasant to swallow that fact given UM’s five national titles from 1983 to 2001). Yet Saturday’s game again illustrated one of the biggest knocks on Golden. His teams lack intensity, which seems to waft onto the field briefly then disappear, especially when they’re in the red zone or trying to stop the run. UM was 0 for 1 on its red-zone chance to score; Clemson was 6 for 6. UM converted only 4 of 18 third downs and committed seven penalties for 88 yards, mostly dumb personal fouls. UM rushed for 53 yards while yielding 416.

Clemson marched up and down the field like it was on parade, accumulating the most rushing yards in the tenure of UM defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and the most UM has allowed since 2008 against Georgia Tech. On touchdown after touchdown — six by rush — Clemson players ran into the end zone untouched.

UM consistently loses in the trenches. Quarterback Bray Kaaya was sacked and sustained a concussion on a two-man rush.

In his opening news conference, Golden said the job made him the “luckiest coach” in the world. He promised to make his players champions. In five years, love for Golden has soured to spitting disdain from hardcore supporters.

UM should have chosen a new leader many months ago. Now, it will be tough to make a switch, and it’s questionable how effective a stopgap coach could be. Recruiting ramifications complicate the picture in college football. Plus, James would be firing a coach with a winning record.

Golden and his players said yes, they were prepared, but no, they didn’t execute — the same things they always say.

“We’ll see how mentally tough we are,” Golden said. “We’ve played one division opponent. There’s a lot of football left. We’ve got to play better, coach better, execute better.”

The game brought back memories of UM’s 48-0 loss to No. 19 Virginia in 2007 in the last Orange Bowl game.

“Do you have any prescription painkillers? Or six feet of rope?” a fan asked at the concession stand.

“The coach gotta be fired now,” said a man talking on his cellphone as Clemson inserted third-string players.

Tweets poured in from abashed former Canes.

“Two-man rush sack? My lawd,” Warren Sapp tweeted. “We cheering punt? #28-0.”

Bennie Blades: “We’re being out-everythinged.”

Joaquin Gonzalez: “I’m so embarrassed! @CanesAllAccess. I would take his headset at halftime! Do not wait until the end of season, make a statement, dammit!!!!!”

Leon Searcy: “Al Golden can’t get on the bus, tell that [expletive] to get an Uber.”

That’s what UM is reduced to. Everybody gets to be Don Rickles.

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