Feb 12, 2010, 3:00 PM EDT
After days of speculation regarding his future with Temple University, Al Golden has reportedly accepted an offer from the University of Miami to take over as the Hurricane's head football coach. Rumors abounded at the Liacouras Center, this afternoon, during the basketball Owls victory over Akron concerning the situation and the possibility that Golden might actually leave. Just a few hours later, those rumors were unfortunately confirmed. The terms of the deal have yet to be announced.
Needless to say, it's been a rough few weeks for the Temple program. After finishing the season with two bitterly disappointing losses to MAC rivals Ohio and Miami (OH), the Owls' chances of securing a bowl game became increasingly bleak. Indeed, Temple would end its 2010 campaign as one only of two bowl eligible institutions not to receive a year-end invitation. Now, just one week later, the athletic department will need to turn its attention away from rationalizing the bowl snub and toward the search for a new head coach.
As for the man himself, it's pretty hard to say anything negative. Al Golden single-handedly rescued the Temple program from the river Styx, and led the Owls to their first bowl game in thirty years. His name had previously been attached to literally every major coaching opportunity in the country since arriving on North Broad, and it was only a matter of time before he left for the bigger, better deal. Locally, the most popular scenario featured Golden waiting out his mentor and former coach Joe Paterno to return home to Happy Valley. While that's certainly not off the table, Al will be spending the foreseeable future in a considerably warmer climate.
Personally, situations like this have always been one of my least favorite aspects of college football. There is absolutely nothing to prevent coaches from skipping town in the blink of an eye, leaving their former programs and recruits in a lurch. Say what you will about figureheads like Paterno and Bowden in their later years, but the Nittany Lions and Seminoles have been the mark of continuity for decades.
To clarify, I am by no means calling Al Golden individually irresponsible. He made himself marketable, waited for the right moment, and cashed in on the biggest opportunity of his career. Bravo.
My gripe is that coaches are not held to the length of their contracts. Even after TU "re-signed" Golden last spring for another "five years," I rolled my eyes here on TheLevel. After all, what does any contract mean if neither party is really subject to its terms? Each offseason functions, in effect, like an "option."
Ultimately, it is the student-athletes recruited by these coaches who suffer the most. So many of these kids are sold on a school by their rapport with that institution's head coach. What are they to do after that guy leaves? Transferring carries with it a minefield of eligibility issues, and, hint, it's not always all that academically convenient, either. Here's the point: coaches have an almost unlimited freedom of movement, whereas the student-athletes whom they recruit do not. It's an unjust system, plain and simple.
Though my crystal ball is a little fuzzy right now, it's hard to imagine the Owls not taking a step back from their rapidly advanced position within the next few years.
But, hey, look at it this way: at least he didn't hold an hour-long special to announce he was "taking his talents to South Beach." Good luck, Al, and thank you. Temple will miss you.
(Photo by Rumph./Associated Press)
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