Golden looking ahead to Miami in 2013
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- Miami coach Al Golden's office sits above the Hurricanes' weight room. He can see and hear just about everything that happens when his team is going through its workouts.
And with the offseason program under way, Golden said what's going on during those sessions is "almost perplexing."
He meant that in the best possible way. Instead of being down about one season ending, his team, he said, is already eager for what's coming next.
Golden wrapped up his second year at Miami on Tuesday, insisting that he and his staff are "not going anywhere," giving defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio -- whose group gave up more points and yards this season than any team in school history -- a strong vote of confidence. Golden laid out part of his recruiting plan and above all else, said his young team this year will be even better in 2013.
"Despite all of the things that we were not this year -- and we were not a lot -- there's a lot of things we need to correct, which is good," Golden said. "We could have been in the championship game. You've got to give yourselves that opportunity. I think those kids see that now. Got to give yourselves those opportunities, and the way you do that is eliminate the things that cause you to lose and eliminate distractions. So I think there's a sense of excitement."
Miami finished the season at 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division. The Hurricanes would have been in the ACC championship game this weekend if not for a second consecutive self-imposed postseason ban prompted by a lengthy NCAA investigation into the school's compliance practices.
Instead of getting ready for Florida State, the Hurricanes are already in the weight room, getting ready for Florida Atlantic -- next year's first opponent.
"We're just trying to move forward," Golden said. "We are. We're just trying to move forward. We have a great group coming back. I'm excited. I hope our fans are excited."
Some of Golden's strongest comments Tuesday were about D'Onofrio, his longtime friend. Miami's defense was often criticized this season, after giving up 366 points and 5,842 yards in 12 games.
Golden said Miami's youth and inexperience on defense played a huge role in those numbers.
"Mark should be as mad as anybody," "Imagine coming to the University of Miami and having to play a bunch of kids. Imagine being saddled with that. He's the one who should be mad. ... And he is mad. And he's going to fight. Everybody wants this change or that change. He ain't a quitter. He's not a quitter. None of us are. This staff will be together."
Miami should bring back 20 starters -- quarterback Stephen Morris and ACC rookie of the year Duke Johnson among them -- next season. If Golden has his way, the entire coaching staff would be back as well. Golden has met with about 50 or 60 potentially returning players since the Hurricanes' season ended with a 52-45 win at Duke over the weekend, including those who are draft-eligible underclassmen.
Five players left early last season, with three getting drafted much later than they expected and one not getting taken in the draft at all. Last year, after the draft, Miami instituted a policy forbidding players and their families from speaking with agents until a player's eligibility was exhausted or that player had permission from the university for such a conversation.
In short, Golden would prefer players wait to see what the NFL advisory committee tells a player about his draft status, instead of relying on the word of prospective agents.
"Some guys left for 20 cents on the dollar," Golden said. He said the policy, which was modeled after what some other schools use, was designed to "protect our young men because clearly, some guys, it was tough on them last year. ... I think there was some misinformation last year."
So while recruiting his own players to stay, Golden is also recruiting new ones, of course. Miami expects to sign about 15 players this winter, some of whom will be on campus when the second semester starts in January, and add them to a crop of about 14 redshirted players and all the returnees.
Golden said the looming NCAA sanctions aren't often asked about by prospects. Miami sat out a bowl last year, then the ACC title game and another bowl -- possibly the Orange Bowl -- this season, so there are many in the Hurricanes camp hoping that the worst is over, at least when it comes to postseason eligibility.
"I think we're on the right kids," Golden said. "We've been honest with them. I think they know where they stand. ... There's not really a lot of concerns. We made a significant sacrifice here. It wasn't just one postseason game -- it was three postseason games, it was a chance to play in a championship game, and obviously a chance to play our archrival and play in a BCS game. So we've given up significantly and we're moving forward."
Golden said he does not plan to watch Georgia Tech -- which got into the game because Miami chose not to play -- meet Florida State for the ACC title.
"I hope I'm at a recruiting dinner, trying to get someone that's going to help us get into that game," Golden said. "Again."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)