Al Golden canâ€™t win for winning. Todayâ€™s Inquirer has an article citing the terror of University of Miami football fans that the former Temple football coach will ask to have his five-year contract truncated.
Why would Al Golden do such a thing? Well, because he walked into a total shitstorm at Miami, whose higher-ups inexplicably claim they were completely unaware that the NCAA was investigating the schoolâ€™s intimate relationship with a felonious booster named Nevin Shapiro, who, while he was racking up a $900 million Ponzi scheme (for which heâ€™s now in jail), dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on Miami football players and recruits, including such swag as jewelry, an abortion, and bounties for hurting opposing players. Go, â€™Canes!
And Al Golden might want a shorter contract because â€¦ well, because those sorts of shenanigans are profoundly distasteful to him.
When I interviewed Golden for a 2008 profile, I found him downright Reagan-esque in his sincerity and straightforwardness and conviction. He turned Templeâ€™s dormant football team from laughingstock to winner in less than half a decade, emphasizing all the right things: honor, integrity, teamwork, leadership. All, not coincidentally, are traits he personally exemplifies. Heâ€™s so Eagle Scout that you sort of want to laugh at him, except that heâ€™s actually in on the joke. He knows heâ€™s rare and square, and he doesnâ€™t care.
Which is why the revelations about Shapiroâ€™s illicit entanglement with the team for eight long years must have stung like Icy Hot on pad-chafed skin. Or, as expressed by Goldenâ€™s agent, Brett Seniorâ€”his agent, by the way, since Golden played at Penn State back in 1991, not some hot new agent hired once Temple started winningâ€”it was â€śunsettling to say the leastâ€ť that Golden wasnâ€™t told about the NCAA investigation before he was hired. â€śI have to question the professionalism of that,â€ť Senior added.
But see, hereâ€™s the thing. Senior also took pains to assure the â€™Cane faithful that Al Golden isnâ€™t going anywhere else, not even with the perfectly understandable excuse that Miami hired him under blatantly false pretenses. â€śHeâ€™s got a five-year contract,â€ť Senior said. â€śHeâ€™s there to honor the contract. Heâ€™s the real thing.â€ť And Miami trustee Paul DiMare, who was instrumental in bringing Golden on, was right on board: â€śKnowing the history of most coaches,â€ť he allowed, â€śIâ€™d worry. Knowing the history of this person and his character, I donâ€™t worry about it.â€ť
What that really means is that Miami made a damned smart hire. Al Golden wonâ€™t walk away from this mess that isnâ€™t of his making because heâ€™s Al Golden. Youâ€™ve got to wonder at the bitter irony of that.