After the Hurricanes’ 58-0 loss to No. 6 Clemson on Saturday, University of Miami Athletic Director Blake James reiterated that he was not inclined to make a coaching change.
But as of Sunday, Miami coach Al Golden was out. UM fired him after five years.
The loss was the most lopsided in UM’s 90 years as a program, turning up the heat on Golden to a level heretofore unseen. While Miami (4-3, 1-2 ACC) can still achieve its oft-stated goal of winning the Coastal Division, it still has to play No. 23 Duke (6-1, 3-0), North Carolina (6-1, 3-0) and No. 25 Pittsburgh (6-1, 4-0) on the road. It hosts Georgia Tech and Virginia, programs that have struggled this season but beat Miami last year.
Here are a few candidates that would make sense for UM to consider (in alphabetical order):
Rob Chudzinski, associate head coach, Indianapolis Colts: If Indy fires Chuck Pagano (another former Cane; he coached defensive backs from 1995-2000), the 2014 UM Sports Hall of Famer could come home. The 47-year-old’s head coaching resume is not long – he was fired by the Cleveland Browns after one season, 2013 – but has plenty of experience at UM (player 1986-90, graduate assistant 1994-95, tight ends 1996-2000, offensive coordinator 2001-03). He remains very popular among his contemporaries and could potentially bring in a who’s-who of assistants from several eras. (Pagano is an interesting name to consider as well.)
Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach, Alabama: A favorite of UM alum and Fox Sports writer Bruce Feldman, who says he’s the “most viable option,” The 45-year-old won two titles as an offensive lineman at Miami (1989-92). Developed a reputation as a strong South Florida recruiter when he took FIU (0-12 the year before he took over) to its first winning season (7-6 in 2010) and Sun Belt Conference championship. Was fired in 2012 after going 3-9 – a move some saw as an overreaction by AD Pete Garcia. It left him with a 27-47 mark. He was hired by Golden in Jan. 2013 as tight ends coach and associate head coach, but left for Alabama six weeks later. (Feldman, by the way, admits Jimmy Johnson is his pipe-dream candidate).
Butch Davis, longtime college coach and current ESPN analyst: Few, if any, potential candidates would have the resume of Davis, who was UM’s defensive line coach under Jimmy Johnson (1984-88), followed him to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and returned to resurrect the Hurricanes from the nadir of NCAA trouble. He was 51-20 at UM from 1995-2000. Larry Coker guided the 2001 Hurricanes — the team Davis constructed — to one of the greatest seasons in college football history. Potential negatives are his age (63) and the way his four-year tenure ended at North Carolina (fired in 2011 amid NCAA scandal; Davis was never mentioned or implicated). Seems to have the most fan support, and those close to Davis say he would be interested in returning.
Justin Fuente or Tom Herman, Hot Young Coaches Du Jour: Fuente, 39, who makes $1.4 million annually at Memphis, is due a major raise after going 17-3 in his last 20 games. Herman, 40, who has Houston (7-0) rolling in his first season, earns $1.35 million this season. Both will be considered by any major school looking for a coach. As of Saturday, that list includes four major programs (USC, Illinois, South Carolina and Maryland). By the end of the season, Miami could be joined by Virginia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Rutgers or others. Another hot young name: after the Golden era, would UM go for another MAC success story like Toledo’s Matt Campbell (35, and making $495,000)?
Greg Schiano, former college and NFL coach: Hasn’t coached since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccanaeers in 2013. Spent two seasons (1999-2000) under Davis as Miami’s defensive coordinator, during which UM was ranked 12th and fifth in points per game. Spent the next 11 seasons at Rutgers. The 49-year-old has expressed interest in returning to Miami, according to sources close to him. Has a gruff, no-nonsense manner that doesn’t always play well. Has admitted he could improve his personality, which would help him fundraise and such things a coach at a small, private school must do.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky coach: A promising 4-2 in Lexington (entering Saturday) after going 7-17 in his first two seasons. Stoops left a job as Florida State’s defensive coordinator, where he had been since 2009, to coach UK. Would the 48-year-old return to Coral Gables, where he was defensive backs coach under Larry Coker from 2001-03? A person close to Stoops said he still has property in the area and would likely consider the job if offered. One of the better South Florida recruiters on this list. Would UM, which pays Golden $2.54 million per year, pay him at least the $3.25 million he makes at Kentucky?
— By Matt Porter, Palm Beach Post