Aside from Greg Schiano, Al Golden has always been the obvious choice for Rutgers. He played at Red Bank Catholic, he built Temple into something out of nothing, he is a great recruiter and runs a clean program. There was a very logical case made for Golden on our very site yesterday. Golden is a solid candidate, but for many reasons, I don't believe he is the right fit for Rutgers.
By all accounts, even from the toughest critics of Golden at Miami, he is a good guy who truly cares for his players and preaches academics. He also finished with a 0-14 record against ranked teams while at Miami. Golden and Miami lost nine games by 18 points or more since 2012. Golden's signature moment this season was his final game, when Miami lost to Clemson 58-0. Granted Clemson is the #1 team in the nation, but Miami is too talented to lose that badly and show zero fight. In comparison, Rutgers lost to Ohio State 49-7 and Michigan State 31-24, teams ranked #5 & #6 in the country, with far less talent than Miami.
Golden brought his good friend Mark D'Onofrio, who was his defensive coordinator at Temple, with him to Miami. D'Onofrio inherited a Miami defense that was ranked 20th in the country in total defense in 2010. The defensive rankings the past five years under his tutelage were 28th in 2011, 116th in 2012, 96th in 2013, 13th in 2014, and 81st this season. Golden and D'Onofrio were criticized heavily during the past five seasons for making little adjustments to their 3-4 defense. A common thought in Miami is that a major downfall of Golden's tenure was not cutting ties with D'Onofrio. Remember when Flood hired his good friend Dave Cohen to run the Rutgers defense? How well did that work out? If Golden is hired by Rutgers, it's automatic D'Onofrio is on a flight to Newark to join his friend.
By the way, Golden and D'Onofrio became friends when they were roommates and teammates on the Penn State football team. That's right, Rutgers would be hiring a Penn State alum who played for Joe Paterno. Is that the background Rutgers wants to bring in for a fresh start and a chance to create our own history in the Big Ten?
Golden is thought of as a strong recruiter and was successful at Miami in this regard. However, it's also a lot different recruiting for Miami than it is at Rutgers. Golden will be competing against Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin and Mark D'Antonio for every top New Jersey player. He didn't recruit New Jersey particularly hard while at Miami and he would make for an easy target to negatively recruit against. And in case you have forgotten, Golden was known to negatively recruit against Rutgers when he was the head coach at Temple.
When the search for the next Rutgers football coach is complete, I am hopeful that athletic director Patrick Hobbs does not select Al Golden. In my opinion, Hobbs choosing Golden doesn't match up. Hobbs is preaching a new beginning and fresh start. Why would he want to bring in a coach coming off failure at a major program? Maybe Golden is the safer pick, but based on his past 5 years at Miami, I think Golden is really just a "rich man's" Flood.
If Golden is the pick to be the next coach at Rutgers, then why did Hobbs hire a search firm? Golden has been available for weeks. If Hobbs believed he was the home run hire, Golden would have been named the head coach already. I think Hobbs wants to hire his own man, not one the media latches onto. We as Rutgers fans need to think more of ourselves. The national media and fanbases of the ACC and Big Ten think it's too perfect that Rutgers hire Al Golden. Believe me, it's not a compliment. Wanting Al Golden to be the next Rutgers head coach is settling. Rutgers settled on Kyle Flood during the last coaching search. It's the same mindset that Rutgers cannot do any better than bring Greg Schiano back. Let the past stay in the past I say, and think out of the box on this hire.
I believe Hobbs is doing his due diligence and working behind the scenes to find the right fit at Rutgers. I have nothing against Al Golden and maybe he follows the footsteps of Bill Belichick, succeeding wildly at his next stop after a failed one. I just don't think Golden is the right fit for Rutgers. If he failed at Miami with better talent in a weaker conference, why is it likely he will succeed with a lesser talent base in a tougher conference?
A candidate like Chris Ash, who has been a defensive coordinator in both the Big Ten and SEC, and led a defense that won a national championship, is the type of rising talent Rutgers should target. The way Hobbs spoke at his press conference, it just seems like he would bring in someone with a positive story and upside, not someone seeking redemption. At this point, Rutgers needs a big name home run hire or a rising star with upside. There is no perfect hire, but Rutgers can do better than Al Golden.