And so he stays. Al Golden takes the Miami job again. He doesn't go to Penn State for bigger money and smaller expectations. The loudly debated story ends with Golden going nowhere.
But this won't be the same Golden sitting in the same office again.
What Golden went through the past week will stick with him for months, maybe years. It was a total soul examination this past week, no doubt, a career colonoscopy, if you will. Who do I want to be? How will I get there?
And: Do I need to change?
That last one is the big one. It's nice, as he said in his return statement, that he feels, "flattered that our progress at The U during an extremely difficult period of time is recognized."
But that progress won't be enough now. That period under the NCAA cloud is done. That's why the job is different now. Everyone will want to see more from him than they've seen the past few years.
That's all you have to say: You want to see more. And maybe that wasn't possible because his inheritance was limited or the NCAA's issues crushed recruiting. That's all valid.
But were the coordinators on top of their games? Are the systems Golden employed the best moving forward?
This is what he must decide. Because this past week of playing footsie with Penn State took some myths out of the Miami job. Let's start with the one about Miami not being a good job anymore.
That's been kicked around like a tin can recently by national media. If he didn't think it was a good job to compete for a national title, Golden wouldn't be taking less money, worse facilities and far fewer fans in the stadium than at Penn State.
Another myth: Expectations for the Hurricanes are unrealistic in today's era and mainly due to their name, their history and the fading fact that so many alums play on NFL Sundays.
Again, if Golden thought the bar was set unrealistically high, he'd have left for where it was set at winning a Big Ten title. Golden, to his credit, always has embraced Miami's rich football past — "Don't move the bar," he has said.
That's how he talks. You can expect to hear more of it Monday when he explains his decision. Like: "I made a commitment to get it done, and we're going to bust our asses until we get it done," he said after the loss to Louisville.
Like: "We know we're not there. We're going to work at it until we are there," he said after the Florida win.
For three years, Golden has looked like a great coach, sounded like a great coach and carried himself like a great coach right up to kickoff. Again: You want to see more at that point now.
The real question about Golden's flirtation with Penn State was if the timing was best for a change. Did Golden need something Miami couldn't offer, and Miami want one of its coaching alums on the market like Greg Schiano or Rob Chudzinski?
We'll never know if Golden was offered the Penn State job. But this past week was unusual by Miami standards where coaches thinking of leaving went to something bigger.
Jimmy Johnson to Dallas, Dennis Erickson to Seattle, Butch Davis to Cleveland. Those were undeniably better jobs for more money.
Penn State isn't a better job. Golden seemed to decide that in the end. Now he can go about improving a program that needs improving. Something wasn't quite right for Miami last season, even if you recognize it took a progressive step forward with nine wins and a bowl appearance.
The bowl game against Louisville, in which they looked like a kid lost in the mall, showed how far they still have to go. The defense was a sieve all season. Was that just players? Was it coaching, too?
"We are eager to welcome our student athletes back to campus next week," Golden said Sunday.
The school welcomes him back, too. But this is a different job than he's had the past three years. Everyone wants to see more, starting no doubt with Golden.