Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden

Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden (Robert Duyos, Sun Sentinel / August 30, 2013)

For the Miami football program, the Al Golden watch continues.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported early in the day that the Hurricanes coach would be meeting with Penn State on Saturday about its vacant coaching position after former Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien became the new coach of the Houston Texans. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the same Friday night.

As of Saturday evening, there was still no official word on whether Golden had been offered the Penn State job, but Miami athletic director Blake James told the Sun Sentinel he's spoken with his coach.

“Al and I are in regular communication. He is our football coach and I believe he will be our coach going forward,” James wrote in a text message to the Sentinel.


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Golden's Pennsylvania-based agent, Brett Senior, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The uncertainty regarding Golden’s status at Miami had an impact on at least one member of the Hurricanes’ highly-touted recruiting class, defensive tackle Travonte Valentine of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic decommitted from Miami after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio.

“Since Miami ain’t looking so good now, until further notice, I’m decommitting from Miami University because I’m not sure about Al Golden so far,” Valentine told Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com. “I’m just going to weigh my options for right now. Until Al Golden says he’s staying, I’m decommitting from Miami.”

Another Miami commit, Nigel Bethel of Miami’s Booker T. Washington High took to Twitter to ask, “Any news on Al Golden?”

Golden remains one of several names that are reportedly in contention for the Penn State job along with Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Mike Munchak, who was fired by the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. Franklin is reportedly set to interview with Penn State on Sunday.

If Golden does accept a job offer from Penn State, he’ll find himself facing challenges similar to some he faced at Miami.

The Nittany Lions are currently dealing with NCAA sanctions including scholarship reductions and are two years into a four-year postseason ban stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Golden, who is 22-15 in his three years at Miami, recently helped the Hurricanes navigate NCAA uncertainty of their own after the program underwent a two-year investigation that resulted in Miami self-imposing a two-year postseason ban after a Yahoo! Sports report detailed years of improper benefits doled out by former booster Nevin Shapiro.

Despite Miami's NCAA woes, Golden helped the Hurricanes land several highly-regarded recruiting classes and Miami's win totals improved every year of his tenure. This season, the Hurricanes completed their first nine-win season since 2009 and made their first bowl appearance since 2010 with a 36-9 loss to Louisville in last week's Russell Athletic Bowl.

Ahead of the game, Golden was asked about the experience of having his name linked to jobs around the country. He stressed then he was happy at Miami.

“We’re at one of the greatest places there is in college football and we’ve gone through a hard time, but it’s hard to imagine places out there that you can sell, that you can present better than the University of Miami,” Golden said.

Still, Golden’s ties to Happy Valley run deep.

The 44-year-old New Jersey native was a tight end and a captain for the Nittany Lions. He later returned to Penn State as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno and he could stand to get a significant raise if he is offered, and accepts, the job.

According to USA Today, Golden makes $2.15 million at Miami, while O’Brien made $3.28 million at Penn State.