It isn't easy being University of Miami football coach Al Golden.
A little more than two years ago, he took what seemed like a great job at one of the country's storied programs. But an NCAA investigation that is marred by corruption and continues to drag on has the program stuck in neutral.
"We meet with the media every day and it's never about what we're doing, who we're playing,'' Golden said. "It's always about the NCAA cloud that has been hanging over our head.''
Miami has imposed its own sanctions, including skipping bowl games. Yet, Miami still doesn't know if it will be enough because of an investigation that has no end in sight. Imagine sitting in a recruit's living room and not knowing what to say if a recruit asks about what else the NCAA might do.
"The repercussions we've felt over the past two-and-a-half years from a recruiting standpoint, I don't think is measurable,'' Golden said. "I think everybody here feels like we've paid our debt. We've done a great job in terms of self-imposing.''
The NCAA investigation is based on allegations of wrongdoing before Golden even arrived in Miami. No one would have criticized him had he left for another program. Why in the world has he stayed?
"My wife summed it up best — it ultimately comes down to who you are and what you're about,'' Golden said. "For all the reasons we wanted to come to the University of Miami and that we chose the University of Miami, to leave now for reasons other than that would be wrong.''
He also isn't about to let Nevin Shapiro, the Miami football booster who is currently in jail for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme, have the last word. Shapiro claims to have provided cash, goods and assorted other favors to Miami football players.
"It would make the guy in the cell who wants to bring the program down — it would make him the champion,'' Golden said. "It would make him the victor. So instead of fleeing, we dug in and we said, 'Well, what's really changed?' When the sun comes up and these clouds are gone, what's really changed about the University of Miami?' ... We can battle through this temporary setback and I think we have. I think we've shown an extraordinary amount of integrity.''
Five players we should root for at the Masters this week.
1. Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard kid isn't a kid anymore. He's 33 and still looking for his first major. But he hasn't finished in the top 10 at the Masters since a tie for fourth in 2004.
2. Bubba Watson. You must be a good guy if someone doesn't mind you winning two years in a row. Watson is a good guy. And he would be the first repeat champ since Tiger Woods in 2002.
3. Fred Couples. Remember when old guy Tom Watson almost won the British Open in 2009? How cool would it be to see the 53-year-old Couples, the 1992 Masters champ, win again?
4. Kevin Streelman. The former country club caddie is only in the Masters because he won the Tampa Bay Championship.
5. Anyone not named Tiger. I say this only because if Tiger wins, he might win by 10 strokes, making Sunday's final round uninteresting.
Roger Ebert wasn't a big sports fan, but he helped to have a huge impact on today's sports television. The legendary movie critic died Thursday at age 70. He was the longtime critic at the Chicago Sun-Times and won a Pulitzer Prize. However, he is probably best remembered for his television show with Gene Siskel, the late movie critic of the Chicago Tribune. The two co-hosted a show in which they reviewed and debated movies.
The show was the blueprint for many of today's sports debate shows, particularly ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, co-hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Chicago native Michael Wilbon. In fact, on Thursday, Wilbon tweeted, "All of us at PTI, especially Tony and I, owe debt of gratitude to Misters Siskel and Ebert, both gone now. They inspired what we do.''
The women's Final Four starts today and did you know that Cal is coached by Lindsay Gottlieb, the sister of CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb? "Lindsay Gottlieb is one of the exciting young coaches in women's college basketball,'' ESPN analyst Doris Burke said. "She is a passionate, dynamic and a positive force with her team.'' ... Who is going to win the women's Final Four? Here's ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck: "If (Skylar Diggins) continues to play hard and lead the team, Notre Dame will be cutting down the nets on Tuesday.'' ... P.J. Carlesimo, 63, has done well since taking over as coach of the Brooklyn Nets during the season. The Nets were 24-13 under Carlesimo coming into the weekend. Hard to believe that it was 24 years ago that he took Seton Hall to the national title game, and more than 15 years since he was choked by Latrell Sprewell. Too bad Sprewell didn't play for former Rutgers coach Mike Rice. That might have been fun, eh?
tom jones' two cents