First-year Miami football coach Al Golden was in Tampa on Friday, speaking to boosters at Avila Golf & Country Club. He talks about his new job:
How has your transition been adjusting to the new job, with a full spring under your belt?
It's such a thrill to be working at a place like Miami, with the tradition and the legacy. That part of it provides a lot of fuel, not just for me but for our staff. That's been fun, and my wife and kids are doing good, getting acclimated.
You haven't coached a game, yet you've been at UM longer than athletic director Shawn Eichorst, hired last month from Wisconsin. What do you like about your new boss?
No. 1, he's a communicator. Whether you like his response or not, he's honest. He's earnest. He communicates. He's direct. So that's incredible traits to have as a leader. That part of it is tremendous. Very bright, a lot of energy. You can tell in a very short period of time that he has a plan and a vision.
Tell me about the program you inherited and what the biggest keys are this season to restore some of the swagger and confidence associated with Miami football.
Conditioning. Conditioning. Conditioning. As a team, if we can … get to the next level in terms of our condition and improve our team unity, then we have a chance to play with passion and play with confidence.
Is that to say you were surprised by the level of conditioning when you came in?
I'm not going to comment on anything that happened prior to me. It's immaterial. What I will tell you is I know what I want it to look like. … It's probably the area we've made the most progress in over the last four months, but it's nowhere near where we need it to be.
About your quarterbacks — you have two that played last season, senior Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris. How do those two stand heading into two-a-days this fall?
They're in a dead heat right now. I'm very pleased with both of them in terms of their preparation and their progress, their ability to learn a new system with (unit) coach (Jedd) Fisch (also the offensive coordinator). There's a lot of college coaches going around the country, doing these functions, that don't have an experienced quarterback or a starting quarterback coming back. We have two.
Miami only had two players from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties on its roster last fall. That number should be three this fall, including defensive end Anthony Chickillo from Alonso. Talk about your recruiting efforts in this area.
I think it's great football. I had a chance to get around a little bit with Anthony Chickillo and a couple other guys we were starting to recruit in this area. We were late. I'm really impressed with Tampa metro football, so much so I felt one coach in this area wasn't enough. So I put two coaches in this area, (offensive line coach) Art Kehoe and (former Bucs assistant) Jethro Franklin. I'm not pleased with our representation on the team from this area. It's already getting better, with Dallas Crawford from Fort Myers.
Chickillo is a young man our readers know well. What have you seen from him and what might we see this fall?
It's a lot easier to recruit to your core values than it is to train your core values. There's a lot of kids that deserve a coach that believes in them, a coach to continue to educate and train. But let's face it: If you have to train everybody, you're in trouble. You need guys in that locker room that represent your core values. I can tell you, that young man represents what we're trying to be. Smart, tough, passionate, intense, rugged, gym rat, (good) work ethic.
See sports.tampabay.com for more of Greg Auman's talk with Al Golden.