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Miami fires coach Golden; UCF coach O'Leary retires (w/video)

Miami fires coach Al Golden, left, a day after a 58-0 loss to Clemson; UCF coach George O’Leary resigns after a 59-10 defeat to Houston.
Miami fires coach Al Golden, left, a day after a 58-0 loss to Clemson; UCF coach George O’Leary resigns after a 59-10 defeat to Houston.
Published Oct. 26, 2015

A day after Miami and UCF suffered historic defeats at home, the state's most embattled coach and its longest tenured one were out of their jobs.

Miami fired coach Al Golden on Sunday, hours after UCF's George O'Leary announced his retirement.

The moves happened in the wake of Saturday's embarrassments and the struggles that preceded them.

Golden's tenure started well enough. He navigated the Hurricanes through an NCAA investigation that resulted in nine lost scholarships and a self-imposed two-year bowl ban.

Discontent began brewing among fans last year when UM had more draft picks (seven) than wins (six). Planes flew over Sun Life Stadium with banners demanding his dismissal.

If the "Fire Golden" chant that rose from the stands Saturday wasn't enough to convince athletic director Blake James to make a change, the result was. UM's 58-0 loss to then-No. 6 Clemson was the most lopsided in school history and ended Golden's time in Coral Gables midway through his fifth season.

"I didn't feel we were where we needed to be at this point in the process," James said. "This is the decision that needed to be made."

Golden, 46, leaves with a 32-25 record and without an ACC championship or a win over rival Florida State.

Tight ends coach Larry Scott takes over the 4-3 'Canes as interim head coach. Scott, a Sebring native, was part of USF's first recruiting class as an offensive tackle and spent eight seasons on the Bulls' coaching staff.

James declined to say when he hopes to make a hire or whether an outside firm will assist his search. Potential candidates include former Bucs coach and UM assistant Greg Schiano, Alabama assistant and former Florida International coach Mario Cristobal, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and former 'Canes coach Butch Davis.

Two hundred miles north, UCF is searching, too, after its own home debacle led O'Leary to announce his retirement.

Since taking over in 2004, O'Leary took the Knights to unprecedented success during his 81-68 run. Two years ago, UCF capped a 12-1 season with a 52-42 win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

O'Leary, 69, said in a statement Sunday that he planned to retire after that win but agreed to coach two more seasons. The Knights won their second straight American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 — which made this season's woeful 0-8 start even more stunning.

Two weeks ago, O'Leary resigned as interim athletic director to focus on football. After Saturday's 59-10 loss to then-No. 21 Houston — the worst home defeat in program history — his time as coach was over, too.

"In an effort to allow UCF to accelerate its search for my successor and clarify the facts regarding my future plans," he said in a statement, "I am retiring effective immediately."

UCF quarterbacks coach Danny Barrett will serve as interim coach for the final four games, including a Thanksgiving showdown against USF.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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