CORAL GABLES, Fla. — When Al Golden enters the Miami Hurricanes' home field for his team's pregame warmup, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run blares through the stadium.
It's his song, a nod to his New Jersey upbringing. It's apparently not his mantra.
Golden's second season at Miami ends on Saturday, when his team visits Duke. If the Hurricanes win, they'll finish tied for first in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division, which would mark the first time since 2003 that Miami could call itself co-champions of anything.
We're there because of coach Golden, Miami's Brandon McGee said. He's put everything in place for us to do this.
When the game ends, Miami will head home and do what it has done for two seasons: Wait for the NCAA to reveal how much trouble the school is facing. The long investigation into the university's athletic compliance practices seems to be winding down, almost two years after the NCAA started digging and now 16 months after the probe became publicly known after a rogue former booster's claims were published by Yahoo Sports.
No one knows what's coming. Or when.
Do I worry about it? I worry about everything, Golden said. I worry about all the kids that sit in a room and the staff, our strength staff, our training staff, everybody. When we go on that field, there are usually 240 people on that field. So there are a lot of people involved, a lot of lives involved. But I can see what we're becoming and what we want to do with the program.
That vision pulls me a little bit stronger than some of these things that try and tear us apart. I think we're here for the right reasons, which is why you have a tendency to dig in and fight as opposed to flight.
In short, Golden's not planning to run anywhere.
Dark days are almost certainly coming to Miami, with the NCAA expected to send a notice of allegations to the school soon — possibly in the next couple weeks. If that timetable holds up, sanctions could come around March. But Golden believes the worst has already happened, with Miami self-imposing two bowl bans and with him planning to hold back some scholarships that could go toward signing more players this winter.
That all being said, many around Miami's program believe the next couple seasons could be great ones. That's also why they think Golden is staying put.
Al is very committed, Miami acting athletic director Blake James said. He recognizes, I think, what we all recognize, in that we have a very, very bright future as a program. When you look at the team that we have out on the field, when you look at the young guys we have out contributing to this program right now, who we are as a program right now with a lot of our impact players freshmen and sophomores ... that credit goes to Al.
Players rave about Golden.
His motto — Deserve Victory — is on the wall of the team's meeting room and the last thing they see in the tunnel before they walk onto their home field.
We believe in this staff. We believe in this program, quarterback Stephen Morris said. We believe in coach Golden.
Golden's tenure with the Hurricanes has been completely blanketed by uncertainty — the suspensions related to the investigation that were deemed necessary before his Miami debut last season, ongoing fallout ever since and the fact that he worked for four different athletic directors at Miami before even coaching 18 games at the school.
By next season, the sanctions should have arrived. The page, he hopes, can be turned. Golden and his wife have had plenty of talks about the future, and they always seem to come back to the same conclusion: He's supposed to be at Miami, supposed to see this saga through to, they hope, a championship end.
I think it's a great place and we're destined for great things here, Golden said. We're just going through tough times.