Miami coach Al Golden is on a mission to keep internal incidents inside the program, but he has quickly learned that it's a lot easier to do at a place like Temple than it is at Miami, where everyone keeps score on everything.
One thing he hasn't been able to keep under wraps: Linebacker Ramon Buchanan has been suspended and is facing a felony charge. Golden called it an "unfortunate misstep." It's a wee bit more than that, according to the incident report (warning, strong language). According to the report, Buchanan told police, "I'm a U.M. football player and I don't give a ----- what you do. I'll get out of it. ---- the police."
From what Golden has had to say about Buchanan, it seems completely out of character, but it was still bold, stupid, and played right into every stereotype about football players thinking they're above the rules. Golden said he's not sure if Buchanan will play in the spring game, and said they will "handle it internally" and "let the process play out."
One look at that incident report and it's tough to make a case to keep Buchanan on the team. In fact, I've got nothing.
The easiest way to explain Golden's philosophy on suspensions and other internal matters is this: Nothing is official until it comes from the head man himself or the sports information department.
There have been some published reports that six players have been suspended for the season opener against Maryland, but Golden wouldn't confirm or deny that when he spoke with reporters before practice on Tuesday. When directly asked by the Miami Herald's Susan Miller Degnan, "Have any players been suspended?" Golden said: "If players are suspended you will be notified from our office and (spokesman) Chris Freet and me as the head coach. Right now we are not discussing any matters that are internal externally."
I am on Miami's email list and haven't received any such official announcement.
Golden said he was more concerned about the leak of information than he was the actual report. He said he "doesn't address rumors" and that it came from an "inaccurate source." He danced around whether or not the actual reports were accurate, though.
"Any issues we have on this team are going to be handled internally," Golden said. "... It's really important for me as the coach and the players to have a real strong relationship, have transparency and to trust each other. Obviously that's hard to do when you have someone leaking information as a source."
"We're very proud of our track record here," Golden said. "We've had the best track record of anybody in the state of Florida with our student-athletes over the past five years, arguably one of the best in the ACC. Coach (Randy) Shannon should be commended for that. The torch has passed to us and we're going to do everything we can to uphold those standards and the mission of the university."
It would be a lot easier to uphold those standards without a player facing a felony charge on the roster. As a coach, you never want to see a player get in trouble, but this might be exactly what Golden needs. It's a chance to send an internal message -- with everyone on the outside watching.