He might not have been the biggest name in the coaching search, but Al Golden might just be the best one for Miami. The former Temple coach, who was named Hurricanes coach on Sunday night, will face some obstacles but he is the right coach at the right time for Miami for many reasons.
He is a tireless recruiter, and he'll now have fertile recruiting ground in his backyard. Golden must focus on landing and cultivating top prospects from South Florida and around the rest of the state where "The U" still carries the most weight. He has spent much of his coaching career in the Northeast, but he can't fall in the trap of trying to recruit Pennsylvania, the Midwest and the Northeast as much. He needs to focus on South Florida, the state of Florida and the South as a whole more than anywhere else now. Yes, he can spot recruit other areas, but there is too much talent all around him now.
Another trap to watch for is to avoid reaching too much with the under-the-radar and overachiever prospects who helped him at Temple. At times, coaches will strick with a formula that worked at their previous job but might not necessarily be the best philosophy for their new job. But watching Golden's teams and seeing how much he loves speed and athleticism, here's guessing he'll be like a kid on Christmas morning with so many athletes scattered around in South Florida and throughout the state.
He had one player from Florida on the Temple roster this year, but a good recruiter is a good recruiter and it should not be too hard for him to create relationships. But there will be obstacles. He'll have to deal with the lack of ideal facilities and that the Hurricanes play at SunLife Stadium, the Miami Dolphins' stadium, as opposed to an on-campus stadium. But he dealt with similar issues at Temple, so it shouldn't catch him off guard.
Miami had a top 25 class working when Randy Shannon was fired, but that class has since crumbled and Golden has a lot of work to do now. The thing is he can't be judged on this year's class. While many recruits might not know who he is right now, he is energetic, enthusiastic and good at building relationships. He is polished and effective on the home visit. He will create stability with the few committed prospects remaining and will work on salvaging a good class. In fact, it would be more surprising if he didn't finish with a respectable class. Another good thing is the Hurricanes are only expected to sign about 15 players, so while he's starting from close to scratch he doesn't have as much ground to make up.
He is inheriting a talented roster, which will not only help on the field but will help as he recruits for the Class of 2012. Still, he's going to be battling Florida State and Florida on a daily basis for the best players in the state. FSU is red-hot on the recruiting trail right now, and Florida has a five-year run of top-five classes so the landscape is tough in the Sunshine State.
The bottom line is while Golden, a defensive-minded guy, might not be the flashy pick, he has a strong coaching foundation and a keen understanding of what it takes to win and run a strong program, both on and off the field. He is an excellent recruiter, and this was a safe pick who can build Miami the right way.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting. ESPN recruiting coordinators Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker contributed to this report.