FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The national championship will be won on the Miami Hurricanes’ home field this season.
Al Golden won’t be watching.
Instead, the Hurricanes’ coach will be busy trying to get his own team closer to that level. When either No. 1 Notre Dame or No. 2 Alabama hoists that crystal football on Monday night, someone might have to tell Golden who wins. For Golden and the Hurricanes, the 2012 season is a thing of the past, with preparations already well underway for the 2013 campaign — things like finishing up playbook-related items and making sure recruiting ends with a flourish.
“We’re moving forward,” Golden said. “We like the University of Miami and we’re very excited about the team that we have. We lose one starter on offense and one starter on defense, and when everybody reports back for spring, we’re going to add about 20 guys to that with redshirts and people enrolling at midyear. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Miami self-imposed a second consecutive postseason ban after finishing 7-5 in 2012, costing the Hurricanes a trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and a bowl appearance — possibly the Orange Bowl, which would have been their final destination if they won the ACC title. The Hurricanes sat out because of an ongoing NCAA investigation into compliance practices, a probe that started in 2011 and is now believed to be winding down.
The next step in that plan is for the NCAA to deliver the notice of allegations, a move that has been expected for months and still has not occurred.
“We just want to receive the notice,” Golden said. “The day we do that is the day we take a big step forward. I don’t think there’s any question that will be a release. And the good thing there is we don’t anticipate any shock or any surprise.”
Once Miami receives the notice of allegations, the school can either agree with the NCAA findings — that almost certainly won’t happen — or file a response within 90 days and schedule a hearing before the Committee on Infractions.
“In this joint inquiry we’ve been open and honest and we feel like we’re on top of it as a university and certainly as an administration,” Golden said.
Golden and his staff are at some high school All-Star games around the country this weekend, looking for more commitments, and the Hurricanes have already signed Beau Sandland — the nation’s top-ranked junior college tight end.
“He’s somebody that we coveted and we think he can be an excellent addition to our offense,” Golden said.
Golden will enter his third season at Miami in 2013, and the schedules for his first two years were essentially set long before his arrival.
The one for this season is more to his liking.
Miami is planning to open with three home games in the season’s first four weeks — Florida Atlantic, Florida and Savannah State — and then go to Tampa, Fla. to face South Florida and new coach Willie Taggart on Sept. 28.
After that, the Hurricanes are expecting to play only Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, although nothing has been formally and finally released.
“The schedule’s better,” Golden said. “To have seven home games instead of six is huge.”
For now, the priority is finding the players who will be on the field for those games. Miami expects to bring in about 16 players when the national letters of intent are signed next month, and it’s believed about 10 of those spots have been grabbed by players verbally committing.
Making the right decisions down the stretch, especially with players from the Miami area who are considering the Hurricanes, is vital, Golden said.
“I think we’re going to continue to finish strong,” Golden said. “We’re going to show these young men in South Florida that we’re patient and we think they’re worth waiting for.”