Thirty years ago, Notre Dame came into the Orange Bowl to face Miami for the final game of the regular season. Gerry Faust, the embattled Fighting Irish Coach in his fifth season, was under fire for not returning Notre Dame to the national stature they once enjoyed.
On Saturday, the embattled Al Golden brought his 4-2 Miami Hurricanes onto the field at Sun Life Stadium hoping to pull an upset against No. 6 Clemson. He is under the same level of criticism that Faust faced in 1985.
Knowing he would be fired, Faust announced his resignation days before the game in Miami. If the Irish were supposed to win one for the coach, they did not get the memo. Instead, the Hurricanes embarrassed Faust and Notre Dame, 58-7.
Whatever hope Golden had for keeping his job, the Faustian type of humiliation suffered at the hands of the Tigers cemented his future. The 58-0 embarrassment, the worst loss in Hurricane history, brought a few things front and center.
First, his team has obviously tuned him out. Florida State fans could hardly believe their eyes at the unfolding spectacle on Saturday. Was this the same group of Hurricanes that gave the Seminoles all they could handle two weeks before in Tallahassee?
Those merely looking at statistics will note that quarterback Brad Kaaya, who threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against FSU, only threw 10 passes before leaving the game with an injury. The Hurricanes were already down 28-0 when he left early in the second quarter.
Second, the alumni and Hurricane Nation are monstrously frustrated. Some took to twitter calling for Golden’s firing before the game. Former ‘Canes and NFL stars Warren Sapp, Bryant McKinnie, and Leon Searcy went public with their frustration on Twitter.
While some may consider that a bit unseemly, it elevates the intra-squad unrest into a national discussion. The Al Golden vigil has officially begun.
Third, Clemson is an outstanding football team. For all of the talk about the top 10 teams not playing up to their ranking, the Tigers are not part of that conversation. They should move up when the AP Top 10 comes out on Sunday.
Deshaun Watson is a dual threat at quarterback that can make many defenses look bad, not just Miami. Florida State will have their hands full in two weeks when the Seminoles head into Death Valley to face Clemson.
Golden came to Miami under the most difficult of circumstances. He was the right man for the job of taking the program forward from scandal.
Unfortunately, he is not the right guy to take them to the level fans, alumni and former players expect. It won’t be a long wait.
Gerry Faust can relate.