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Miami coach Golden shrugs off recent losses as Pitt visits

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 26, 2014 9:00 p.m.

Miami coach Al Golden was polite and considerate and his response was firm and reasoned — even though he didn’t like the question.

“You can certainly argue that there was (a hangover),” he said, referring to Miami’s 30-13 loss to Virginia after the near-upset the previous week of undefeated Florida State.

“But that topic and those things are never brought up in our building. Our building is not about making excuses.”

A week after losing to Florida State, a team that is headed toward the four-team College Football Playoff, Miami lost at Virginia. The Cavaliers are not even assured of lower-level bowl berth.

Based on the nature of the loss to Virginia — the Cavaliers dominated the Hurricanes in the second half — the question this week becomes:

How will Miami approach the Pitt game Saturday in Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens?

“I think we laid it on the line against Florida State, and we came back and laid it on the line against Virginia,” Golden said, “just like we have to lay it on the line against Pitt.”

Miami fans want Golden, whose major area of study at Penn State (Class of 1991) was pre-law, to do more than talk a good game.

He is 28-20 in four seasons at Miami, but he earned a contract extension through 2019 last year not long after ESPN reported he interviewed for the Penn State job.

Accustomed to the Hurricanes bringing national championships to South Florida, longtime Miami fans also want better than the 18-19 record Golden has compiled against Power 5 conference teams. Recruiting remains strong in a fertile area — ninth and 20th in 2012 and 2013, according to Rivals.com — but Miami has been outscored 167-59 in the second half of its past nine losses.

Yet, the players remain steadfastly behind Golden.

Senior tight end Clive Walford told teammates to forget about honoring the seniors Saturday night and win the Pitt game for Golden.

“Man, that’s a great coach,” Walford told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He wants it as bad as we do.” Added All-ACC linebacker Denzel Perryman: “It’s time for us to take the blame and get a load off Coach Golden.”

Golden and his players have shared a large dose of adversity this season.

Miami started 3-3, losing to Louisville, Nebraska and Georgia Tech on the road.

The Hurricanes recovered to win three in a row, but losses to Florida State and Virginia followed. Miami (6-5, 3-4) is bowl eligible — barely, thanks to a 4-1 record at home.

Pitt has one last shot at bowl eligibility, which creates the second scenario in two weeks where Miami is facing a desperate team. Golden couldn’t care less.

“It’s really not about the other team,” he said. “Regardless of what Virginia’s motivation was, we didn’t play well enough.

“We’re really not concerned with what (Pitt’s) motivation is. I’m sure they are going to be plenty motivated.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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