Al Golden: At this point in the year you're either wearing headphones or earplugs
Miami has hit a recent rough patch in the schedule, losing their past four of five. Beyond just the wins and losses, Al Golden is frustrated with having to discipline players this late in the season, when they should be focused on winning games and getting better on each side of the ball.
"Every team battles it. I just don’t want to be battling it in November. I mean, you’ve either got a headset on or earplugs or you just don’t listen to what anybody else is saying in the building, because for two weeks now that’s all we’ve been talking about.”
The past two weeks answering questions about suspensions and behavior issues have felt more like a television show than a football program at times Golden noted. “It’s been TMZ since I’ve been here. Let’s be honest, right? It’s been tough on the coaches. It’s been tough on me.”
One of the the most frustrating parts for Golden and his staff has been taking time away from instructing the entire team to hash out the mistakes of a few players. With that said, it's important to set the standard of expectations for the future players of the program.
"I say to the team all the time, you’re sitting in a room with 110 guys and 107 of them are doing everything right and it’s two or three guys that [mess] up. Now you’re in there yelling at the whole team. We have to make sure we don’t drain everybody else’s energy because a couple of guys aren’t doing what they need to do."
"You have to break the cycle. You can’t hand that down as acceptable to the next generation of Miami Hurricanes." Golden explained in the Miami Herald.
Noting that players always respond better to their peers, Golden and his staff put together a "unity council" that is comprised of a few players from each class who handle themselves the right way on and off the field.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio explained the unity council philosophy.
“Always, players respond better to their peers. Sometimes you hear the same thing over and over again from a coach, but when one of your guys — the guy that you live with, you’re in the dining hall with, you hang out with — tells you the truth and keeps it real, they respond better. Guys have to be proactive in that area, and that’s something we have to improve on."
“Our job here is to develop them as human beings. If we were worried about ourselves, we wouldn’t suspend them. You’re suspending them in hopes that it will help them. You try to save everybody, but eventually they don’t save themselves. The last thing is to give up on somebody. We’re not pro football coaches. We’re college coaches.” D'Onofrio added.
This season has been a trying time for the Hurricanes on and off the field, but the staff understands the big picture. When you're dealing with college aged kids on a day to day basis, some of them will make knuckle-headed decisions. As coaches it is our responsibility to help them learn from it, and make sure that the everyone involved with the team understands the expectations of being a player within your program.
Also, good move by the staff in creating a "unity council". Developing an effective way to communicate with your the leaders among your team is a great way to allow players input into the major decisions involving the program, and it also allows coaches a great pulse on everything involved with the team.