It would seem there are actually very few of us that either travel a smooth road or finish on top.
No, life is generally about highs, lows, twists, turns and hurdles. It’s about picking yourself up when you’re down, tweaking/changing “the plan” and not taking your frustrations out on others (which is becoming all too commonplace!)
I recently read an article about Al Golden. The former Penn State University tight end became the second youngest head coach in Division I football back in 2005 when he took over a dreadful (3-31 over previous three years) Temple Owls program. Temple, previously in the Big East, was a Mid-American Conference member at the time and . . .
Temple then became a MAC East contender, finishing 9-3 in 2009 and reaching a bowl game (EagleBank Bowl) for the first time since 1979. Such turnarounds draw attention, especially when you are a young coach. Golden had already passed on a couple potential opportunities by the time his squad finished the 2010 season at 8-4. When the University of Miami (Fla) job was offered in December, he decided to take the plunge and signed on with the Hurricanes.
At the time, Golden called it a dream job, and UM had certainly enjoyed its own “golden” area – a time that included five national championships. But results on the field for the once-mighty Hurricanes had declined.
Golden would soon find himself at the helm of a ship beset by controversy. Allegations of shady money for donations, player privileges, criminal issues and NCAA violations, as well as a documentary film (The U) put the program in some very unflattering light.
Golden had inadvertently sailed into a tempest, and even as he labored to build the on-field product, he was forced to deal with the fallout.
During an investigation of the allegations, the school self-imposed a ban on bowl participation. The NCAA also declared Miami would lose three football scholarships for three seasons.
Golden’s teams went 6-6 and 7-5 in the first two seasons. After starting 7-0 in 2013, the Hurricanes finished 9-3. They fell hard to Louisville in a return to bowl play, losing 36-9.
With a talented cast returning, many thought the Hurricanes had turned the corner. But some of Golden’s most trying times were just ahead. Cincinnati defeated Miami in Game Four, and before long planes carrying banners calling for his dismissal were circling the venues, much like vultures circling a prey.
The final stroke for Golden was a humiliating Week Eight loss to Clemson. The Tigers went up 45-0 before pulling their starters and eventually cruised to a 58-0 victory. That was the worst UM loss in its 90-year history.
Golden was done at Miami one day later!
According to the Detroit Free Press, Golden has landed on his feet, thanks in part to Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, who coached Golden at Penn State.
The Lions have hired Golden as a tight ends coach, and he is embracing the move. He told the paper, “I need this right now. … I was a head coach for 10 years. I just felt like … I was burnt out, and I need this. It’s been great. I’m coaching offense. I’ve been rejuvenated.”
As much as we’d like to see what’s ahead in life, especially in job moves, it’s never as clear as hindsight. I can certainly attest to that from my own experiences.
Being a head coach is, indeed, risky business. Sometimes you’re climbing the latter. Sometimes the latter is falling out from under you. Sure, there are some ego-maniacs and/or jerks out there. But the majority are people who love the game. They enjoy X’s, O’s and the people who make them go.
I don’t know if Al Golden will be a head coach again, but I am happy he seems to be out of the hornet’s nest.
For most of us, the “top” is a place we might visit (or dream to visit), but it’s nearly impossible to stay there. There is soooo much to be said for finding our niche(s) and enjoying the journey.