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January 14, 2011

Mailbag: Will Golden get it done at Miami?

It's good to be the proverbial big fish in a small pond.

Sometimes when transferred to a larger body of water, said fish may grow even bigger. In some cases, that fish may turn into a shark.

No doubt, Jim Harbaugh did a whale of a job after leaving San Diego for Stanford. Former Toledo coach Gary Pinkel has been transformed Missouri into a consistent winner, and Jim Tressel won a national championship at Ohio State just two years after leaving FCS program Youngstown State.

In this week's mailbag, the question is raised whether another coach moving into a bigger program will have the -- ahem -- golden touch.

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The right guy?

Did Miami make the right choice in hiring Al Golden? Will he take Miami to the next level?
Drew in Philadelphia

That's hard to say.

Golden certainly did a tremendous job at Temple. He transformed a moribund program that had been kicked out of the Big East and had managed just three total wins over the three seasons before his arrival into a team that won 17 games in the past two seasons.

He's young, energetic, a good recruiter and sound with X's and O's. But will he be a good "fit" at Miami? That remains to be seen.

Based on what he was able to accomplish at Temple, Miami should be optimistic. Temple was one of the worst programs in the country and has limited funding, facilities and resources. Yet, Golden built the Owls into a contender in the MAC, and they challenged higher-profile teams, too.

This season, the Owls beat Big East champion Connecticut 30-16 and scared the heck out of Penn State. The Nittany Lions scored a touchdown with 3 minutes remaining to prevail 22-13.

The obvious thought, then, is if Golden can be successful despite all the limitations at Temple, just imagine what he can do at a higher-profile program such as Miami.

That school of thought has worked before. Urban Meyer had two strong seasons at Bowling Green, which led to Utah hiring him. After 22 wins in two seasons in Salt Lake City, Meyer went to Florida and won national championships in '06 and '08.

Gene Chizik struggled to win five games in two seasons at Iowa State. But given a shot at a higher-profile program with more resources and tradition, he led Auburn to a national championship this season, his second with the Tigers.

Nick Saban was hired at Michigan State after a successful tenure at Toledo. He then eventually went on to LSU and won a national championship in '03, then on to Alabama and won a national title in '09.

There are several other examples of coaches that moved up, capitalized on the resources and won big. Harbaugh, Brian Kelly and Tressel come to mind.

But there is no guarantee that will work out.

Dan Hawkins had tremendous success at Boise State but failed at Colorado and was fired during this season. Steve Kragthorpe had a successful run at Tulsa, but was fired after three seasons without a winning record at Louisville. Rich Rodriguez made West Virginia a national championship contender, but failed at Michigan.

I think Golden will be successful at Miami. The right guy can win national championships there. I believe Golden is the right guy.

Kick this around

Do you feel that David Ruffer from Notre Dame should have made one of the All-American teams? He was perfect in field-goal attempts in the regular season.
Rodney in Bellefonte, Pa.

Ruffer, a Groza Award finalist, was a third-team All-America for Rivals.com. He converted all 18 of his attempts during the regular season, but missed from 36 yards against Miami in the Sun Bowl after he'd tweaked a calf muscle. Of course, that miss came after the All-American teams were announced.

To your point, Ruffer was left off the five teams -- The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of American, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation -- that the NCAA uses to determine consensus All-Americans.

The kickers on those teams were Dan Bailey of Oklahoma State, Alex Henery of Nebraska, Danny Hrapmann of Southern Miss, Josh Jasper of LSU and Will Snyderwine of Duke.

Henery, who was the best kicker I saw last season, was as accurate as Ruffer. He converted 18-of-19 attempts, including field goals form 53 and 52 yards. His one miss was a 51-yard attempt that was blocked.

The others all had more misses than Ruffer, but they also had more attempts and more conversions.

Bailey was 27-of-31. Hrapmann made 26-of-31. Jasper hit 28-of-34, with three coming from at least 50 yards. Snyderwine was 21-of-24.

There's no doubt Ruffer had an All-American caliber season and deserved recognition. But the other guys did, too.

The bigger question concerning Ruffer is whether he'll be kicking for Notre Dame next season. He still has a year of eligibility remaining, but he isn't on scholarship.

In December, Ruffer, an economics major with a 3.9 GPA, said his return would be contingent on whether he's put on scholarship. So that would seem to put the decision up to coach Brian Kelly.

Home games

How many in-home visits are head coaches allowed to make to recruits? How many in-home visits are recruits allowed to have? What constitutes an in-home visit?
Dale in Warrenville, Ill.

An in-home visit is self-explanatory: It's a recruiting visit in which a coach goes to a prospect's home.

Head coaches are allowed only one in-home visit per recruit. To my knowledge, there is no limit on how many different coaches a recruit can have in his home.

Future Ducks

How about a story on Oregon's recruiting? They went from 37th to 14th nationally in a month. If they sign a couple more top-150 players, they could have their best recruiting class ever.
Troy in Sumter, S.C.

As of today, the scouting department of Rivals.com has Oregon's 2011 class rated eighth in the nation. That would be Oregon's top-rated recruiting class ever and its highest-ranked since the 11th-ranked class of 2007.

That class included several players who were starters in the national championship game, including offensive lineman Mark Asper, receiver Jeff Maehl, defensive backs Eddie Pleasant and Talmadge Jackson, tight end David Paulson, defensive end Kenny Rowe and linebacker Casey Matthews.

There are 11 four-star prospects on this year's list of commitments. Four are on the Rivals.com top 100 list -- receiver Devon Blackmon (No. 46), athlete Colt Lyerla (No. 87), offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena (No. 88) and athlete Christian French (No. 96).

Obviously, Oregon is following up its stellar season with an excellent recruiting class. The Ducks figure to be very good for quite a while.

And as far as a story about Oregon recruiting ... well, we're ahead of you. On Nov. 15 Rivals.com posted a story about how Oregon has raised its national recruiting profile and is the trendy West Coast program for prospects.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.
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