Now that the never-ending NCAA investigation is over at Miami, an obvious question looms.
How long can Miami keep Al Golden? While Golden has been loyal, coaching the last three seasons under a cloud of NCAA suspicion, he is going to be a prime target at …
•USC, where he fits the profile of young, accomplished head coach.
•Texas, because of the same reason.
•Penn State, where Golden would have interest if, as continually speculated, Bill O'Brien goes to the NFL.
“There' s a lot he wants to do here,” Miami AD Blake James told CBSSports.com by phone on Tuesday. “We haven't gotten there yet. Part of it is the sanctions that were out there. Without speaking for Al, it's got to be a real relief going forward without that uncertainty.
“To Al, in particular, you want to be in a place where you can win, want to be a place that can support your efforts, you want to be at a place where you're happy.”
Golden (19-11 at Miami) seems like he's happy, with a contract extended through 2019. His team is one of nine undefeated in the country. But absolutely no one in South Florida could blame him if he left for USC or Texas, perhaps the two most glamorous jobs in the country.
Both schools are expected -- at least privately -- to take a swing at Nick Saban. That doesn't mean the opening couldn't eventually fall to a young, promising coach like Golden.
While James didn't speak directly on the subject, he did give a glimpse of the emotion behind Tuesday's announcement. Before Tuesday, the last time he addressed the Canes was when he told them last year they weren't going to a bowl. (The school self-imposed a second consecutive bowl ban.)
“There's a real sense of relief,” James said. “I think it was a look of astonishment when I came in. I will say when the door was closing and I was walking out, yeah, there was energy and excitement in the room.”
James did echo Golden's sentiment that that wait for a resolution itself was a penalty: “We've been dealing with it for so long that the sanction that never really gets identified in the document is the sanction of uncertainty.”
This is James' third different stop at Miami, in three different positions. He was named AD in February. He had nothing to do with the Shapiro case, but was asked how to keep it from happening again.
“Across the country, it's vigilance,” he said. “It's getting people to understand the rules of the association. It's getting people to speak up … I never want to go through this situation.”