Up next in our list of potential offensive coordinator hires comes a guy many wanted as our head coach three years ago. Al Golden was a tight end at Penn State from 1987 to 1991, and started the last two years of his career in Happy Valley.
Golden had himself a nice season in 1990, going for a respectable 203 yards on 14 receptions, with two touchdowns to boot. One of those touchdowns, by the way, was the tying touchdown in the game against No. 1 Notre Dame. Golden spent a season with the New England Patriots after graduating from Penn State, and quickly got into coaching the year after.
His career in major college football started in 1994, where he was a graduate assistant at Virginia under George Welsh. Golden worked with linebackers and special teams. From there, he moved on to Boston College as the linebackers coach in 1997, back to Penn State in 2000 for the same position, and finally back to Virginia as a defensive coordinator in 2001 under Al Groh. Golden's ability enabled him to quickly rise through the ranks of college football, and was the youngest defensive coordinator in Division 1-A (now FBS) by the time he took the job at Virginia. He took the Virginia defense from 108th in the country to 18th.
If you're wondering why a guy who moved up the ranks on the defensive side is on this list, here's why: Al Golden didn't start his career in college. Back in 1993, Golden was the offensive coordinator at Red Bank Catholic, where he played high school ball. Lou Montanaro, the coach at Red Bank Catholic at the time, recalls that Golden "basically rewrote the playbook for me over that year. I still have that playbook now." Lou also recalls Golden sending him play ideas from his days at Penn State.
Another habit of Golden's as the Red Bank Catholic offensive coordinator was to take players aside after practice and work on installing plays specifically for that week's opponent. If that practice sounds familiar to you, it's because Bill O'Brien did something similar while at Penn State as well. O'Brien's offense was built around taking advantage of the opponent each week, with wrinkles thrown in to keep opposing defenses on their heels.
If stories from long ago don't convince you, how about some statistics? After becoming the second youngest head coach in FBS when he took the Temple job 2005, Golden took the Owls to one of the biggest turnarounds in FBS history. In the process, Golden took Temple from dead last on total offense in 2006, to 113th in 2007, 107th in 2008, 84th in 2009, and finally, 95th in 2010. A lot of people use Golden's tenure at Miami as a knock against his ability as a coach, but offense was never the issue at Miami. Under Golden, Miami saw a similarly upward trajectory on total offense, going from 81st in 2011, to 52nd in 2012, 46th in 2013, and 42nd in 2014.*
Overall, Golden brings experience on both sides of the ball, proven coaching ability through all the ranks in high school and college, and the added experience of having been a head coach. Not to mention, having been a tight end himself, he'd naturally fill the Tight Ends Coach position as well, so no shuffling of the current staff would be necessary. If James Franklin is looking for someone with the ability to take over the offense and run with it with little input from him, Golden has proven, time after time, that he's the man for the job.
Besides, how can you not hire a guy with this work ethic?
*2015 omitted due to Golden's midseason firing.