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Al Golden discusses contract extension; Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon deflect talk of future

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- Here is a transcript of Al Golden's post-game press conference with reporters after the Canes lost 24-17 and he signed an extension through the 2019 season.

> Did you discuss the extension with the team? "I didn’t because the team knows that I’ve never discussed anything but being here with them. They know that. The team understands that. I’ve said it to them a million times that I love it here. I said ‘please don’t listen to what anybody is saying on the outside.’ This is where I want to be; this is a destination job. I know they’re excited. I think it’s a mutual admiration and respect and I think they know what we have to get done this offseason."

> How important it is to get the contract extension sealed now? "It’s vital. I just want to thank President Shalala for her leadership and Shawn Eichorst for his leadership. And clearly, I’m just excited about the future. I’m ready to go on the road. I’ll be at the first kid’s house at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Again, we have a lot of work to do. We know where we are as a team. I wish we had won. I’m sure we all do, but we again are where we are right now, and we’re going to fight out of it. And I’m just glad I have the opportunity to be the guy to lead this program out of it."

> When did you tell the team about the extension? "There was nothing for me to really to say to them. It was about people speaking on the outside. I think our players always understood what we were going to do."

> How did extension evolve... "I don't think I want to discuss that. That's private. But clearly when everybody is on the same page and the direction you want to go with the program that's how it gets done."

> Does this end the speculation of you leaving? "It’s been a tough year, and I said all along I plan on being here. You guys asked the question the night I came and I still feel the same way. I think it’s a destination job and I think we’re going to have a great recruiting class. We started four seniors on offense and three on defense. A transition year; a lot of adversity. Again, we’re not making any excuses. We know what we need to fix and we’re going to start fixing it Monday morning, period."

> Penn State still needs a head coach... "Right now Penn State has a great coach. His name is Tom Bradley. He's passionate. He's a leader. He's been there forever. The kids are playing for him. And I'm happy for Tom. I'm excited to be a Miami Hurricane."

> What was your plan if not for this extension? "I was going to work. This has been setup for a week now. I'm going to be in at least one kids house on Sunday. I was going on the road. Once we found out the bowl wasn't an option. We set the schedule and I'm going to be working through the holiday."

> Why is it important for you to be here through 2019? "I wanted to make a long term commitment otherwise the speculation is going to continue. I don't want to be sitting here answering these questions. Hopefully, now, I'll outlast a lot of you guys."

> What is your impression of the season? "I think it's emblematic of our inconsistency to go to some games and have incredible discipline and protect the ball. There's too many variances or oscillations right now in our overall game for me to be pleased with it. I think we need to be physically tougher. We need to be mentally tougher. I think our competitiveness has come a long way. Obviously our penalties are down, our turnover ratio has improved. But not to the point where you can win, week in and week out. We knew what was coming in here. We're not consistent enough. We need a good offseason program, get resituated and get a class in here as well.

> Was senior Day too much to bear? "I don't want to make any excuses. They played better at the end of the day. They didn't turn the ball over. They won field position battle..."

> Who decided to make the announcement? "Leadership decided to make announcement during the game."

> What did you tell Jacory and the seniors? "I just told them they were Miami Hurricanes and we love them, appreciate the way they stuck together through adversity and how competitive they were all year. I wish it had ended better for our seniors.

> Have recruits asked if you are staying? "For players and recruits we've only said the same thing for weeks. Whether or not anybody wanted to listen to what we were saying. Our message never changed and now it officially is never going to change. If we talk to recruits today or tomorrow, it's going to be what were telling them.

> What is the focus now? "To get stronger. We need to get stronger than we are right now. We have to create depth in a lot of different spots. We have to go out and recruit and match kids to not only what we're doing, but want to compete and start. There were a lot of seniors that walked out there today. Fortunately, we're losing a great deal of seniors, but not a great deal of starters.

MILLER SHINES

It's still unclear if Lamar Miller will be in the NFL or the Hurricanes backfield next season. But if Friday's performance was his last in a Hurricanes uniform, the redshirt sophomore tailback left quite an impression, finishing with 114 yards on 12 carries while moving into third place all-time in UM's single-season rushing list with 1,272 yards on 227 carries and nine touchdowns.

His 79-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest play of the season for the Hurricanes and a career-best for himself. Miller began the day fifth in UM history, but passed Clinton Portis (1,200 yards, 2001) and Ottis Anderson (1,266 yards, 1978) on the list.

He would have had 63 more yards Saturday if not for a holding penalty on Harland Gunn early in the fourth quarter. Still, he'll be listed third in UM's record book behind Willis McGahee (1,753 yards on 282 attempts in 2002) and Edgerrin James (1,416 yards on 224 attempts in 1998).

ESPN's Todd McShay lists Miller as the 14th-best prospect in next April's NFL Draft and the second-best draft eligible running back behind Alabama's Trent Richardson. Miller said earlier this week he would only declare for the draft if he knew he was going to be a first round pick.

That apparently hasn't changed even with Friday's news that coach Al Golden's contract has been extended through the 2019 season. Miller said he still plans to sit down with his parents and Golden and make the best decision once he hears back from the NFL.

"Now that the season is over I just have to get stronger, faster, finish with my school work," Miller said.

As for why he would come back, Miller said: "I always wanted to win a national championship and ACC championship. That was my main goal, just to get a ring. I'd still like to do that."

VERNON NON-COMMITTAL ABOUT RETURN TO UM

Junior Olivier Vernon, rated the 26th best draft eligible defensive end by NFLDraftScout.com, was non-committal when asked about his return next season.

"I'm not really trying to think about that," Vernon said when asked if he'll consider going to the NFL or returning to UM. "I'm just trying to move forward at the end of the day. I'm just going to have to talk to my parents and see what happens."

Vernon missed six games because he was suspended by the NCAA for taking impermissible gifts from former booster Nevin Shapiro.

SENIORS HONORED

The Hurricanes honored 25 seniors Friday at Sun Life Stadium. They came out of the smoke and met family members, with Golden hugging each player and greeting their families.

> The Class of 2011: wide receiver Travis Benjamin, receiver Ben Bruneau, receiver LaRon Byrd, fullback John Calhoun, cornerback Lee Chambers, tackle Joel Figueroa, tight end Chase Ford, linebacker Jordan Futch, cornerback Nate Gholston, linebacker Sean Goldstein, guard Harland Gunn, quarterback Jacory Harris, center Tyler Horn, long snapper Chris Ivory, linebacker Miles Levine, linebacker Erik Lichter, defensive back JoJo Nicolas, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, linebacker/defensive end Marcus Robinson, defensive end Andrew Smith, linebacker Sean Spence, running back David Thompson, quarterback Spencer Whipple, cornerback Mike Williams.

> Tight end Blake Ayles, who retired from football prior to the 2011 season due to a career-ending injury, was also recognized.

> Calhoun made his first career start Saturday and caught his first pass of the season, a four-yard grab.

> Byrd scored UM's first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Harris. It was his first touchdown since Oct. 23, 2010 against North Carolina.

Asked about the 29-22 record the seniors compiled at UM and why they didn't win an ACC championship or a bowl game in their time, Horn said: "At some point you have to get the job done. I know it's hard to just say go do it. But at some point, you have to go do it. You have to make the play, make the catch, make the stop, make the block. While we did not do that all the time I felt we laid a good foundation of what the leadership of the team needs to be. Hopefully, guys like Ray-Ray [Armstrong], VT [Vaughn Telemaque], [Brandon] Linder coming back, B-Wash [Brandon Washington], it's going to be their team now. They just need to keep on building the house so to speak. Eventually it's all going to come together."

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