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Al Golden on Penn State speculation: "I can't worry about what other people are saying."

CORAL GABLES -- In the 11 months Al Golden has been the coach at the University of Miami, it feels like a day hasn't gone by where we haven't talked about the possibility of him ending up at Penn State.

Al Golden-JoePaThe fanning of those flames only grew larger Wednesday morning when Golden's former college coach, 84-year old Joe Paterno announced he will be stepping down at the end of the season.

Penn State has been under a firestorm since charges of sexual abuse against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky became public last week. Golden, who has been linked as a possible successor to Paterno since his days at Temple, was asked Wednesday for the reaction to the news at his alma mater.

"As I've been saying all week, just disheartening, sad," Golden said on Wednesday's ACC Teleconference. "Clearly thoughts and prayers go out for the young people, the victims in this case. Certainly equally my prayers go out to coach, too. It's tough.

"Again, I don't know much about it. Certainly you're more informed than me. We're in the middle of Florida State week. Just disheartened by the whole thing and saddened by it, keeping everybody in my thoughts and prayers from a distance."

Golden, who just last week reaffirmed his commitment to UM after his agent told CBSSports.com UM had made “overtures” to Golden about restructuring his contract amid the NCAA investigation that took him by surprise just months after he was hired, later was asked how he plans to counter the distraction of speculation he’ll face in the coming months that he might succeed Paterno.

"We're going to counter it by playing well and preparing well," Golden said. "We've gotten two commitments in the last 48 hours. I think there's going to be another one here today or tomorrow.

"We're excited about what we're building here. I can't worry about what other people are saying. I think you know me to know well enough that I don't worry about the media. Just moving the team and our players forward. Really trying to enjoy this. Trying to enjoy the fact we're in the middle of Miami-Florida State week, to be honest with you."

Golden later added he hasn't had much time to think about what's happened at Penn State because he's been busy preparing his team for the Seminoles. "I'm not sitting here watching ESPN," Golden quipped. "We're just getting ready for Florida State."

Hate to say it, but I don't think any coach at UM has had to deal with more off the field crap in their first 11 months on the job here than Golden. It just feels like he hasn't been able shake free of any off the field distractions since August. To his credit, he's answered all the questions with class. We'll see, though, what happens when he's directly asked if he's interested in the Penn State job. That hasn't happened yet.


> Golden said redshirt freshman Jonathan Feliciano -- coming back from a left foot sprain -- will play this week as expected and will likely split time with sophomore Seantrel Henderson at right tackle. "They're fighting it out," Golden said of the starting job. "Right now it's 50/50. We'll probably determine it by tomorrow."

> The news isn't as good for senior linebacker Jordan Futch who was "very, very limited" in Wednesday's practice.

"It'll have to be a really, really positive trend here in the last 72 hours for it to go the right way for him," Golden said.

Just my gut feeling here, but I expect UM to employ a starting lineup at linebacker like we saw versus Georgia Tech: Denzel Perryman (weakside), Sean Spence (middle) and Jimmy Gaines (strongside) with Marcus Robinson and Kelvin Cain providing depth and support.

"Kelvin is going to be a good player," Golden said Tuesday. "Kelvin just needs to be patient and continue to learn and grow. He’s got length. He can rush the passer. He’s strong so he can lock out on tight ends. He’s versatile enough to give us help in coverage."

> Defensive tackles Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson, on the injured list all season, both began practicing this week. Both were with the scout team Wednesday, and Porter wore a huge protective club on his injured left hand.

"This was Luther's first day back and this is Porter's second," Golden said. "They haven't had preseason camp - they're a long way away [from seeing the field]."

Translation: They'll only play in an emergency situation and are really just out there practicing.