Al Golden was Al Golden on Sunday (just like Stephen Morris always says "Duke was Duke"), as the Hurricanes head into Florida State week and the biggest game of Golden's UM coaching career.
He said he doesn't pay attention to the rankings. (Note: He often says the only ones he'll notice are at the end of the season.) He said trying to take care of FSU with all those weapons will be difficult. He said the stakes are getting higher as the Canes keep winning. He said he worries every day about his players falling prey to the outside noise (about, for example, rankings or how good or otherwise they might think they are or about how they're going to be in a bowl) instead of concentrating on one opponent at a time.
And he did offer up on his own, without being prodded, that he intends to stay at Miami for a long time. I'm sure all the reporters' ears perked up when they heard that quote. In the long run it doesn't ensure anything, but it was refreshing to hear that from a guy who has brought this program to new (recent) heights.
In terms of what a win against Florida State would do for your program, is this the biggest game since you've been here?
Golden's reply: "They're all big now. When you're winning, all the games are significant. The stakes gets higher as you climb the ladder for sure. There's not much margin for error now certainly as we're closing in on November. We have to trust the process, take our training to the game and everybody do their job and block everything else out, block all the other crowd noise out and focus on what we've got to do six seconds every play.
"I know it sounds cliche, but we have to use our maturity and experience and be able to do that and be able to hold each other accountable all week to invest in it. That's the biggest thing.
"I'm not worried about the magnitude of games or anything like that. I plan on being here for a long time and facing a lot of these games.''
With a No. 7 ranking in the AP poll and No. 6 among the coaches, the Canes have maintained despite pulling out wins in the last minute the past two games. Even though teams have jumped them, if Miami beats FSU it will be in excellent shape. Then again, can you imagine beating FSU and having to play the Seminoles again in the ACC title game? (Or the other way around?)
Either way, just winning the ACC this season would be an amazing (if not next to impossible) achievement.
Briefly, Golden said WR Allen Hurns (hip pointer) is doing well, and he is hoping he gets back S Kacy Rodgers (ankle) for FSU. He said WR Rashawn Scott (collarbone/shoulder), as has already been reported, was cleared for Wake Forest. But Golden didn't say why Scott didn't play. That extra week of healing has to be beneficial.
The BCS standings will be released tonight.
Oh, yes, if you don't know already, FSU has opened as a 21-point favorite over the Hurricanes.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN