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Blake James addresses Golden's firing; A look at potential UM replacements for Al Golden, including (at least) two with interest

Here's what athletic director Blake James had to say in a conference call minutes ago after firing Al Golden and replacing him with interim coach Larry Scott, the team's tight ends coach:

### "Obviously, just a tough day for me in a situation as athletic director. One you never want to have to deal with. Al navigated us through the NCAA case. He also represented the institution in a first-class manner. Anytime you have to make that type of decision it's very difficult. But it came to the point I felt [this is] what was best for our program. I made the decision this afternoon and let Al know. I notified [players] of the decision.

"I felt going through yesterday's game, my analysis had been to the point [that] the end result had been identified. We were not where I felt we needed to be as a program. I didn't feel we were where we needed to be at this point in the process, and this was the decision that needed to be made."

### Why Larry Scott? "My analysis of our staff, I felt Larry had the right qualities to be able to step in and lead our young men over the next five weeks. Larry was the best choice."

James said nobody has been fired except Golden. "Larry is the head coach for the next five weeks. He will make whatever changes he needs to do to... put our team in the best position to be successful in these games," James said.

Asked if Scott will coach UM in a potential bowl games, James said: "Larry will be our coach as long as this season is going."

### Do you regret bringing Golden back this season? "No, not at all. I stand by that decision."

### James said he would not discuss if he's going to use a search firm and whether he would wait until December to hire a coach (which would allow him to speak to active coaches).

"We are going to look to get the best person for the job," is all James would say about the search.

### What do you look for in a next coach? "You want someone who can recruit... someone who recognizes what our program's expectations are, where we have been in the past and where we want to be in the future."

POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS

Former UM assistant coaches Greg Schiano and Mario Cristobal are among those who have interest in the Hurricanes head coaching job, according to close associates, and athletic director Blake James is expected to cast a wide net in his search for a replacement for Al Golden, who was dismissed on Sunday.

Three former coaches with UM ties – Schiano, Cristobal and Rob Chudzinski – are all expected to be discussed internally and could emerge as serious candidates. Cristobal and Chudzinski both played and coached at UM.

Former UM coach Butch Davis, who went 51-20 as UM’s coach from 1995 to 2000 but has been out of coaching since North Carolina dismissed him before the 2011 season, also has interest, according to friends. [Update: Davis confirmed his interest in 790 The Ticket on Monday].

Nobody has ruled out Davis, but two Board of Trustees members said they would be surprised if Davis, 63, is considered because of the way he left North Carolina, amid a student athlete academic scandal across numerous sports. Even though he wasn’t directly implicated by the NCAA, many believe Davis was tarnished and he hasn’t found a job since. One Trustee said discussion of Davis usually elicits an eye roll among UM officials.

Schiano, 49, considered an excellent defensive coach, guided UM’s defense, under Davis, in 1999 and 2000. He transformed a moribund Rutgers program into a winner, highlighted by an 11-2 season in 2006, and went 68-67 in 11 years there, including 5-1 in bowl games.

Schiano, who recruited South Florida heavily as Rutgers’ coach, has been out of coaching since going 11-21 in two seasons as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who fired him in late December 2013.

Cristobal, 45, who attended Miami Columbus High, went 27-47 in six seasons as FIU’s coach, but that included 7-6 and 8-5 records in the fourth and fifth seasons. He was fired after finishing 3-9 in 2012.

Cristobal, a UM assistant from 2004-06 and considered a very good recruiter, joined Golden’s staff early in 2013 before leaving after only six weeks to join Nick Saban at Alabama, where he now serves as offensive line coach.

Chudzinski, 47, was a UM assistant from 1994 through 2003, including offensive coordinator the final three seasons of his tenure. He went 4-12 in his one season as a head coach, for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and has served as the Indianapolis Colts’ associate head coach since the start of last season.

Other potential candidates:

### Tom Herman. The former OhioState offensive coordinator, 40, is 7-0 in his first season as head coach at the University of Houston.

### Mike Shula. Son of legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, Mike has received plaudits for his work as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator since 2013. He went 4-9, 6-6, 10-2 and 6-6 in four years at Alabama before being fired after the 2006 season but left considerable talent behind for Saban, who replaced him. If Shula took the job, he could bring with him Panthers quarterbacks coach and former UM great Ken Dorsey.

### Rich Rodriguez. One UM official mentioned Rodriguez, a bright offensive mind, but it’s highly questionable if he would leave Arizona, where he’s 31-17 in three plus seasons after going 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 at Michigan.

### Justin Fuente. At 39, he appears to have turned around the Memphis program; he finished 4-8 and 3-9 his first two seasons but went 10-3 in 2014 and is 7-0 this season. The concern would be taking a chance on another mid-major coach, which UM did when it plucked Golden from Temple.

UM could explore pie-in-the-sky candidates such as Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (Miami spoke to him and had some interest before it hired Golden) and TCU’s Gary Patterson, but those types of names would be long shots.

Other names that could surface include Doc Holliday (30-6 over his past three years at Marshall and has signed well over 100 players from South Florida in his coaching career); Colts coach and former UM assistant Chuck Pagano (could be fired but the timing might not be right, since UM could have a coach in place before then) and former UM defensive backs coach Mark Stoops (had success as FSU’s defensive coordinator but 2-10, 5-7, 4-3 in his first three seasons coaching Kentucky).

Other interesting candidates could become available if they lose their jobs, such as Georgia's Mark Richt.

“There will be 50 head coaches who want this job,” said one high-level member of UM’s Board of Trustees. “This is a very attractive job. We’ve got talent down here. You just need to coach them up.”

But UM typically hasn’t paid as much for head coaches as the highest revenue schools.  Golden’s $2.5 million salary ranked 42nd among FBS coaches this season, according to USA Today. As an example, Mullen’s Mississippi State contract, which runs through 2018, reportedly pays him $4.3 million annually, on average.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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