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But that’s the funny thing. Miami might have been good this season _ still could be _ and Golden already has plenty of promising recruits in the pipeline.

The Hurricanes open the season Monday at Maryland without projected starting quarterback Jacory Harris, but with backup Stephen Morris _ who beat the Terps last season _ in his place.

Assuming they make restitution on the impermissible benefits laid out in the NCAA bill of particulars, Harris and four others will be eligible by the time similarly decimated Ohio State comes to town Sept. 17.

Olivier Vernon will be the only player still missing by Miami’s second Atlantic Coast Conference game, Oct. 8 against Virginia Tech.

So long as nobody else on the team gets suspended, a Coastal Division title is not out of the question.

That, in part, explains why Golden can afford to be magnanimous.

“I think it was probably fair,” Golden said about the NCAA action. “Clearly, whatever transpired, it wasn’t as over-the-top as everybody was initially reporting and all of those things. The NCAA and the university felt there was mistakes made … and I’ve accepted that. And now we’re moving forward.”

What remains to be seen is how far forward, and whether by season’s end, it’s enough to convince Golden to stick around.

And make no mistake, for at least the next few seasons, he will be holding most of the cards. The administration owes him.

Besides, he was a hot prospect when Miami came calling and no matter how things go, Golden is bound to be one of the favorites whenever Joe Pa calls it a career.

So far, though, he sounds like a keeper

“We have a plan and a culture that is part of our DNA, and everyone in here knows what we’re about. If we didn’t have that, we’d be scrambling right now. And we’re not scrambling.”


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) Follow him at