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After frantic recruiting season, Golden eyeing spring ball

February 16, 2015

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — For Miami coach Al Golden, spring football might seem like a breeze compared to the whirlwind leading up to signing day.

Subsisting on gas-station sandwiches hurriedly picked up between meetings, dealing with delayed and canceled flights, spending the better part of a week fighting off the flu and getting an average of about five hours sleep per night were just some of the highlights from Golden’s calendar leading up to signing day earlier this month.

Spring football starts Tuesday at Miami, meaning Golden’s schedule — like most coaches around the country after the recruiting frenzy — should have more normalcy.

“The structure allows you to get your feet underneath you,” Golden said. “I took some time off this weekend. There’s so many things that are random that we can’t control in our job. Anytime you can get the structure of spring ball, that’s why coaches are all smiles.”

The Associated Press reviewed Golden’s itinerary for the three weeks leading up to signing day. Here’s a look at some of what went into those frantic days when he was working on closing out the signing class of 2015 but also on the groups for 2016 — ranked as the nation’s best so far based on early commitments — and 2017:

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WORK DAY

Golden averaged about a dozen meetings or events per day during the 21-day stretch, everything from individual talks with players or recruits, chatting with high school coaches, home visits and sometimes receptions for parents and families.

Excluding retweets, Golden posted only one thing on his Twitter account over that time, but he was hardly eschewing social media. Many mornings started with Golden exchanging direct messages with recruits and commits, and his shortest work day in that span appears to be about 12 hours.

Idle time was nonexistent. While some of Golden’s assistants were visiting one school, he stayed in the car and spent the next 90 minutes calling recruits from a nearby parking lot.

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TRAVEL

Golden took at least 13 flights — commercial, private and even one in a helicopter — in just over a week, the first three of those flights all being delayed or canceled. He visited at least eight different states, with the shortest stop being just about two hours.

The AP analysis of Golden’s schedule showed he logged about 12,000 air miles in one eight-day span alone.

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FOOD

Grab-and-go seemed to be the norm. The luxury of sit-down meals often didn’t fit into the schedule.

The first stop each morning was usually Starbucks, for Golden’s standard large black iced coffee. A bag of almonds got him through the bulk of one day, and picking up some fast food to take on a flight wasn’t unheard of, either.

“I’ve become more disciplined as I get older,” Golden said. “To get a sandwich, turkey on wheat or something as opposed to running in and getting a burger, I try to do a better job of that. Drink more water, fewer Diet Cokes, things of that nature.”

He made at least two stops for gas-station Cuban sandwiches while on the road, another trips to sub shops and sometimes caught a break when recruits’ mothers would cook for home visits.

Among those meals: country breakfast casserole and sausage at offensive lineman Brendan Loftus’ home in Tallahassee, Florida. Must have been a good meal and conversation, Loftus wound up signing with Miami.

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SLEEP

Golden averaged about five hours of daily sleep over the 21-day stretch going into the day that recruits could formally sign their letters of intent.

Some nights, sleep was in very short supply.

On Feb. 3, the day before signing day, Golden started work the moment he awoke — and didn’t stop for the next 20 hours. The biggest sleep total he got during that stretch was about seven hours, which many doctors consider to be on the low end of a basic requirement for most adults.

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FLU

Given all that, it’s no wonder Golden got sick.

He was dogged by the flu for parts of five days, loading up on three bottles of Gatorade and over-the-counter medication at pharmacies some mornings before beginning his daily schedule.

Nonetheless, no meetings appear to have been canceled or postponed by him fighting off the virus.

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IN THE END

After the class of newcomers was revealed on Feb. 4 — another player would sign the next day — Golden headed home for one last event.

He and his wife Kelly hosted a Signing Day party at their home, thanking football staff, school employees, administrators, educational advisors, coaches and all the others “who helped us during recruiting cycle,” Golden said. It lasted several hours, and Golden was busy cleaning up when the clock struck midnight.

With that, a new recruiting year had officially arrived.

“There’s never a year on record where you didn’t want one or two more kids to come,” Golden said. “But you’ve got to take a deep breath and show gratitude to all the people that help you along the way.”

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