The NFL season has ended less than 72 hours ago, and it looks like the reigning AFC champions will have to search for a new assistant coach in the offseason.  

Bengals assistant Al Golden will be leaving Cincinnati to go join the Fighting Irish in South Bend. Golden will be the defensive coordinator for Notre Dame, rounding out a coaching staff that has hired seven new coaches in the offseason.

Golden is a veteran when it comes to coaching college football. He had coaching stints at both Temple and Miami, but was a .500 coach, never bringing his teams to the top. He did have mild success at Miami, leading them to a No. 7 ranking in 2013.

Bengals lose Super Bowl and Assistant Coach

Way before joining the Cincinnati Bengals, Al Golden led the Miami Hurricanes to a No. 7 record in 2013.

His time at Temple is remembered fondly by most college football fans as Golden took an abysmal Temple squad and turned them into a decent program. He also had success with the Bengals, and it’s a bit surprising to see him leave so quickly.

Golden reportedly is signing a three-year deal that will be finalized over the next few days.

Defensive Focus

At Notre Dame Golden will be responsible for vamping up a Notre Dame defense that placed 43rd in total defense last season. This shouldn’t be too large of a task in my eyes. Golden is an excellent recruiter with ties to high school programs throughout the country. He certainly helped the Bengals fix their defensive issues, as the Bengals had two interceptions in the Super Bowl last week.

The Fighting Irish are a top 15 team in the country when it comes to turnovers as well. Coach Golden will have to focus on pass rushing and defending the inside run to best help out a Notre Dame team that finished their year in embarrassing fashion, blowing a 28-7 second quarter lead in the Fiesta Bowl.

Bengals need to bounce back

The Bengals now have work to do. Obviously, all the players are going to grind in the offseason, especially Joe Burrow. I see him coming back with a vengeance next year. After seeing him walk off the field after that loss in the Super Bowl, the look he had on his face was one that said, “I’m going to make sure I never feel this ever again.”

That being said, the team now has to worry about replacing Golden at the assistant position.  He was primarily a linebacker’s coach, and I think guys like Logan Wilson improved steadily under Golden in Cincinnati.  Therefore, the Bengals have to find a solid replacement. I’d love to see a big name like Zach Arnett from Mississippi State or Tony Gibson from NC State to get the job, although I doubt it will happen.

Why did it happen?

The most likely and most predictable answer is that Notre Dame offered Golden an insane amount of money to leave the streets of Cincinnati for South Bend, Indiana. The details of the deal have not been confirmed or released yet, but I would be willing to bet that the deal is somewhere around three years for about three to four million dollars overall. 

This deal would put Golden at about 1.3 million per year, which is a little bit less than Mississippi State, Clemson, and Georgia pay their defensive coordinators. That number seems fair considering the success of the Bengals defense recently, and the fact that Notre Dame needs to make a push to win in the next few years. They clearly think it revolves around their defense.


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