On Wednesday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish announced the official hiring of Al Golden as the new linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.
Notre Dame press release:
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame’s Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman made his first Irish staff complete by hiring renowned defensive coach, Al Golden, to serve as the Bob Hinton Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach.
“Al’s defensive background and knowledge of this profession makes him a valuable asset to our program,” said Freeman. “He is known for getting the absolute best out of his players both on and off the field. Additionally, he will be a great resource for me and others on our staff with his previous experience as a head coach. I am thrilled that he has joined our staff at Notre Dame.”
Golden recently completed his 29th season as a coach, including his sixth in the NFL and second with the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. Ten of his seasons previously coaching in college came as a head coach, as he led both the University of Miami (Fla.) and Temple University. And while he played tight end at Penn State, much of his coaching background and success has come on the defensive side of the ball, specifically with linebackers.
In 2021 under Golden’s guidance, linebacker Logan Wilson was a standout for the Bengals as he led the defense with four interceptions in the regular season and made the game-saving pick against the Titans off a deflection in the playoffs. Linebacker Germaine Pratt had a big season as well, and made the game-winning interception against the Las Vegas Raiders to seal Cincinnati’s first playoff win in 31 years.
In 2020, without the benefit of an in-person offseason program due to COVID-19, Golden guided a young Bengals linebacking corps that featured three rookie draft picks and a 2020 unrestricted free agent signee. The steady development of those young linebackers paralleled the Bengals’ improved defense as the season went along, as they helped hold opposing quarterbacks to just a 62.8 completion percentage, sixth-best in the NFL.
Golden spent 2016-19 as an assistant with the Detroit Lions, where he was tight ends coach his first two seasons, before moving to linebackers coach for his final two. As linebackers coach, Golden’s squad helped key a massive defensive turnaround that saw the team rank 10th in the NFL in total defense, a 17-spot improvement over 2017 and 10th in rush defense, up eight spots from 2017.
Prior to his time in Detroit, Golden coached in the college ranks for 23 seasons, including 10 as a head coach — Temple University from 2006-10, and Miami (Fla.) from ’11-15. He won numerous awards during his time as a head coach, including 2009 MAC Coach of the Year while at Temple, and the 2013 Lombardi Award for Excellence in Coaching while at Miami. He was named to the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame’s class of 2020.
While at Miami, Golden led his teams to bowl games in each of his five seasons. In 2012, Golden’s second season at Miami, the Hurricanes won the ACC’s Coastal Division championship, despite the program undergoing an NCAA investigation for violations that occurred prior to his arrival.
Golden’s first head coaching assignment came at Temple, where he sparked one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Golden led the Owls to winning records in each of his last two seasons, after the school had achieved just two total winning seasons over its previous 26 years. His 2009 Temple squad finished 9-4 and tied for the MAC East Division title (7-1 record), earning a spot in the EagleBank Bowl, which was Temple’s first bowl game since 1979 and only the third in the program’s 112 years of existence. The team’s nine wins in 2009 were also the second most in school history (program started in 1894).
From 2001-05, Golden served as defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia, under head coach Al Groh. At the time he was hired in 2001, Golden was the youngest defensive coordinator in FBS (formerly Division I-A). He worked closely with the Cavaliers’ inside linebackers from 2001-04, and the defensive backfield in ’05.
Prior to his tenure at Virginia, Golden was linebackers coach and a recruiting coordinator at his alma mater, Penn State, in 2000. He spent the previous three seasons (1997-99) as the linebackers coach at Boston College, after beginning his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Virginia from ’94-96.
Golden launched his coaching career in 1993, as offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic High School.
Prior to his coaching career, Golden was a three-year letter winner and two-year starter at tight end at Penn State. He was the 1991 recipient of Penn State’s Ridge Riley Award, given annually to a football player who displays excellence in scholarship, sportsmanship, friendship and leadership. He also served as team captain of the 1992 Nittany Lion squad that won the Fiesta Bowl. After graduating, he spent one year in the NFL with the New England Patriots, before turning his attention to coaching.
Golden was born July 4, 1969, in Colts Neck, New Jersey. He went on to star at Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic High, and was inducted into the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He earned his undergraduate degree in pre-law from Penn State in 1991, and then received his master’s in sports psychology from Virginia in ’96. Golden and his wife, Kelly, have three children: a son A.J., and daughters Addison and Grace.