CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- More than three months after the end of the 2012 season, the Miami Hurricanes started spring practice on Saturday.
And coach Al Golden thinks his team largely picked up from where it left off last fall.
Golden gave the Hurricanes rave reviews after about a two-hour workout Saturday, one where the team had three new assistant coaches on the field to work with a group that brings 20 starters back on the offensive and defensive side of the football.
"Good tempo, good start," Golden said. "I told the team I thought we were better today than when we got back from (the season-finale at Duke), which is not easy to do."
Miami did not go to a bowl game in 2012 after a second-straight season of self-imposed sanctions because of the NCAA investigation into the Hurricanes' athletic department. The Hurricanes finished 7-5 last season and, if they had chosen to go to postseason play, would have represented the Coastal Division in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Golden has long said that he believes the worst is over for Miami as it relates to the investigation, and now that the sanctions phase has begun -- the Hurricanes are preparing for a June 14-15 hearing before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions -- his thinking has not changed.
"That's signaling of the beginning of the end to me was big," Golden said. "You could almost sense it in the building and for the players that we have a chance to move forward now. We know that there's at least a terminal date now as opposed to being in the gray and we're excited about moving forward."
Miami's new assistants are offensive coordinator James Coley, tight ends coach Larry Scott and running backs coach Hurlie Brown, who had worked with the Hurricanes in a non-coaching capacity.
Coley came to Miami from Florida State, where he had the same title but was not calling plays. At Miami, Coley will replace Jedd Fisch, who left for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I'm excited about him," Golden said of Coley, adding that they've had mutual friends and a high level of respect for one another for some time. "He brings a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge, passion. And he's really done a great job just taking over. He's put his ego aside because we didn't want to mess with the quarterbacks and the offense too much in terms of terminology. He's put his own spin on things."
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