Goldsmith is perhaps best known for his coaching successes in the 1990s at two NCAA Division I programs that are not accustomed to success: Duke University and Rice University. His résumé includes the 1992 Sports Illustrated National NCAA Football Coach of the Year and the 1994 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. At Duke, he breathed life into a program still in the doldrums of the post-Steve Spurrier era and was known as a capable defensive tactician. His team's offenses were often hampered by the lack of athletic personnel and forced Goldsmith to compensate by running draws on third-and-long and throwing wide receiver screens 10 to 15 times a game.
His successful collegiate coaching career, however, saw an unceremonious end when he was relieved of his duties by Duke Athletics Director Joe Alleva just a year into Alleva's tenure, after only six wins in his last three seasons.
In addition, under Goldsmith's tenure, Duke's football program was ordered to pay walk-on kicker, Heather Sue Mercer, $2,000,001 in nominal and punitive damages for its discriminatory treatment of her during her time on the team. A federal jury found that Mercer was afforded less of an opportunity to practice and compete than other 'similarly situated' players (other walk-on kickers). Her allegations also included sexist statements made to her by Coach Goldsmith. (See Mercer v. Duke University, 190 F.3d 643 (4th Cir. 1999).