It wasn’t long ago that the Miami Hurricanes were certain that Mark Richt would be in the program’s future. Richt was responsible for Miami having it’s first winning season since 2004. However, Manny Diaz had a huge part in Miami’s success as well being the defensive coordinator.
Having taken the job as Temple’s head coach prior to Richt’s retirement, athletic director Blake James moved swiftly to bring Diaz back. Miami paid a buyout of four million dollars to Temple in order to get Diaz back to Miami to lead the program. Although he may not be the most popular name, he is the right name.
History Of Change
The University of Miami was not Diaz’s first introduction to a prestigious program. He began his coaching career at Florida State. He climbed quickly through the assistant coaching ranks and got a chance to be the defensive coordinator at Texas. It was there that Diaz would be fired after the second game in his third season after a loss to BYU.
Many used Diaz as the scapegoat for a declining Texas program but the Longhorns, up until the 2018 season, hadn’t won more than eight games in a season since his dismissal. It was Diaz’s ability to change culture which landed him the job.
In 2010, a season before taking the Texas job, he transformed Mississippi State’s defense. Before Diaz, the Bulldogs defense ranked 71st in the country in scoring defense but ranked 22nd in the same category. Even after being let go from Texas, the results from his defenses were noteworthy. In 2014 with Louisiana Tech, his group led the nation in turnovers.
This made Diaz a prime coordinator candidate for Richt upon taking the Miami job in 2016. Much like the trend in his previous jobs, Diaz transformed a defense which ranked 69th in scoring defense into a top 20 unit. Even more impressive was the fact that Miami did so starting three true freshman at linebacker.
Diaz Understands What Miami Needs
Few people understand the history of Miami Hurricanes football like Manny Diaz. It’s the reason why his defenses have coined the term #86Gang. It’s a tribute to one of the legendary defense’s that allowed only one team to score over 21 points.
In his second season with the Hurricanes, Diaz saw that the defense needed to produce more turnovers. This led to the birth of the Turnover Chain and a season of over 30 turnovers which helped the Hurricanes win 10 games. Even after that, Diaz saw more room for the Hurricanes defense to grow. This season the defense ranked number two in total defense after moving to essentially a 4-2-5 scheme.
Based off his history alone, Diaz can be trusted to make the necessary adjustments to whatever it is the team will need. Offensively, he stated in his introduction that he wants the Miami offense to be “modern and cutting edge”. Backing up his actions even further, Diaz relieved the entire offensive staff of their duties. A harsh action but as the head coach he deemed it necessary.
What Will It Take?
Miami’s defense has been on a championship level since he’s been there but now it’s up to the assistants to maintain that level. Offensively, it is up to Diaz to hire an offensive coordinator that can take advantage of Miami’s talent. In addition to that, Miami needs a coach that can develop the quarterback position. The Hurricanes will only return one quarterback with significant playing experience in N’kosi Perry. However freshman Jarren Williams is a former Army All-American and was also selected into the Elite Eleven out of high school.
Mark Richt left Miami in way better shape than he found it, both in terms of the roster and facilities. Before the Hurricanes can reestablish themselves nationally, Miami has to win its division. If Miami can consistently win the Coastal division, then Diaz can measure the team’s progress against Clemson. After reaching the championship game for the first time in program’s history, Miami saw a spike in it’s recruiting securing a top ten class.
Many will not want to hear it but at some point during his tenure, Diaz will require some patience. Before he gets appointed as the second coming of Jimmy Johnson, realistically this is still Diaz’s first time being a head coach.