2 years into Mark Richt’s tenure as coach, the Miami Hurricanes have built a strong and tough team, based in large part to the top-tier coaching staff that has been assembled in Coral Gables.
With many CFB jobs coming open this coaching search season — that includes assistant jobs too, because new coaches never keep the entire assistant staff together — there has been talk of Miami coaches potentially being targeted for other jobs.
Here are my thoughts on Miami’s coaches and their status on this staff:
Head Coach Mark Richt
Outlook: Not going anywhere. Will be at Miami until he chooses to retire.
Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs coach Thomas Brown
Outlook: Still the youngest OC in P5 football, Brown has done a good job in that role and a great job as RB coach. He’s one of the top recruiters at his position in the country, and has locked down an ELITE duo of RBs, and the best FB in this class for the Canes. No, he doesn’t call plays (Richt does that), but he’s in a good spot. Any move offered would likely be a lateral move, and if that’s the case, I don’t see him leaving the recruits he’s bringing in for another “OC” job where he’s not calling plays.
Quarterbacks coach Jon Richt
Outlook: Works in tandem with his father Mark in coaching the QBs. He’s fine, I guess, but it would be an outright shock if 1. anybody came after him to leave Miami and 2. he left his father’s staff. He’ll be here for a while.
Wide Receivers coach Ron Dugans
Outlook: One of the coaches I’m most closely watching. Dugans has Miami’s WRs playing to a high level, and is a renowned teacher of technique and blocking at the position. Additionally, he’s a top-tier recruiter at the position, with 2 classes of WRs for proof of this fact at Miami, and years at other schools to add to that.
IF Jimbo Fisher stays at FSU, I expect him to take a run at Dugans because Lord knows FSU’s WR coaching has been terrible for YEARS. Dugans played at FSU, so there’s a connection there. And, even if not FSU, other schools could come calling based on Dugans’ work in coaching and recruiting to upgrade their WR coach position.
On top of being the WR coach, Dugans is the named “passing game coordinator” at Miami, which I’m sure enables him to earn a higher salary. That is something else that could be a factor for him moving forward. Either way, Dugans is one of the coaches I’m following closest through this coaching search/staff building (elsewhere) season.
Tight Ends coach/Special Teams coordinator Todd Hartley
Outlook: Hartley has done yeoman’s work coaching TEs at Miami. He helped David Njoku become a 1st round NFL Draft pick, and put Christopher Herndon IV in position to be an impact player for 2 years.
Additionally, Hartley has done a GREAT job in recruiting, having locked down 2 of the 4 best TEs in America for Miami this cycle, and also got the national #1 punter in 2017 (Zach Feagles) and national #1 kicker committed in 2018 (Bubba Baxa).
I think that someone will make Hartley an offer, but I don’t think it’s going to be this year. He’s a coach on the rise, though, so he’s worth watching.
Offensive Line coach Stacy Searels
Outlook: Searels has done a good job retooling Miami’s offensive line. He’s coaching up the current group and recruiting well for the future, and that combination should pay big dividends for Miami in the future.
With his up and down record of past performance, I don’t think that Searels is going to be on too many lists as new coaching staffs are built. But, with the work he’s done in Miami, and the way recruiting is going, that’s a good thing for the Canes.
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line coach Craig Kuligowski
Outlook: Another top-tier coach, Kuligowski is the best DL coach in America and I’ll fight you about it. His coaching is exemplary, and his recruiting is phenomenal, so who wouldn’t want him on their staff?
The Atlanta Falcons made a run at Kuligowski last year, but Miami promoted him to Assistant Head Coach, a move that allowed UM to pay Coach Kool more money. While many teams may want Kuligowski, I think that if he was going to leave Miami, it would have been last year. Still, he’s a coach worth watching, because he’s so good at his job, other teams (college or pro) may be willing to offer an outrageous number to try and pry him away from Coral Gables.
Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph
Outlook: Outcry against bringing Rumph to Miami from the HSFB level last year was loud, but after 2 years on the job, Rumph has shut the naysayers up with top level coaching and good (and potentially great) recruiting.
Corn Elder developed and had a stellar season in Rumph’s first year. Malek Young, Dee Delaney, and Trajan Bandy have all benefitted from Rumph’s tutelage. And that’s not even to mention the fact that Michael Jackson has been a REVELATION in his 2nd year under Rumph’s coaching.
On top of that, Rumph is credited with having locked down 4 top recruits in Miami’s 2018 recruiting class (Al Blades, Nesta Silvera, D.J. Ivey, Gilbert Frierson), and is the lead recruiter on 2 elite remaining targets: CBs Tyson Campbell and Pat Surtain Jr.
Rumph was a “gamble” in the eyes of many but he’s paid off big time for Miami already. With the CBs on the roster, and the ones either committed or being pursued to the end of this cycle, I find it hard to believe Rumph leaves Coral Gables this year.
Safeties coach Ephraim Banda
Outlook: Banda is the man. Plain and simple. He’s DC Manny Diaz (we’ll get to him in a bit) right hand man, and does a great job in recruiting and coaching. He’s credited with getting several top recruits for Miami in this class, most notably Josh Jobe and Gurvan Hall, and is the top-ranked recruiter in the ACC this cycle. That’s damn good.
On top of that, Miami’s safeties have played very well under his coaching. That is most notably seen in the play of junior S Jaquan Johnson, who was the ACC DB of the Week 3 consecutive weeks, and is a semi-finalists for Walter Camp National Player of the Year.
Banda has worked his way up from bartender to big time CFB coach, and his best days are in front of him. Another year or 2 with the success he’s already had at Miami, and Banda will surely get looks from other schools for either a lateral move or potentially as a Defensive Coordinator option down the road.
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach Manny Diaz
Outlook: Yeah, I saved him for last. What, you thought it would be otherwise?
If Dugans and Kuligowski are coaches I’m watching in the periphery, Diaz is the coach I’m watching like a hawk this coaching search season. A semi-finalist for the Broyles Award (Best CFB assistant coach) — and should be the favorite for that award, if we’re being honest — Diaz has been pitch-perfect in his time at Miami.
Not only have Diaz’s defenses returned to the championship foundations of the Hurricanes, he’s recruited LBs well, and developed the players at the position to boot. Diaz-led defenses are attacking and relentlessly violent, and they have become the calling card of the Canes’ program over the last 20+ games.
Diaz has had his name linked by journalists for the now-vacant Mississippi State job, and I’m sure other coaches are taking note of the vicious group of defenders he’s cultivating down in Coral Gables.
Being a Miami native (his father of the same name was once Miami-Dade Mayor, for reference), I don’t see Diaz leaving Miami for a lateral move or a minor college HC job. If the move is lateral, why not stay home? If the HC job isn’t a major job (places like UCF if it came open), I don’t think Diaz would leave. Not YET. Not THIS YEAR.
Like Searels, Diaz has had and up and down career. But with Miami’s defense being one of the top units in all of College Football, he’s risen up in many people’s eyes and could be a viable candidate for a head coaching job in the near future. I don’t think that would be this year, but who knows? Diaz has proven himself to be a good coach, and could parlay his success at Miami into another job — if he wants it.
As of today, with the trajectory of Miami’s program and the recruiting class that’s coming in 2018, I don’t think there will be changes to the assistant coaching staff.
BUT, if one (or more) assistants were to leave, this is who I think it would be:
- Manny Diaz
- Ron Dugans
- Craig Kuligwski
- Ephraim Banda
Those are my thoughts on where the coaching staff is and will be. Share yours in the comments below.