My initial reaction to the news that Miami hired Manny Diaz was “why?” Less than twelve hours after Blake James was “blindsided” by Mark Richt’s sudden retirement, the Hurricanes decided that Manny Diaz was going to be their 25th head coach.
Diaz has no head coaching experience, which is understandably a concern for some. But that wasn’t my issue. Shouldn’t the Hurricanes have at least attempted to look around? Was going with the safe hire the right thing to do? It sort of feels like Miami hit the panic button and went out and got Manny immediately.
I am in no way saying this is a bad hire. I have always loved the idea of Manny being the head coach of the Hurricanes some day. I just did not expect that day to come this soon and I don't believe anyone else did either.
But one of the first things that came to me when I saw this news was the tough decisions that Manny will have to immediately make as head coach. Stacy Searles needs to go, Jon Richt needs to go, and a decision needs to be made about Thomas Brown since he is one of Richt’s guys. Brown is an excellent recruiter and has done an exceptional job with the running backs, but hiring a new offensive coordinator realistically puts his job in jeopardy.
These are life-changing decisions that Diaz is going to have to make about men that were his colleagues on Thursday when Miami played in the Pinstripe Bowl. These relationships go much further than football. Does Manny have what it takes to call them into his new cushiony office and let them know they are out of work? It can’t be easy, especially for a first-time head coach.
The lack of experience is worrisome, but there is no doubt in my mind that this could potentially be a program changing hire. All great head coaches got their starts as young, fiery assistants that worked their way up the ranks.
There are also so many great things that come out of hiring him. The defensive staff will stay together, recruits will certainly give Miami a better look, and changes will be made on the offensive side of the ball.
The players also seem to approve of their new coach.
Gleeful!!! Got The News— Mike Harley Jr. (@MikeHarleyjr) December 31, 2018
BOOM!— Nesta (Jade) Silvera (@NJS_ERA) December 31, 2018
Alumni seem to approve as well, with guys like Chad Thomas, Corn Elder, Colin McCarthy, and Brad Kaaya expressing their approval of his hiring.
He has the respect of the locker room. The foundation of a great football team is there. There is an abundance of talent and the whole team has to be so excited about the potential of 2019 and beyond. A fresh mind on offense with the same attacking mentality on defense could make next years Hurricanes and and future teams that follow extremely dangerous.
I don't have to tell you about all the weapons that we have on offense. Even with Travis Homer going pro, we have a ridiculous running back room with Deejay Dallas, Lorenzo Lingard, Cam Davis, and Asa Martin.
We have Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory that are just scratching the surface of their potential at tight end.
Brian Hightower, Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins, Mike Harley, Marquez Ezzard, and Jeremiah Payton at wide receiver. The talent is there.
Obviously, the main issue is the quarterback. I attended the Orange Bowl and it was just unreal to watch two supremely talented quarterbacks battle it out. Having a good defense is great and all, but at the end of the day you need to score points. You can’t turn the ball over as much as the Hurricanes do. If they want to reach that championship level, which is the expectation for Hurricanes fans, they need to be able to move the ball consistently and score. That starts with the quarterback.
I hope Manny Diaz gives James Coley a call to run the offense. He has done great work with Jake Fromm at Georgia and has learned what it is to work with a championship caliber program. He is a fantastic recruiter and can actually develop Perry and Williams, unlike Jon Richt. Let the Miami boys run The U.
Speaking of recruiting, that is where Manny Diaz makes arguably the biggest impact. He brings an energy that has resonated so well with the South Florida fan base and with recruits throughout his tenure as defensive coordinator.
That will carry over on the recruiting trail as the head coach and that could be the difference between him and any other candidate the Hurricanes could have gone with. There is no doubt in my mind that recruiting played a major role in the decision to hire Diaz. It is already making an impact on DB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami’s top target out of Miami Southridge who is announcing his college commitment on January 5th at the All-American game in San Antonio.
Mhmm sounds good right about now !!!!!!!!— The Freak 7️⃣⚡️™️ (@dreamchaserTy10) December 31, 2018
So yes, hiring Manny Diaz might be a “safe” hire. It keeps the players and the defensive staff comfortable and excited. It absolutely was a quick decision. Miami did not do their due diligence and gauge the interest of other potential candidates.
What they did do is get the guy they believed was best fit to take this program to the next level on the field and on the recruiting trail. All there is to do now is sit back and wait to see how everything unfolds on the offensive side of the ball. It should be an exciting off-season.