Just 16 days ago, the Miami Hurricanes were dead on arrival. After losing to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl by 32 points, the Hurricanes were hit with the surprise retirement of their head coach Mark Richt and the rehire of Manny Diaz, who had spurned Temple to return to his former team and assume the new head coach opening.
Since then, the feelings around the program have been on the upswing and for good reason. Since hiring Diaz as their new head coach, the Hurricanes hired a well-respected Alabama coach (Dan Enos) for their offensive coordinator position and acquired three high-profile transfers when K.J. Osborn, Bubba Bolden and Tate Martell chose to transfer from Buffalo, USC and Ohio State respectively. With the new reality, a new motto for the 2019 college football has been developed for the Hurricanes: The New Miami.
While no one knows what the exact origins or meaning of ‘The New Miami’ the concept seems simple: change the culture around the program and get back to the golden age, where the Hurricanes produced NFL talent and won National Championships like it was natural.
However, talk is cheap and it always has been. While it’s easy for Hurricanes fans to latch onto ‘The New Miami’ motto because of a strong off-season, Manny Diaz has to do what so many coaches fail to do: turn a strong off-season into results on the field.
Turning strong off-seasons into results on the field is what failed Tennessee under Butch Jones. From Jones’ first recruiting class in 2014 to his final in 2017, the Volunteers had a top-20 recruiting class every season, including the 7th and 4th ranked class in 2014 and 2015, according to 247Sports. Despite the strong recruiting classes (one of which included NFL superstar Alvin Kamara), Jones finished his Volunteers’ coaching life with a 34-27 record and failed to make a SEC Championship or attend a New Year’s Six bowl game.
While it’s not fair to compare Butch Jones to Manny Diaz because no two coaches are the same, let Jones serve as a friendly reminder that talk is cheap. While it’s fun to latch onto things in the off-season and it’s okay to believe the Hurricanes’ tenure under Diaz will be different compared to other coaches, the reality is that Diaz hasn’t earned anything as a head coach, including ‘The New Miami’ motto.
The way Diaz will earn the motto is by winning football games against top teams. While the Hurricanes should usually beat teams like FIU or even North Carolina, the Hurricanes have to win games against ranked teams and win New Year’s Six bowl games, something every coach since Butch Davis has failed to do.
The first chance for Diaz and the 2019 Miami Hurricanes football program to prove the first off-season under Diaz was a look into the future comes in Diaz’s coaching debut, when the Hurricanes have the chance to defeat the Florida Gators, who finished the 2018 season with a 10-3 record and ranked 7th in the final AP Top 25 poll. Later in the season, the Hurricanes will have another chance to do so when the team battles Virginia Tech, a team that should be improved after a poor 2018 campaign. While the Hurricanes may very likely win 10 games this season, the games that will define the season will be the ones where the team plays the top teams.
Until that, Manny Diaz has a large task in front of him. Not only does Diaz have to learn and navigate how to be a head coach on the fly but he also has to win over multiple fans who are skeptical after another poor finish in 2018. The simplest way to do this? Win.