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Manny Diaz: A Look Back

With high hopes of the future, we decided to take a step back, and look at what brought Diaz here

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s only suitable that the University of Miami would bring in the first-ever Cuban-American head football coach. A city that has a Cuban population of 54% and in many neighborhoods, Spanish conquers English as the native tongue. The Diaz family tree is already used to being in the Miami limelight, as Diaz’s father (Manuel Diaz Sr), was Mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009.

Diaz grew up attending Hurricanes and Dolphins games, cheering on the city with his father. He attended Miami Country Day School, where he played a variety of sports. But never dreamed of becoming the man that would be leading his hometown heroes, the Miami Hurricanes.

Diaz’s surprisingly went on to attend and graduate from Florida State University, the home of the Seminoles, the infamous rivals of the Miami Hurricanes. He then went on to be a production assistant at ESPN, where he used his journalism degree to get as close to the action as possible.

However, the idea of coaching was always in Diaz’s head, and actually further evolved with his time at ESPN. When Diaz was working for EPSN, Sterling Sharpe was the NFL analyst at the time. Sharpe often joked to Diaz that he would go on to get the head coaching job at South Carolina and take Diaz with him. Although these conversations were always in a joking manner, Diaz was constantly reminded of the possible world of coaching and that someone with a deep understanding of the football world saw his drive and analytical talent for the game. “This guy is like an All-Pro wide receiver. That kind of set the bug in my ear,” said Diaz, “Like maybe this can be something that I could do.”

What Diaz lacked in experience and athletic skills (played left tackle for a low-level football college in high school, but had not played since.) He made up for with hard-work and passion.

After Diaz left ESPN he went on a whirlwind of coaching jobs. His experience and growth at each can’t be summarized into just bullet points, but below is a list of his coaching career:

  • (1998-1999) GA at Florida State
  • (2000-2001) GA at North Carolina State
  • (2002-2003) LB at North Carolina State
  • (2004-2005) S/ST at North Carolina State
  • (2006-2007) DC/S at Middle Tennessee
  • (2008-2009) DC/LB at Middle Tennessee
  • (2010) DC/LB at Mississippi State
  • (2011-2013) DC/LB at Texas
  • (2014) DC/LB at Louisiana Tech
  • (2015) DC/LB at Mississippi State
  • (2016-2018) DC/LB at Miami (FL)
  • (2019-present) HC Miami (FL)

Diaz briefly signed as a head coach for Temple on December 13, only to quickly return to Miami and accept the head coaching job, less than 12 hours after Mark Richt announced his retirement. He has already wiped out and reloaded the offensive coaching staff, and already has good relationships with players from his two years as a Defensive Coordinator. He’s the same man who created the “Turnover Chain” and that lights out defense that gave us an 10-3 season in 2017. This seemed like the most obvious and desirable hire considering Miami’s circumstances, but every team experiences growing pains under a new leader, and the “Chain Gang” is definitely no different. It might not be the first few games where we get to see what he’s capable of, but once he loosens up and gets his training wheels off, there’s a high ceiling of expectations waiting. Best of luck to our new head coach!