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Looking At How Past UM Coaches Fared In Their First Year

With the Manny Diaz-era officially underway at Miami, we took a look at how other first-year Canes coaches did.

Butch Davis...

We’re now a week into the Manny Diaz-tenure at Miami, though it feels like it’s been much longer than that (in a good way). The first couple days following his hiring was filled with press conferences, interviews and getting rid of the offensive coaching staff, which only juiced up the fan base even more.

Though, this weekend proved to be Diaz’s first challenge, while he watched once-promising recruits slip away from UM and commit elsewhere, still no offensive coordinator hired, as well as star defensive end Joe Jackson declaring for the NFL Draft. If you were to look on Twitter the past few days, you would’ve thought that Diaz had just finished a winless season, but we all know that building Miami back into a national contender does in fact take time.

As the programs’s 25th head coach, the Hurricanes have definitely seen their fair share of coaches stumble, or not stumble, through their first year on the job in Coral Gables.

Let’s take a look back.

Starting off with Mark Richt, remember him? The former Hurricane player spent 15 years as head coach at Georgia, before returning home to Miami at the end of the 2015 season. The Canes were 8-5 the year prior to Richt’s arrival.

Welcomed with great fan-fare, Richt took over a program that had just fired Al Golden two months before, and was looking to get back to where the U once was. Richt hired on almost a complete new coaching staff

Even after Miami had gone through a disappointing 2015 campaign, and with just eight weeks on the job, Richt still secured a top-20 recruiting class in 2016.

In his first season, Richt led the Canes to a 4-0 start before losing four consecutive games, including a one-point home loss to Florida State. Though, Richt ended 2016 on a very high note, coming away with five straight victories and a 9-4 record, while also capturing Miami’s first bowl victory in a decade.

In his first full year recruiting for Miami, Richt’s 2017 class was ranked 12th in the nation, and second in the ACC.

Al Golden was hired by Miami in December of 2010, coming over from Temple where he had spent five seasons. In 2010, the year before Golden came, the Hurricanes had stumbled to a 7-6 season.

Struggling for recruiting, Golden’s first class in 2011 finished 33rd nationally and even worse sixth in the ACC.

Before we start bashing Golden for his struggles, we must admit that his first season at Miami, Golden was faced with a situation completely outside of his control. Before the Canes even played a down in 2011, the Nevin Shapiro scandal rocked the program, which eventually resulted in the suspension of eight players throughout the year, and constant worrying about a further decision by the NCAA.

On the field, Miami went 6-6 in 2011, which was just the third time since 1979 that Miami had failed to post a winning record. While victories against Ohio State and Georgia Tech were nice, ultimate losses to FSU, Maryland and Boston College, as well as an ongoing investigation overshadowed any progress.

In his first full year recruiting for Miami, Golden’s 2012 class was ranked 10th in the nation.

Before Golden, Randy Shannon was the head coach for the Canes, taking over for Miami in December of 2006 after serving as defensive coordinator for UM since 2001. The Hurricanes were coming off a mediocre 7-6 year in 2006 at the time Shannon was hired.

When it was announced Shannon would be the next head coach, it seemed like a no-brainer home run for the program. Not only was he a longtime assistant at Miami, he also played there in college under Jimmy Johnson.

The hype continued into the spring when Shannon delivered a top-15 recruiting class and hired six new coaching assistants. With returning players, it seemed as if the first season under this lifelong-Cane would result in bringing the U back.

Excitement turned into despair, which then turned into absolute horror. A 51-3 beatdown at the hands of Oklahoma, and most notably a 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final game at the Orange Bowl. Shannon’s team lost its last four games and six of its last seven, finishing at 5-7, the first time in a decade that Miami hadn’t qualified for a bowl game.

In his first full year recruiting for Miami, Shannon landed the number one class in the country in 2008.

Larry Coker was the coach prior to Shannon, being named the head coach for the Hurricanes in 2001. Coker had served as the Miami offensive coordinator since 1995, and Miami was coming into his first year off an 11-1 season in 2000, and favorites to win the national championship in 2001.

As we all know, Coker did his part, and coached the Hurricanes to one of the greatest seasons in college football history, going 12-0 and capturing the schools fifth national title and also winning coach of the year.

In his first full year recruiting for Miami, Coker’s 2002 class was ranked fifth.

Finally, let’s look at Butch Davis, who we all hold dear in our hearts. A former assistant at Miami in the 1980’s, Davis left being the defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys to be the head coach for the Hurricanes in January of 1995.

Shortly after his hiring, the program was founded of several NCAA violations that occurred during the time of Miami’s former coach, Dennis Erickson. Much like Golden, Davis’ first year and any success that came with it was overshadowed by the looming cloud of an NCAA investigation.

As it’s very well documented in the 30 For 30’s, Davis did not get off to a great start at Miami. However, one must understand how high expectations were at Miami prior to Davis’ arrival, as the Hurricanes were title contenders year in and year out.

Then all of a sudden, 31 scholarships are taken away over-time and Miami is banned from postseason play for the 1995 season.Miami finished 8-3 in Davis’ first season, and would eventually take several years before the Canes were contenders again.

After reading, several things that we already knew are in still intact, Miami is a tough place to coach at. The expectations are incredibly high and always will be, you also have people calling for your job hours even after your hiring.

Also, Diaz is stepping into a position that several Canes coaches were at when they were first brought in. With the exception of Coker, nobody listed here walked into a pretty situation when they were first hired, and surely Diaz isn’t either.

Even after all that, it’s so early in Diaz’s time as head coach that its laughable to criticize him. Heck, Florida is still over 230 days away.