Following Miami’s 6th loss of the regular season, a 27-17 defeat at the hands of a previously 4-7 Duke Blue Devils team who entered the game on a 5 game losing streak, and losing that game on the heels of the historic loss to FIU a week ago, one thing is crystal clear to me:
Miami Hurricanes Coach Manny Diaz is on the Hot Seat
I don’t say this flippantly. I don’t say this emotionally. I say this critically and objectively. And it’s absolutely true.
Diaz was brought back to Miami from Temple, where he held the position of head coach for 13 days, to return Miami to winning. Having been the architect of Miami’s defense, a championship-caliber unit that was undone and underserved by a shoddy (at best) offense, Diaz was billed to be the perfect guy for the job.
However, instead of making Miami good and winning games, Diaz’s group, incredibly talented and athletically gifted across the roster, tripped and stumbled to a 6-6 record with some TERRIBLE losses along the way. With more talent on the roster than any team they played with the exception of Florida and Florida State — teams with comparable talent to Miami — there was no reason to lose this many games. With a pillow soft schedule, there was no reason to lose more than 2 MAYBE 3 games this regular season.
Yet even if you held a comparatively pessimistic prediction before the season of 8-4 — as opposed to my (and others’ 10-2) — MIAMI HAS VASTLY UNDERACHIEVED EVEN THAT RECORD!
And, moreover, it’s not just the fact that Miami has underachieved this season. It’s the WAY they’ve underachieved and the teams to which they’ve lost. Let’s look at the 6 losses, shall we?
- Season opener to Florida kicking off CFB’s 150th season 24-20. Actually one of the better games Miami played this year. OL was a sieve giving up 10 sacks, missed some tackles and blew some coverages that Florida used to put points on the board and win the game, but this was something Miami should have built from. SPOILER ALERT: They did not.
- Week 2 at North Carolina 28-25. Miami’s FIRST loss after a bye. 4th and 17. And the beginning of the major kicking issues that have plagued this team in 2019.
- Week 6 vs Virginia Tech 42-35. Ah yes. 3 Jarren Williams interceptions — his first 3 of his career — on Miami’s first 3 drives. 4 turnovers in the first 13 offensive snaps. A QB change. Spotting Virginia Tech a 28-0 lead with ALLLLLL the turnovers. Effectively saved Justin Fuente’s job (VT was REELING before this game). Oh, and the SECOND loss after a bye. A pattern emerges.
- Week 8 vs Georgia Tech 28-21 in OT. The worst loss of the year....to this point. A then 1-5 GT team, on a 4 game losing streak, came into Hard Rock Stadium, forced 29 (!!!!!!!!) missed tackles, and earned the signature win of their season in Geoff Collins’s inaugural year with the Yellow Jackets. GT would go on to lose their next 3 before beating NC State and getting their doors blown off by Georgia to end the year 3-9.
- Week 13 at FIU 30-24. The worst loss in program history. The THIRD time Miami lost after a bye this year. The first time Miami has ever lost to FIU. Absolute rock bottom.
- Week 14 at Duke 27-17. Another bad loss to a losing (4-7 entering this game) team. Continued ineptitude offensively, a rash of injuries, and....a team that simply isn’t good enough. Duke had been 8-63 in their previous 71 games when trailing at half. Make that 9-63 after this game.
After rebounding to beat Pitt, FSU, and Louisville following the Georgia Tech loss, there was optimism that things were going the right direction. Diaz himself trumpeted the fact that “things are rolling” and Miami was “going in the right direction” and other such statements. Those were proven false.
That optimism is dead and gone.
At 6-6 with no less than 3, but arguably 5, bad losses on the record for this year, Manny Diaz is officially on the hot seat. He came in talking BIG SHIT after taking over for Mark Richt. (start at 7 seconds and watch for about....I dunno....a minute. To hear the bravado and the methodology)
He threw shade and cast aspersions at the former offensive staff, and fired every offensive coach in one fell swoop. He came in talking about a “cutting edge” offense, and “changing the culture”— a culture he helped build but I digress — and how 7-6 is unacceptable at Miami and things WOULD be different.
A 7-6 record for the 2019 is the ABSOLUTE CEILING now heading into a bowl game, and Diaz’s record this year is actually a step BACKWARD, 6-6 following 7-5 in the 2018 regular season.
You can be brash as a coach. You can lose games as a coach. You can’t do both. Unless you’re Manny Diaz.
I think it’s still too early to talk about firing Diaz himself. Not at this juncture. Not for this school/program. But while firing Diaz may not be imminently possible to me, the fact that his hold on the position is getting untenable and the pressure on him to win.... NOW..... is increasing to the most dire of levels is clear.
The talent on the roster, the infrastructure on defense — Diaz’s hand crafted unit that was to be the foundation of a return to winning games — and the schedule, pillowy soft and perfectly set up for 10 wins in the regular season EASILY had expectations, reasonable expectations, sky high in Diaz’s first year.
In spite of all that, Manny Diaz, the coaching staff, the players...this entire team failed this season. They failed hard and repeatedly. Persistent issues were not addressed with anything but words. And try though he might have, Diaz showed time and time again that he doesn’t currently have the methods or techniques to get the performance of the Hurricanes to where he, or anyone, wanted it to be.
And because of those failings, and mainly because of 3 TERRIBLE losses — to Georgia Tech, FIU, and Duke — Manny Diaz is now firmly, squarely on the hot seat.
As well he should be.
Instead of returning Miami to winning games and setting records, Miami endured worsts and firsts on the losing side of the record instead. “The New Miami” indeed.
All that talk is dead, Manny. Either get things fixed (and we’ll talk about how to do that soon), or pack your stuff, probably in the middle of the 2020 season.