Most Hurricanes fans were introduced to coach Manny Diaz probably when he was hired by Mark Richt as defensive coordinator in January of 2016. Not I, however. Little did I know that I had my first glimpse of Diaz three years prior, in the furthest place from Hard Rock Stadium you could think of.
September 7th, 2013 in Provo, Utah. I'm sure Diaz is one of the few people in America that remembers that date and location. Living in Utah, and not being able to witness too many occasions where top-tier college football programs visit any schools in the state, I jumped at the opportunity to go see the Longhorns of Texas square up against BYU. Being a fan of the University of Utah, I cheered for UT that night for the first and only-time in my life.
Though, I had to watch in disgust at LaVell Edwards Stadium, as Taysom Hill and the Cougar offense run up and down the field on the Longhorns defense all night long. Texas gave up a school record 550 yards rushing, including 257 of those to quarterback Hill in a humiliating 21-40 loss to BYU. The following day, UT head coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Texas makes it official: Manny Diaz has been fired, replaced by Greg Robinson.— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 8, 2013
Now, listen to this. On September 7th, 2019, the Miami Hurricanes, coached by Manny Diaz, will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to take on the Tar Heels. And as fate would have it, UNC is now coached by Mack Brown.
Obviously, Diaz’s career turnaround hasn't been an overnight situation, so let’s take a look back at what’s happened over the past five and a half years.
After being fired at Texas, Diaz wasn’t exactly the hottest assistant coach on the market for Power-5 schools. Though, he landed another coordinator job at Louisiana Tech, when they hired the Miami native as DC.
Louisiana Tech confirms Manny Diaz has been hired as defensive coordinator.— CollegeFootballTalk (@CFTalk) January 21, 2014
Diaz spent just one year with the Bulldogs, and transformed Tech into one of the top defensive units in nation, leading the country with 42 turnovers. The team also improved from 4-8 in 2013 to 9-5 in 2014 and division champs.
I'm happy for Manny Diaz. He is doing great stuff at Louisiana Tech. Was up for the Broyles Award this year. He'll end up being a HC. #Texas— Sean Adams (@thatsean) December 26, 2014
While just a year prior Diaz was out of a job, he was now in the position where Mississippi State was offering him the opportunity to be DC at their program.
Moving from being a coordinator in the Conference USA to now the SEC West, Diaz’s defense continued to be stout. In 2015, Mississippi State’s defense was top-10 in the country in both red zone D as well as tackles for loss.
While 2015 was a successful season in Starkville, Diaz was gone after just one year, and was hired by Mark Richt, who had just taken the head coaching position at Miami.
Miami announces the hire of Manny Diaz as its new defensive coordinator. He was most recently at Mississippi State.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) January 2, 2016
The son of Miami’s former mayor, Diaz’s arrival to UM seemed like a perfect fit, and it was. In 2016, the Canes defense was ranked 20th nationally, and also started three true freshman at linebacker. The next year in 2017, Diaz’s creation of the “Turnover Chain” swept college football, as the Hurricanes got out to a 10-0 start, and his defense led the country in sacks as well as collecting 31 turnovers.
During the 2018 campaign, even though a stagnant offense hindered further results for Miami, Diaz’s side of the ball was again one of the best in the nation. His pass defense was ranked first in the country, and was third in total yards given up.
Miami Hurricanes Defense in 2018— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) December 6, 2018
⚪ 1st in Passing Defense only allowing 1,690 yards
⚪ Gave up the 3rd fewest amount of yards in 2018 with 3,220
⚪ 22nd in Rushing Defense
⚪ 11th in Sacks
⚪ Tied for 14th in INTs
Still finished 7-5 pic.twitter.com/f3gUTR9lHZ
As the season neared its end in mid-December, it was reported that Diaz was going to be taking the head coaching job at Temple. While it was a major blow to us, it wasn’t a shock at all.
As we all know however, Diaz’s tenure in Philadelphia didn’t last too long. Mark Richt announced his retirement on December 30th, and Diaz was brought back that same day and hired as the head coach at the University of Miami.
The Miami Herald can confirm that Manny Diaz has been hired by the University of Miami as its newest head coach.— Susan Miller Degnan (@smillerdegnan) December 31, 2018
Manny Diaz Introductory Press Conference https://t.co/X06WqgmGY5— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) January 2, 2019
So there you have it, the journey from being fired at Texas, to the position he's at right now; the head man at his hometown program that Diaz has injected new life into. And when Miami lines up against Mack Brown and the Tar Heels, it’ll be Diaz’s chance to turn the tables on his old boss.