It seems that Diaz was a bit overwhelmed in his first season as head coach of the Hurricanes. On-and-off field issues plagued Miami throughout the year, often resulting in a lack of focus from the players, as stated in a tell-all interview with The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.
NEW: UM discussing strengthening drug policy, with stiffer penalties. And a different behind-the-scenes problem that the Canes program knows must be fixed: https://t.co/TInUJbI64z— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 12, 2020
Despite the behind-the-scenes issues, Manny Diaz was able to implement new rules and restrictions on players, including an update on the team’s drug-use policy. It’s clear that a ‘change in culture’ was necessary, and Diaz has taken important steps to get the Hurricanes re-focused and re-grouped.
To some degree, fixing the off-field issues may be just as important as fixing the on-field ones. An unmotivated team often doesn’t perform as well as a hungry one, regardless of ‘quality’ recruits and star-power.
In addition to changing the culture in Miami, Diaz has helped the Hurricanes improve in almost every facet this offseason. Some of these crucial areas include the offensive line, offensive coordinator, and quarterback.
The University of Miami football program announced Friday that Dan Enos has been relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. pic.twitter.com/9pnggcS7Pq— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 27, 2019
Being flexible and adapting for the best is typically a recipe for success—the Hurricanes couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new decade, thus far.
If the Hurricanes are able to ‘live’ up to the hype this season, it’ll put Diaz in a special group of coaches who also found sophomore-season-success. This list contains decorated head coaches such as Bob Stoops, who went 7-5 in his first season as head coach at Oklahoma in 1999 and followed it up with a perfect 13-0 in 2000, adding the Big-12 and National Championship to his trophy case.
Former-head coach Mark Richt also deserves to be included in the category—leading Miami to their best season in over a decade in his second year. While the ‘Canes didn’t make it to the College Football Playoff in 2017, they made their first-ever appearance in the ACC Championship, a notable achievement for the program, regardless of the end result.
The Miami Hurricanes have extended the contract of Mark Richt through the 2023 season. Richt has posted a 19-7 record in two seasons at UM. Miami appeared in the ACC Championship Game for the first time and played in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2004. #PressBoxUM pic.twitter.com/ea0Cpzz6a4— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) May 3, 2018
Ultimately, Diaz’s improvements this off-season are beneficial for the program, even if it doesn’t result in a championship-caliber season. What’s important is progress at this stage, especially when following-up a disappointing inaugural season.