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Manny Diaz Deserves a Reset

After Winning the Offseason Yet Again

Miami v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Make no mistake: 2019 was an unmitigated disaster of a season for the University of Miami Hurricanes Football Program.

From a season-opening disappointment against a hated rival, to a stupefying home loss to a reeling 1-5 GT team—and then somehow striking fool’s gold in the consecutive blowout victories over FSU and Louisville—the first ten games of the 2019 season was a whirlwind: enter FIU.

The penultimate game of the 2019 season looked to be a surefire and celebratory victory, as Miami was to bask in its return to the site of the venerable Orange Bowl. Butch Davis and FIU had other plans for the evening however, as FIU thoroughly dismantled Miami for three quarters before Miami finally lit the scoreboard, in a 30-24 loss.

After the wheels came off Miami’s 2019 season against FIU, Miami doubled-down on its ineptitude the following week at Duke in yet another loss, before capping off its season-ending losing streak versus Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, where Miami was able to accomplish a great feat: losing 14-0, Miami was the only team during the 2019 bowl season to not score a single point in its bowl game.

Just when it seemed all hope was lost for the Manny Diaz era...

Miami announced it had fired stubborn offensive coordinator Dan Enos, giving a downtrodden fanbase a breath of hope. In the days that followed the departure of Dan Enos, names swirled around local media outlets that included pipe-dream candidates like David Yost, and the oft-mentioned Rob Chudzinski and former quarterback Ken Dorsey. Through the hazy subterfuge, an outsider named Rhett Lashlee emerged. Since setting up camp at the Hecht, Lashlee has reinvigorated the Miami program with hope and excitement.

In the month since the hiring of Lashlee, Diaz, and co. have:

  • Convinced one of the most proven and exciting transfer quarterbacks since Russel Wilson to join the Miami Hurricanes in D’Eriq King.
  • Attracted an elite defensive end transfer in Quincy Roche to form a dynamic and formidable edge-rushing duo with Greg Rousseau.
  • Signed dependable and talented kicker transfer Jose Borregales to fix Miami’s kicking issues.
  • Hired Miami legend Ed Reed to a chief of staff role, where he will both advise the coaching staff, help with recruiting evaluations, and aid on-field player development with his expertise.
  • As if all of the above wasn’t enough, Miami also signed a consensus top-15 recruiting class headlined by the surprising signing day flip of S Avantae Williams!

In Making Widespread Changes, Manny Diaz Bucked a Dangerous and Confounding Trend

Miami coaches have generally made no changes after a failed campaign since Randy Shannon did so after his inaugural season in 2007, when he fired his friend Tim Walton from his post as DC and replaced him with veteran coordinator Bill Young. Following the 2008 season, Shannon also fired Pat Nix and replaced him with Mark Whipple. Despite these changes, Shannon could still not get the job done and was fired following a home loss to USF in the last game of the 2010 campaign.

Al Golden, whose reign of terror spanned 2011-2015, did not make any appreciable staff changes or upgrades that were not forced by departures. Mark Richt, who could perhaps still be Miami’s head coach had he fired himself and his son as OC and QB coach respectively, resigned his post as coach, rather than making staff changes following the 2018 season.

Enter Manny Diaz, who has now made sweeping changes after his first full season as head coach. Make no mistake: Diaz is culpable for the disaster that was the 2019 season. He is responsible for the worst loss in program history to FIU and the subsequent Independence Bowl debacle versus Louisiana Tech.

That being said, Manny Diaz—after winning the offseason once again in 2020—deserves a reset because he took a step back to evaluate the abhorrent state of the football program and has addressed nearly everything maligning it in a mere month!

Rhett Lashlee, an innovative up-tempo spread OC is just what the doctor ordered. D’ Eriq King is just what Miami needed to not only upgrade an immature and disinterested QB room, but also mesh with Lashlee’s dual-threat, spread offense. Similarly, Quincy Roche will fill the void left by the foolish departure of Jonathan Garvin, and Jose Borregales will undoubtedly solve Miami’s calamitous kicking game. The hiring of Ed Reed into a position of influence will most certainly help remedy Miami’s broken football culture.

All of the aforementioned changes combined with an infusion of talent attained via recruiting, leave me with much cause for optimism going forward. If Miami can combine its quality defense that forces havoc with competent special teams and a resurgent offense that can sustain drives and score points by keeping the opposition off balance, 2020 looks to set up for a big year—especially considering Miami’s (relatively) easy schedule.