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2020 + 8 = 2021

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Why an eight win season guarantees a third year for Manny Diaz

Head coach Manny Diaz looks on as his team warms up prior to the game versus the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

First and foremost, I would like to begin this article by saying that I hope each and every one of our readers here at State of the U are doing what they can to keep themselves and their loved ones safe at all times, all while following directives from our government to stay home. We can do this if we all work together. I urge everyone to please hunker down and make the best of the madness. The more we have each others back and are considerate of one another, the quicker we can get back to tailgating and enjoying the best sport in the world. With that being said... yes you read the headline correctly, and yes it suggests that we will see football this year. Therefore, for the sake of keeping the good vibes rolling...

...WHEN the Miami Hurricanes take the field for the first time in the 2020 season on Saturday, September 5th versus the Temple Owls in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium, they will begin a season long journey that will be focused on eradicating the foul stench that marred the program during year one of the Manny Diaz era. A strong contingent of Canes fans were calling for the removal of the first year coach even before the season was over, and those same fans will undoubtedly hold the Guinness world record for shortest leash of all-time if the Canes do not look like the Canes in the first snap of the season.

Let it be known that I fully expect Miami to win the ACC Coastal and represent their side of the ACC in the conference title game come December. However, I remain carefully optimistic about the season, knowing that there are more questions than there are answers regarding how much Miami will improve from its 6-7 record in 2019. One question I do know the answer to is if Manny Diaz will be back following a mediocre season, and the answer to that is yes, and without a doubt. As a matter of fact, eight (8) wins is good enough for Manny to retain his title...here’s why.

Overall record improvement

Whether Manny pessimists want to hear it or not, eight is greater than six, and if Miami shows a two win improvement from its embarrassing and forgettable six win season in 2019, that in and of itself is reason enough for administration to not think twice about coach Diaz returning for round three. This is especially true if Miami were to win the bigger games on its schedule - at Michigan State and at home versus Florida State. It wouldn’t hurt either to see them avenge some really bad ACC loses from last year too (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech). To take it one step further, I truly expect to see Manny Diaz return for year three if he manages an eight win season even without winning the division.

Coastal division champions

Last season, the ACC Coastal champion Virginia Cavaliers won a total of nine games and held a 6-2 conference record, with one of those loses coming at the hands of the Hurricanes during a nationally televised game on a Friday night at home. As a matter of fact, their only other conference loss came to a team Miami also beat, the Louisville Cardinals. If the Coastal is as unpredictable as its been the past two seasons with PITT (7-7, 6-3 in 2018) and UVA being the last two champions, then it is not a foregone conclusion that eight wins will be enough to win the division in 2020. For arguments sake, pretend that the Coastal plays out the same way it did in 2018 and Miami wins seven games total just like PITT, but still manages to capture the division title which would be good for the programs second Coastal crown. Manny detractors will have to suck it up and eat crow because he will most definitely be the main man in 2021 if Miami claimed the division - regardless of record.

*Sidebar - Miami has beaten the last two Coastal champions in the same season that team won the division. Miami beat PITT 24-3 in 2018 and UVA 17-9 last season.

The first and last time Miami won the ACC Coastal division was in 2017 - Mark Richt’s second season at the University of Miami. He also won ACC Coach of the Year that season.
Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Al Golden, 2011 - 2015

2011: 6-6 (3-5)

2012: 7-5 (5-3)

2013: 9-3 (5-3)

2014: 6-7 (3-5)

2015: 4-3 (1-2) dismissed after week 8 loss***

Every time I think about this era of UM football history, I shake my head in disbelief. A man that many consider to be the worst coach in program history spent four and a half seasons as the main shot caller. Alfred James Golden Jr. accumulated a 32-25 overall record at Miami (6-6 after year one) while going 17-18 in the ACC, and it took Miami suffering its worse loss in program history, losing 58-0 at home to Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers, for him to be relieved of his duties.

He was hired as Miami’s head coach in December of 2010 right before self imposed and NCAA sanctions plagued the program. Most would point to bowl bans, the loss of scholarships, and negative recruiting from rival programs as a reason to give Golden a “pass” for his record at Miami. I on the other hand tend to think that poor decision making in terms of scheme, misuse of players strengths, lack of adjustments (in game, week to week, and season to season), along with loyalty to Mark D’Onofrio, supersede the fact that a dark cloud of uncertainty made things difficult for him to take this program to the next level. His stubbornness was inexcusable, period.

This is someone that had seven of his players drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft (tied with Alabama for 4th most by a school behind only FSU, Louisville, and Florida) and could only mange a 6-7 record that season.

If Al Golden had four and a half seasons at Miami, then Manny Diaz deserves at least that based off of principal alone. That’s how awful Canes football was under Golden. He automatically gave any future coach here a minimum of four years to get it right. Jokes aside, that’s what head coaches should get regardless. It should be that a head coach is able to see his first recruiting class exhaust its eligibility, and if things aren’t where they need to be in regards to program improvement, then it’s time for changes to be made.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Head coach Al Golden of the Miami Hurricanes  and head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers  shake hands after a game  at Sun Life Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Al Golden congratulates Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney after his team handed Miami their worst loss in program history. It also turned out to be Golden’s last game as Head Coach at the UM.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Common sense

Sometimes common sense isn’t very common, and fans lose sight of the fact that Miami is not in a position to pay people to not coach - again. That is exactly what will happen if the Board of Trustees were to give Blake James the green light to dismiss Manny Diaz. Despite a 6-7 season in 2019, Miami has a good thing going with this staff. Coach Diaz is only in his second year, and seems to have already learned plenty from his first season. He has proven it by taking swift action since the loss in the Independence Bowl to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs last December.

By the end of January and just over one month after the bowl loss, Diaz and crew:

  • Bid adieu to Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos (12/27/19)
  • Escorted Lorenzo Lingard off campus
  • Hired Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee
  • Said bye to Offensive Line Coach Butch Barry
  • Welcomed Offensive Line Coach Garin Justice
  • Signed Kicker Jose Borregales
  • Saw 13 early enrollees arrive on campus on January 13th
  • Hired two Offensive Assistants
  • Allowed Bubba Baxa to transfer
  • Granted Brian Polendy permission to transfer
  • Flipped Isaiah Dunson from FSU
  • Moved on from Wide Receivers Coach Taylor Stubblefield
  • Announced signings of D’Eriq King AND Quincy Roche on the same day
  • Welcomed Freshman Wide Receiver Keyshawn Smith
  • Relieved Jaren Williams of his scholarship
  • Hired Benedict Hyppolite as a Grad Assistant
  • Wished Scott Patchan well on his new journey
  • Welcomed Ed Reed back home as Chief of Staff (1/30/2020)

Nobody in their right mind can call Diaz stubborn after making so many necessary off season moves (this list does not even include the hiring of WR Coach Rob Likens). And with all of these new changes, it means Diaz checked off nearly every single box that Canes fans wanted to see checked off going into 2020. By seeing so many fresh faces on campus, there is no telling how long it will take for every piece (coaches and players alike) to gel. It may be instantaneous, or it may take a year. The fact is, Manny Diaz has been working tirelessly to right the ship, and not everything that went wrong in 2019 was on him...he inherited an all around mess. His actions alone grant him life after 2020 because you simply cannot dismiss someone after one year of so much turnover. The situation must be allowed to play out, and it will.

Poll

Do you think an 8 win 2020, guarantees a Manny Diaz return in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Yes
    (206 votes)
  • 22%
    Yes, as long as he wins the Coastal
    (70 votes)
  • 12%
    No
    (40 votes)
316 votes total Vote Now