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Can the ‘Canes Build Off of 2020’s Foundation?

Another solid offseason is in the works for Diaz & Co., what will the results be?

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Miami Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

2020, a year frustrating and terrible for many, offered the ‘Canes a new opportunity. Head coach Manny Diaz changed the culture, Miami finally had a standout starting quarterback and a reliable special teams unit. In hindsight, the Hurricanes took strides forward, despite some areas needing vast improvement. While we wanted to see Miami in the ACC Championship Game and a NY6 bowl game, we witnessed the building blocks of the program become more solidified.

It may give people flashbacks (not the good kind), but Randy Shannon shows us a pattern during his tenure. Fans, as well as UM, thought Shannon was a disciplinarian that would bring back the tenacity of Miami’s championship teams. Instead, it was all bark, no bite. The team was undisciplined and often outcoached despite Shannon’s drill-sergeant tone.

Thankfully, Diaz isn’t Shannon and has helped change the culture for the better.

So, what’s the similarity? Wins. Under Shannon, UM improved by 2 wins in each of his first 3 seasons. 5 wins in 2007, 7 in 2008, and 9 in 2009. Shannon is more alike former head coach Al Golden in that sense, who also reached 9 wins in his 3rd year as head coach. Coincidentally, both suffered disappointing 4th years, eventually leading to Shannon’s firing—Golden’s took a bit longer, coming midway through the 2015 season following a 58-0 home loss to Clemson.

Diaz, on the other hand, has a chance to break the tradition of regressing after a more-positive season. Even Mark Richt, his predecessor at Miami, followed the paths of previous coaches, winning 10 games in 2017 and just 7 the year after.

In 2019, Miami went 6-7, including demoralizing losses to FIU and Louisiana Tech—the hype proved to be a mirage. However, Diaz made sweeping changes across the program, it’s no accident that the ‘Canes won 2 more games the following year. If Miami can improve by 2 games yet again, an ACC Championship Game and NY6 bowl appearance should be expected.

With the talent entering and players returning to the program, Diaz has his best setup yet—it’s time to turn it into results on the field.