Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz has to know this extended off week is the biggest of his career. Forget the game prep before BYU and Taysom Hill back at Texas. Forget the FIU debacle or UNC loss in ‘19 and ‘20. Coach Diaz is now fighting for his job and this off week will be telling as to whether he will remain at Miami, and potentially ever be a Power 5 head coach again.
When Miami coaches are fired, they don’t go on to greener pastures. Larry Coker was given the keys to the UTSA Roadrunners start up program and finished 26-32. Randy Shannon has never been a head coach again at any level. Al Golden is currently an NFL linebackers coach. Mark Richt works for the ACC Network, although he technically wasn’t fired.
So what will be Manny Diaz’s legacy at Miami? Will it be another post off week loss and an 0-3 record against Mack Brown and UNC? Or will it be a guy that refocused his squad and came out with a nice win over a struggling Tar Heels program?
Let’s look into Coach Diaz’s post-off week record since arriving in Coral Gables in 2016.
Under Mark Richt, Manny Diaz served as the defensive coordinator at The U. In 2016, the ‘Canes had their off week in mid-September and Miami knocked off Georgia Tech and the triple option by the tune of 35-21. When GT ran the triple an off week before their offense was extremely beneficial to DC’s because of the rarity of the flexbone at the FBS level.
Richt suffered through a four game losing streak, but bounced back at the end of the season to give fans some promise of what was to come. Miami also won the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2016. The ‘Canes faced off against Dana Holgorsen’s West Virginia squad and won 31-14, Miami’s last bowl win. As you’re aware, bowl games typically don’t just have time off, but also the holidays and final exams for players to contend with.
In 2017, the Miami versus Arkansas State game was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. That gave Miami two weeks off before facing Toledo at home. Richt’s ‘Canes pounded the Rockets 52-30. After losing to Pitt on the road and Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, it was bowl season. The Hurricanes played in the Capitol One Orange Bowl and lost to the Wisconsin Badgers 32-24 after nearly four weeks off.
In 2018, Miami had their second four game losing streak (2016), this time losing after the off week to unranked Boston College 27-14. After four weeks off Miami lost to the Wisconsin Badgers in a 35-3 blowout in the Pinstripe Bowl. This would be Coach Richt’s last game at Miami while Diaz had one foot at Temple and one still left in Coral Gables.
The Diaz Era
Manny Diaz came back to Miami, from Temple, to be the ‘Canes head football coach for the 2019 season. Miami immediately began the off week blues under Diaz. The Hurricanes had three off weeks plus a late December bowl game and lost on all four opportunities. This was the first transfer portal hype season as well as the “Where’s Dan?!” alleged poaching of Dan Enos from Nick Saban to be Miami’s OC.
Dan Enos out here with a soggy ass play sheet in the rain pic.twitter.com/PRTtceYYLA— Brenda's Son (@KelvinMcmiller) December 1, 2019
Miami lost to Florida to start the ‘19 season, before having an off week and losing to UNC 28-25. After a clunker against Central Michigan, Miami had an off week before facing mini-rival Virginia Tech. Miami then lost to the Hokies 42-35.
Miami’s next off week came after opening up the offense and dominating Louisville 52-27. This was the smoke and mirrors game from Dan Enos that made fans wonder if he would finally open up the offense. He in fact would not. Then Diaz completely destroyed the program by losing to FIU 30-24. After four weeks off for the Walk On’s Independence Bowl, Miami lost to Louisiana Tech 14-0.
In 2020, Diaz hit the transfer portal hard once again, changed his offensive staff, and did a great job of navigating COVID-19. Miami wound up with four off weeks and a nearly three week long break before the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State. Miami came out of the first off week and lost to Clemson 41-17. Miami’s second and third off weeks saw a close win over NC State, and a blowout win over Duke.
Miami saw the Georgia Tech makeup date canceled before the Cheez-It Bowl, giving Miami almost three weeks off. Miami lost to the Cowboys 37-34 in a game that saw both sides hold players out and D’Eriq King tear his ACL.
Miami’s lone off week of ‘21 is coming off a Thursday night loss to the Virginia Cavaliers. Miami lost on a late field goal opportunity that thunked off the goal post as time expired. The 2-3 Hurricanes have an extended time off because of the Thursday night game. That gives Manny Diaz 15 (edit) days to prepare for the UNC Tar Heels. UNC has also been a major let down in ‘21, and will host Miami with after facing a bad Florida State program that upset UNC a year ago.
Coach Diaz is 0-2 against his old mentor Mack Brown. Brown fired Diaz as defensive coordinator at Texas after the record setting loss to BYU and Taysom Hill, and then put the big hurt on Diaz in ‘20 with a record setting loss for Miami at home on senior day. If Diaz continues to struggle coming off of an off week, this could be his last game as the head coach at Miami.
As just the defensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes, Diaz finished 3-3 coming off of an off week or in a bowl game. As head coach of The U, Diaz is 2-6 in these situations. Miami fans have to hope they’ll see more of the 2020 post off week success, instead of the 2019 disasters after off weeks.
This is the true test of whether or not Diaz will be back for the 2022 season. If Miami comes off of the UVA loss and loses to a bad UNC team, Diaz is done. He could even be done before Monday morning. If Diaz beats UNC, he will continue to battle for his job every week through the ACC Championship Game.