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Another trip down misery lane: Where does Diaz rank amongst Miami’s recent head coaches?

Let’s revisit Miami’s coaching struggles since Butch Davis left the program in 2001

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami
Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz coaches during Miami’s 30-28 loss to Virginia at Hard Rock Stadium on September 30.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

If you are a long-time reader and follower of this wonderful website, what you are about to read might feel a little bit familiar to you.

The original version of this article was published on September 25, 2019 after the first four games of Manny Diaz’s tenure as head coach of the University of Miami. Things have obviously changed a lot since then.

My original intent in writing it was to provide a baseline for what Diaz should be compared against and to remind people of the issues that Miami has had with its head coaches since Butch Davis took the Cleveland Browns job in January 2001.

While it wasn’t fair to fully compare Diaz to Miami’s previous head coaches when this article originally was published in 2019, it is more than fair now. So I will ask the same question, just over two years later...

Which Hurricane head coach was the worst during his time as Miami’s head coach? Keep that question in mind while you read and make sure you vote in the poll at the bottom of the article.

Manny Diaz

Seasons as Hurricanes’ head coach: 3; 2019-2021

Record as Hurricanes’ head coach: 16-13 (11-7 in ACC)

Best game: Miami’s 52-10 victory over Florida State in September 2020. Everything worked for the Hurricanes on that glorious night. D’Eriq King had the offense clicking on all cylinders and Jaelan Phillips and company led a monster defensive effort that demoralized the visiting Seminoles. There’s nothing like beating your rival by six touchdowns while totally emptying your bench in the second half in doing so.

Worst game: It feels like there are a lot of games to choose from here. I will go with Miami’s 62-26 shellacking at the hands of North Carolina in December 2020 with Miami’s 2019 loss to FIU as a close second. Against UNC, Miami allowed 778 yards of total offense—including 554 rushing yards—in a game the Hurricanes were favored to win by three points.

Why he isn’t Miami’s worst coach since 2001: While Miami lost two embarrassing games to Clemson and North Carolina, the Hurricanes still would have been in position to play for an ACC title in 2020 had the conference not let Notre Dame participate in the league championship game. Many power five coaches don’t even sniff a conference championship game in their careers. Diaz also signed multiple 5-star recruits in the class of 2021 and has done a great job of remaking his roster through the transfer portal and making necessary coaching changes in the offseason.

Why he is Miami’s worst coach since 2001: This is a direct quote from the 2019 article: “Miami has looked unprepared and just flat out bewildered far too many times this season with the amount of talent the Hurricanes have on both sides of the ball.” Has that changed? Like at all? Diaz has turned the Miami Hurricanes into a team that starts slow and plays from behind consistently. The Hurricanes have more talent than many opponents but are consistently out-coached in games. Additionally, losses to FIU, Duke, Louisiana Tech, and being 1-5 in his last six games against power five competition make Diaz a compelling candidate for being the worst coach of the last 20 years.

Mark Richt

Seasons as Hurricanes’ head coach: 3, 2016-2018

Record as Hurricanes’ head coach: 26-13 (16-8 in the ACC)

Best game: Miami’s 41-8 victory over Notre Dame in 2017. The Fighting Irish came in ranked No.3 and were absolutely embarrassed at Hard Rock Stadium thanks to an amazing defensive effort and 237 rushing yards as a team by Miami. College Gameday was on campus at Miami that morning and this win announced Miami’s presence back on the national college football landscape.

Worst game: Miami’s 16-13 loss to Virginia in 2018. This was a tough choice but Virginia was chosen because Miami was 5-1 entering the game fresh off a come-from-behind victory over rival Florida State. The Hurricanes completely stalled on offense that night in Charlottesville and lost to a far less-talented Virginia team. That started a spiral in which Miami lost four straight ACC games.

Why he isn’t Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Richt won 23 of conference games while at Miami, a number only topped by Coker (thanks to his days in the Big East) on this list. He was 2-1 against Florida State and was instrumental in helping Miami to catch up to the rest of the college football world with its indoor practice facility.

Why he is Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Richt’s 2018 season was extremely disappointing. He was the primary play caller for a stagnant offense and his play calling caught the ire of fans and pundits from all over. The offense was too vanilla and Malik Rosier greatly regressed from 2017 to 2018.

Al Golden

Seasons as Hurricanes’ head coach: 5*; 2011-2015 (*was terminated midway through the 2015 season)

Record as Hurricanes’ head coach: 32-25 (17-18 in the ACC)

Best game: Miami’s 2013 victory over Florida. The Hurricanes topped No.12 Florida 21-16 on their way to a 7-0 start in 2013. The win seemed elite at the time but that Gator team lost seven straight games to end the season and finished 4-8.

Worst game: Clemson’s 58-0 shellacking of Miami in 2015. The Tigers were on their way to the College Football Playoff and a National Championship game appearance and lowly Miami was in the way in October 2015. The loss was Miami’s worst in the history of the program and led to Golden being fired and replaced on an interim basis by Larry Scott.

Why he isn’t Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Golden got hired just as NCAA sanctions hit the Miami program from previous Hurricanes’ involvement with rogue booster Nevin Shapiro and accepting impermissible benefits. This set the former Penn State tight end back in his first few years on the job and made it difficult to recruit high school players to Miami during this time.

Why he is Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Golden was 0-5 against Florida State, had an under .500 record in ACC play and definitely had the worst defensive units of anyone on this list during his tenure as head coach. Golden’s refusal to fire friend and Hurricanes defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio was a huge reason for his lack of success at Miami and the main reason Miami was so bad on defense during this time period.

Randy Shannon

Seasons as Hurricanes’ head coach: 4; 2007-2010

Record as Hurricanes’ head coach: 28-22 (16-16 in the ACC)

Best game: Miami’s 38-34 defeat of Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2009. The 2009 Hurricanes were the first team in nine years to open the season with games against four ranked teams and No.18 FSU was the opener. Miami won a back and forth game after getting a defensive stand in the end zone as time expired.

Worst game: Miami’s 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final home game in the Miami Orange Bowl in 2007. After all of the years of the proud tradition of playing college football in the Orange Bowl, Shannon and the Hurricanes closed it out with a stinker as Virginia held Miami to 189 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers in the shutout.

Why he isn’t Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Shannon defeated Florida State twice and won home games against No.16 Texas A&M, No.14 Georgia Tech, and No.8 Oklahoma in his tenure as head coach. He also cleaned up the program off the field as Miami had the third-best academic-progress rate in the NCAA during Shannon’s time as head coach and only had one player arrested in his four years at the helm. This was greatly needed after the Larry Coker era.

Why he is Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Shannon squandered Miami’s top-ranked recruiting class of 2008 by failing to properly develop many of the 32 players (three 5-stars, 13 4-stars and 15 3-stars according to who signed that year. That led to Miami backsliding during the 2010 season and having a lack of depth entering the 2011 season after Shannon was fired.

Larry Coker

Seasons as Hurricanes’ head coach: 6; 2001-2006

Record as Hurricanes’ head coach: 60-15 (20-1 in Big East; 14-10 in ACC)

Best game: The 2001 National Championship game. Coker led the Hurricanes to their fifth national championship with a 37-14 thrashing of Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. The Hurricanes led 34-0 at halftime and held the Cornhuskers and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch nearly 200 yards beneath their season average.

Worst game: The infamous FIU brawl game. Miami beat FIU 35-0 in October 2006 but made national news when it brawled with FIU after a made extra point in the third quarter. The brawl resulted in 13 Hurricane players being suspended and proved to many that Coker had lost control of the players in the program.

Why he isn’t Miami’s worst coach since 2001: Coker is the only coach on this list to win a national championship. He also had a 24-game winning streak to begin his Hurricane tenure and finished inside the top five of the AP Poll in each of his first three seasons at the helm.

Why he is Miami’s worst coach since 2001: If doing less with more irritates you as a fan, Larry Coker drove you up the wall. Once the players Butch Davis recruited began to exit the program, Miami’s success dropped off. According to, Coker signed 13 5-star recruits in the 2001-2005 recruiting classes, yet Miami’s win totals never rose from the previous season under Coker. He was eventually fired after a 7-6 season in 2006.

What’s the verdict?

After reading briefly about Miami’s five coaches since Butch Davis left, what’s the verdict? Who was the worst?

Vote below in the poll and leave your opinion in the comments section to get a good bye week discussion started.


Who is Miami’s worst coach since 2001?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Manny Diaz
    (277 votes)
  • 0%
    Mark Richt
    (1 vote)
  • 44%
    Al Golden
    (303 votes)
  • 8%
    Randy Shannon
    (56 votes)
  • 6%
    Larry Coker
    (42 votes)
679 votes total Vote Now