Have 3 wins changed the outlook for the direction of the Miami program? Two wins against ranked ACC opponents feels good, but when did wins like this become celebrated instead of the standard? There is so much to dissect about the direction of the program, but at 5-4 we seem to have more questions than answers. Would an 8-4 finish make fans and administration feel better about bringing back this coaching staff intact?
Winning Cures All
3 weeks ago Miami was 2-4, coming off back to back losses to Virginia and North Carolina. The heat was turned up to high on Head Coach Manny Diaz, Blake James and the entire Miami athletic department. Openly their jobs were brought into question by national and local media. “Cheap”, “poor decisions”, “rushed coaching hires” …all quotes associated with the program. Miami had truly hit rock bottom. Then something happened. Kamren Kinchens made a huge tackle on 4th down, James Williams made a game saving pick, and the defense got a 4th quarter stop for the Canes to win 3 in a row. Winning feels good, but when did the standard become 5-4 with a couple of wins over “ranked” teams. Beating #18 NC St, and #17 Pittsburgh used to be just other games. Games that quite frankly Miami would’ve been mad at for allowing the Panthers and Wolfpack to hang around in. Now I see phrases like “players didn’t quit” and “playing hard for their coach.” Shouldn’t that be a given for a program that Manny Diaz has been a part of for 6 years now? Why has it taken so long for these players to suddenly play hard and not quit? Why did it take an absolute demolition job by Alabama and a 21 point embarrassment at home from Michigan State for things to turn around? Don’t get me wrong, winning feels great, whether it’s 1 or 100, the dub is all that ultimately matters. The problem lies that in 3 years as a head coach Miami is only marginally better than they were in 2019. Only Manny’s most harden supporters would say otherwise.
The Message Should Not Have Changed
The message that Miami needs a serious change should not change just because of 3 very close wins over ACC teams. Miami needs to revamp the football program from top to bottom. The fact that the AD Blake James openly criticized Manny Diaz, Manny Diaz responded in almost surprised fashion, and James and Julio Frenk allegedly had a heated argument let’s you know there is disfunction at the top of the program. It’s been well documented that the Canes have fallen into the abyss of average. From 1980 to 2005, Miami was far from average and the accepting of a 7-5 type football team baffles me. Too many times over the past 15 years we have heard “well they fought hard” or “we are 2 plays from being 7-2” which are just excuses for losing. Somewhere in college football the line between winning and losing has become very blurred. “Moral victories” are celebrated as if they were wins. The playoff committee has sold us with the eye test instead of actual results and fans are eating it up. The bottom line in college football is how many games you win. Coaches that win keep jobs, coaches that lose, lose jobs. When you are paid an average of 3 million dollars a year or higher at the head coaching spot, I find it hard to have sympathy for average to below average coaching. Miami needs real leadership, which demands excellence from its programs. Miami doesn’t have that type of leader. Blake James is nothing more than a name who needs to be shown the door.
Does Manny Deserve Another Year?
Here lies the million dollar question.
My answer continues to be an emphatic NO!
USC kept Clay Helton around about 2 years too long, and ended up firing him 2 games into this season which basically train wrecked 2021. The Trojans are a very similar team to Miami, and bad coaching hires have derailed a dynasty in the mid-2000s. Keeping a coach like Helton, or a coach like Al Golden, when Miami kept him around a year too long completely wrecks the direction of the program. Manny Diaz seems to be that same kind of coach. He’s tried changing offensive coordinators. He’s tried changing defensive coordinators. He’s tried the transfer portal. He’s tried recruiting better. What has changed other than the sales pitch? Is Miami any better today than they were in September 2019 when he took over for Mark Richt? The answer once again is no! Linebacker play is atrocious. It took injuries for the best players in the secondary to finally play, and Tyler Van Dyke’s hot play has covered up more mediocrity.
Manny supporters will tell you we are 2 plays from being 7-2. Manny detractors will say we are 4 plays from being 1-8. My answer is we are exactly who our record says we are, and that is a slightly above average team in the worst power 5 conference in the country. Is this the direction we want to keep spinning towards? Mediocrity? Or is it time for the school to have some balls, and pony up some real money to hire a bonafide AD and head coach? The answer should be an emphatic yes.
If Miami wins out, somehow backs it’s way into the ACC Title game and wins a bowl game, Coach Diaz will have earned another year, but once again here we are in November looking for help to win the worst division in major college football. If Miami loses again, or does not get help to get to Charlotte, then it is time to make sweeping changes throughout the athletic department and get back to winning sports programs.
Something needs to change, and 3 close wins haven't changed any of that.