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Manny Diaz’s opening press conference re-evaluated

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With the Diaz era finally over in Coral Gables, here’s a look at where Manny hit or missed from his opening presser

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Miami v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Manny Diaz has officially been fired as the head football coach of the Miami Hurricanes. Diaz finished 21-15 (16-9 in the ACC) in three years as the head coach of the ‘Canes, including 0-2 in bowl games.

Diaz’s Hurricanes teams appeared in zero ACC Championship Games, lost to unranked teams in two of three seasons, and finished unranked themselves in two of three seasons. Diaz’s teams also appeared in three bowl games, although none very appetizing to a fanbase clamoring to be back in the New Year’s Six or the College Football Playoff.

Manny Diaz was formally announced as the new head coach of the Miami Hurricanes on January 2nd, 2019. Merely weeks after taking the head coach job at Temple, Mark Richt retired, Blake James panicked, and Diaz was hired as the head coach at The U.

The premise of this exercise is to re-visit and re-evaluate Manny Diaz’s introductory press conference as the head coach at Miami. The full video is embedded below. I’m typically paraphrasing unless you see quotation marks. (My 2c is in parenthesis), and I broke the presser into parts, and reviewed the segments in italics.


Manny Diaz takes the podium at 13:08

13:26 Diaz references the 1984 Orange Bowl Classic and Miami’s first National Championship. (I get you have to bring this stuff up, 35 years to the day, but man these guys really try to bank on something they had no part of always irks me)

15:00 References coaches and making “quick adjustments” (He could’ve used these against UNC in 2020)

NCAA Football - Temple vs Bowling Green - October 28, 2006 Photo by Joseph Labolito/Getty Images

15:38 Thanks Temple (As we know, he should’ve stayed there and learned on the job there... just like Al Golden, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins).

16:29 Mentions having “every confidence” in Mark Richt “bouncing back” if he was still the head coach but he’s obviously not.

18:00 Thanks Mark Richt. Says Richt left the program “Better than he found it” and calls him the “Best man I’ve ever worked for” (Can’t argue. I was excited to have Mark Richt as the coach and am always impressed by him as a human)

19:00 “52 weeks ago we were in a New Year’s Day Bowl” (Manny keeps saying the past is in the past but also keeps bringing up the past)

ACC Football Championship - Clemson v Virginia Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

19:36 Mentions Dabo Swinney’s six win season, “It took a reboot at Clemson” (Yeah and he hired Brent Venables, not himself to be DC)

Point: “there is precedent for things changing quickly in the world of college football” (That’s partially true. Urban Meyer did flip OSU from barely above .500 to undefeated in a year. BUT, the talent was already in Columbus and Meyer had a reputation for winning).

Review: Diaz shouldn’t have compared himself to Swinney and sets the tone for winning now by saying things happen fast in college football. Also by bringing up the 2017 season, this is proof that he wanted to win now, versus this being a rebuilding project- which he later claims at some point in his three year run.


19:54 “There has to be accountability” “Hold our players accountable” “We know as coaches that we have to be held by the same account” “What happened this year was not good enough at the University of Miami” when referencing the 2018 season’s 7-6 record.

Review: This staff’s biggest issues have been understanding what accountability is, what it looks like, and the constant rewarding of playing time to players that don’t improve and are known for having poor work ethic. Accountability: and easy word to say, until you blame everyone but yourself. He blamed Dan Enos and Blake Baker, but also he hired them both.


20:15 Hardest things he’s had to do is tell the offensive staff they would not be retained... same thing with Coach Felder in the weight room. (Thomas Brown is currently the Assistant Head Football Coach of the LA Rams, maybe he should’ve stuck around).

12:30 First task is to hire an outstanding staff... take Miami to another level... competing / in the mix for the College Football Playoff every year. (That’s the win now talk, not the we don’t have enough talent yet talk)

Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

12:40 That will start with the offensive coordinator... most important hire. (Dan Enos was in fact a terrible hire, Rhett Lashlee has had his moments but is far from great.)

21:00 Mentions potential that is in the locker room and that can be recruited to Miami (Again, not saying Miami needs more talent, five more classes, etc)

21:25 re OC hire: Not interested in fast, interested in right.. right fit for the program.. (wow- he failed here)

21:50 Style of football... play like the Miami Hurricanes (I have no idea what this means)

22:20 Coaching staffs job schematically to put players in the best spot to succeed (Dan Enos did not, Rhett has really picked up on that in ‘21 over ‘20.)

Review: This all sounds like Enos was going to save the offense, it was the offense’s fault for going 7-6, and there’s enough talent right now to compete for the championship.


22:40 Establish on defense- will be tough, will not be out hit... will not be ‘out toughed’

22:46 Miami is known for great speed... going to play fast. (Maybe in 1986, 1994 or 2001, Miami looks so damn slow on the field under Diaz. McCloud, Quarterman, Harris- it’s a team that plays slow)

22:56 We’re going to have fun (Welp, in The Program: Lessons from Elite Military Units..., they discuss the difference between having fun and making hard work fun... make hard work fun, don’t have fun.)

23:00 Miami fans want to see toughness and passion. One team should look like they’re having “infinitely more fun” (Is this why the staff forces the players to take stupid photos while losing? I don’t see toughness or passion, I see the fun thing though)

23:20 Winning is more fun than the alternative (So you’re saying the ‘Canes aren’t having a lot of fun under Manny Diaz. More fun against Duke than FSU)

Review: Too much talk about having fun and being “tough” or “fast” but not really living up to that accountability thing. You know what is fun? Beating teams into the ground, not letting bad teams like Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech hang in to the final drive.


23:27 Offensive style of play: toughness, start up front, run the football, make the tough catch, tough throw, “and you do it in the toughest games” (Miami under Diaz struggles to run the football, drops a ton of balls that could determine a win or loss, and has lost in embarrassing fashion to FIU, UNC, Louisiana Tech and now FSU)

Appalachian State v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

24:00 Get the quarterback position fixed (King, Van Dyke, Garcia, Martell)... don’t win at Miami with flashes or potential... have to perform (I think he did do this. He brought in Martell to compete, he then brought in D’Eriq King who won him multiple games in 2020. Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia were great signings. Van Dyke looks like a future All-ACC player if the new coach hires a great OC).

24:30 We will have a fantastic offensive coordinator, a great quarterback coach, and a great scheme. (Dan Enos failed in this regard, Lashlee’s 1.9 yards per carry vs. FSU was, uh...)

24:37 “None of that will win without great culture.” We have got to get the culture of the football team united between all three phases” (They’ve clearly failed to create a great culture).

Review: Manny Diaz really failed on the first OC hire, and the culture building. He did succeed at improving the QB position. Van Dyke was Enos’ boy, Garcia was a Lashlee signee. So good job on both OC’s for bringing talent into the QB room.


Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

24:50 Defensively the core is set. One more hire. Trusts and respects Banda, Simpson, Patke, and Rumph to hold Miami to a great standard.

Review: That hire was Blake Baker and hiring Baker has failed both Diaz and Ed Orgeron at LSU. Simpson left and came back, Banda left, Patke was moved to kicking and has failed there, and Rumph was pushed out to recruiting. Even his first defensive staff was putrid.


25:10 New hire in the weight room, stepping into a different program when the players return. Mark Richt’s heart, character, value will all stay the same. (I’ve worked with Gus Felder before, that hire made no sense. David Feeley made some sense, but then has failed too. Miami is getting brutalized on both lines, the linebackers are weak, the backs can’t cut, and Miami is constantly plagued by injuries).

25:38 Tactics in how we will achieve success will be different... things are different now... everyone in this building has to own 7-6, starting with me. (Who owned 6-7?)

Miami v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

26:08 re 7-6 record in 2018: Our responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that never happens again... does not want a tone set where ‘certain guys’ think they have status. “Everyone returns after winter break with no status.” (Diaz’s #1 complaint from many has been the seniority system he’s set in place, and players having a certain status)

26:50 Recruiting identity, how well we recruit Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. (He pulled two five-star players and has talent on the roster)

28:10 Humbled, honored (Didn’t look humbled on the yacht, tackling the dummy, or re the kegger he threw; nor this stupid rocking the bus, or slip n’ slide stuff)

28:20 Mentions that a press conference is forced and says 240 days from now no one will remember what’s said (he has no idea how petty some of us are)

Review: The S&C, accountability, and seniority have been the same ol’ crap since day 1. I think he did a fine job of signing the 2021 class, and his work in the transfer portal heading into 2021 was great. He tanked the portal in 2019.)


Q&A begins at the 29 minute mark

Q: What makes you feel you’re ready to make the step from coordinator to head coach?

29:46 A: Preparation throughout career. Need a great staff, great leadership. (This is where Manny messed up. Only Enos was a former head coach at the FBS level. He needed to hire an older veteran with tons of experience or a former head coach at the FBS level to run kicking or be the DC, not his G5 buddy).

30:30 Q: Disconnect between offense and defense / culture / clean slate / how do you fix issues between offensive and defensive player issues in 2018

A: Not ‘fix’ it’s ‘do.’ Hire great staff, set parameters, set standards. Defensively back to 2016- “raise incredibly high standards.” High standard in terms of work ethic, toughness, accountability. Lean back on how talented we are. (A lot of talk about standards, toughness, accountability which is laughable by December of 2021)

We’re gonna run to the football and we’re going to tackle. Play tough and violent. (One of the worst “finish” teams I’ve seen in years. Can’t pursue, can’t tackle, soft under pressure)

“We will not talk about last year and what happened” (A lot of talk about the past, then talk about not living in the past... also he then proceeds to tackle the 7-6 dummy).

Review: He’s obviously better in a prepared speech than a Q&A. He goes off the rails at times, tries to just repeat what he said earlier, and it gets sloppy.


32:40 Q: Spread offense, more of a spread attack.

A: Manny says the word spread has been “so spread out” and how he doesn’t “know what spread means anymore” The word he wants to be is: cutting edge, modern, offense that creates problems for the defense, puts defense in conflict. (re Dan Enos?!)

Mentions being sound enough on defense not to give up big plays... (woof)

What can we do as coaches, demand great execution (yeeesh)

Review: He really failed with that Enos hire, and even now Lashlee. Lashlee’s offense is a dinosaur compared to modern teams like Ole Miss. Lashlee is at least in the 2010’s vs. the early 2000’s.


34:40 Q: Patience or go at it right now?

A: Our most important job is to find out how good we can be in 2019... more “high standard” talk

35:27 As a fan of the program in the stands you watch them play and say these guys are giving everything they’ve got (I’ll admit at least the players are fighting for four quarters in year three. We didn’t see that in years 1-2.)

Miami v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

37:30 Player accountability, re. return of Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman, will lead to success. Pinckney and Quarterman were setting the tone in the weight room. (Pinckney was always out of football game shape and never struck me as an accountability guy)

41:00 Q: Something about ‘are you closer to the 2017 stretch of wins or 2018 stretch of crap fest.’

A: Closer to 2017... not that far off... players believe we’re not that far off... sometimes it just takes a reboot... define who we are going forward... style of play... offensive coordinator... player’s choice by how they choose to work... be accountable to each other... (he completely failed at all of these things)

Review: Diaz missed on his OC hire, and his locker room leaders re Pinckney.


42:28 Q: Have you had time to talk to the offensive players

A: He’s now their head coach... what they saw culturally on defense should spread to entire locker room (gulp)... has spoken to Deejay Dallas, Brevin Jordan and quarterbacks. Sent a message out to players with his number. (The DC didn’t have everyone’s number?! So if a player moved from TE to DL he would’ve had to ask the dude for his number?)

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

43:30 Q: You came up with turnover chain on defense, do you have anything for the offense?

A: “If it helps us score points who knows what we’ll have.” Whatever it takes for guys to play with passion, have fun, celebrate accomplishments... energy... spark... (THE RINGS)

~44 Q: N’Kosi Perry, suspensions, etc.

A: Diaz preaches discipline, accountability; but clean slate... in this town you need thick skin... used to be QB U... “how you do anything is how you do everything” (not that friggin cliche! I don’t steam my shirts with the same oomph I teach my class)

Review: Drops a cliche, foreshadows the stupid touchdown rings, and I can’t believe the DC didn’t have everyone’s number in his phone. Most important aspect of culture is knowing regardless of how many years it’s been, or what side of the ball you’re on, you have to be there to mentor and check up on players.


The wrap

Looking back on the introductory press conference of a fired head coach will always make you shake your head. Most head coaches say the same one-liners and cliches that the podcast The Solid Verbal makes fun of every off-season: a new attacking style of defense, a strength coach that’s working the guys harder than ever before, etc.

What you can see is that Manny Diaz really failed in the Human Resources category regarding putting his staff together. He banked on his defensive scheme working, and bringing in Blake Baker instead of outside ideas. Offensively, he tanked the OC hire and had to completely gut that staff after year one. His defensive staff was gutted after year two.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 LSU at Vanderbilt Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the end, a head coach will be defined by wins and losses, and that definition will come from who he or she hires as assistant coaches and QB play. Nick Saban looked his best with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian at OC and Mack Jones at QB. Ed Orgeron had Joe Brady and Joe Burrow. Urban Meyer with Dan Mullen and Tim Tebow.

Diaz hired friends to coach the defense, and failed to make a strong hire for the offense. After two complete “reboots,” as he said so many times in his presser, Diaz failed to put together an ACC Coastal-winning program in Coral Gables. I wish him good luck in his future endeavors.