When I started drafting this op-ed, there were 578 comments from the GAME THREAD through Cam’s Good, Bad, and Ugly. Here’s a fair sample:
- “This is Al Golden vibes all over again.”
- “When you’re beaten in every phase of the game it’s the coaching staffs fault.”
- “MC needs to stare into a mirror for the next three days asking himself how much he loves Miami. Then, hopefully he will resign and return the money he stole from The U.”
- “Changes need to be made. Now.”
- “No way Manny was that bad. Period.”
- “Cam. It’s time. Someone has to get fired.”
- “Unlike Cam , I do think someone needs to get fired. Gattis, Mirabal, Steele.Mustache man--- All failures.”
I get that there are fans who are angry, but holy crap! Y’all do realize this isn’t 1988 or even 2003, right??? There’s two decades of rotting mediocrity to peel off this program.
Allow me to offer a counter-perspective, beginning with: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?! You’re going to fire a coaching staff before they’ve even had a full recruiting cycle?!?!? For the most part, these aren’t players Mario recruited. He walked into this program and, shocker, a crap ton of them apparently don’t want to play for him when things get tough.
“bUt MaNnY’s KiDs TuRnEd It ArOuNd LaSt YeAr AfTeR a BaD sTaRt” some genius fans will say (I’d insert the Spongebob mocking gif here, but idk if SB Nation has a license to Viacom content).
Well yeah...at one point or another Manny had sat in every one of those kids’ living rooms with their parents and swore up and down that he had their sons’ backs and would see to it that he’d run through a brick wall for them if they’d do the same. Cristobal doesn’t have that relationship with 90% of the team.
You know who Cristobal has that relationship with? Akheem Mesidor, Henry Parrish, and Colbie “the Bright Spot” Young. They aren’t quitting on the program. They didn’t commit any of those 8 turnovers against Duke. I imagine “Mario’s Guys” talk to “Manny’s Guys” like Mark Wahlberg talks to other cops in The Departed: “I’m the guy who does his job, you must be the other guy.”
You know the type of players Cristobal recruits? The type that get punched in the mouth against Georgia and then turn-around and dominate a top 10 UCLA team. Critics can’t have their cake and eat it too - you can’t nay-say “Cristobal’s players” being blown out by Georgia, but not give “Cristobal’s players” some credit when they bounce back and re-establish themselves as the Pac-12 (soon to be Pac-10) favorites.
And timeout for a second to discuss Colbie Young. Here’s a Juco transfer that comes into the program with the physical athleticism that all but like 3 programs in the entire nation would dream of having. But he’s raw. Real raw. You know what coaching staff coached him up and turned him into one of the top 3 receivers in the ACC? This one. This staff turned that raw Juco transfer into a SportsCenter highlight reel. Colbie Young is the reason I’d be bullish on Mario’s staff getting a hold of a slew of four and five star prospects and squeezing more out of them than any coaching staff in two decades.
This isn’t to say that all of Manny’s players are garbage. A few are stepping up, starting with Tyler Van Dyke. The look on TvD’s face after that 2nd quarter sack said it all. I’m talking about the drive after the two fumbles that ended in a sack. TvD is a baller who can play on Sundays, but the man has a patch job of an offensive line with two, maximum three, targets he truly trusts at the moment (we know 1 and 2 are Young and Mallory, and the recently returned George was...meh...in catching screens). Since Middle Tennessee, TvD had been doing his job but now he has to deal with a shoulder or, maybe, elbow injury that will have him out who knows how long. I feel awful for TvD. I hope NFL franchises see how gutsy he’s been, regardless of his college football future.
And there’s other “Manny players” that have stepped up. Mallory has finally come around to his potential. Leonard Taylor III and Tyrique Stevenson are usually on the right side of highlight reels. And the Miami kickers seem to be holding it together. Hedley is a beast who could play on Sundays, and Borregales is meeting expectations.
But that’s the minority. The majority of Manny Diaz players are SHUTTING DOWN when Middle Tennessee or Duke punches them in the mouth. And it’s Cristobal’s job to cut that rot out of the program. I’m confident the film will show no less than a dozen players who essentially shut it down in the fourth quarter, and they should be shown the transfer portal so they can sleep-walk through somebody else’s college football program. Maybe Diaz has room for them at Penn State.
Look...I’m not an Cristobal apologist. Coaches who don’t get the job done deserve to get fired. Manny deserved to be fired. But so many fans aren’t even giving this staff a chance. 3 years. You have to let a staff get some recruiting classes that mature at LEAST into sophomores. You have to stop the revolving door of coaching staffs that result in garbage recruiting classes (2022 was ranked 31 by Rivals; 2019 was ranked 35).
If you won’t take my word for it, take theirs...
Brian ‘the Beast’ London, formerly of the now defunct 790 The Ticket:
“It’s all about the big picture now. Yes, it’s going to take Mario time. Mario has said multiple times this season that they knew they had issues coming here, but when they got a look at underneath the hood of the car it was much worse off than they thought. Now a lot of people...were Tweeting ‘for the money, why didn’t we just keep Manny Diaz?’ Well, listen you brainiacs. Most of those players that didn’t have heart, or didn’t give effort, or didn’t get the job done today, were Manny Diaz’s players.”
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
Mario, now 65-64, tells WQAM: "What we're practicing isn't showing up... consistently." For those complaining about Mario, it's pointless. He's here at least 6 yrs, maybe all 10 if things hopefully go well. He needs time but shouldn't take 4 yrs in free agency, NIL, transfer era— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 22, 2022
Manny Navarro of the Athletic, formerly the Miami Herald:
“I left this game the same way I did the Middle Tennessee St. game in the sense of, there’s something rotten in the core of that locker room...This team is such an emotional wreck and that third quarter was the perfect recipe for how mentally soft they really are...you’re definitely good enough to beat Duke. It’s not a talent issue, you’re just not mentally strong....and by the way, this isn’t a surprise. Mario didn’t introduce this to this team. They were 2-4 to start the season last year....yes, they played hard for Manny Diaz to finish the season 5-1. That was the peak for Manny Diaz. I want to see the peak for Mario Cristobal with his guys.”
AGAIN, I’m not being a Mario Cristobal apologist. This staff deserves its criticism. There are 1st year coaching staffs, INCLUDING DUKE’S, that are performing better. I’m just saying, let’s revisit the ‘fire Cristobal’ and ‘fire Gattis’ talk in 2 years at the soonest and stop cycling through coaching staffs like they’re napkins at a Taco Bell counter.