With this week’s hire of Miami Hurricane legend Alonzo Highsmith, I would like to revisit an article I penned back in 2019. The article was titled “Nothing Personal, Strictly Business” and in it I called for change after Manny Diaz’s disastrous Freshman season as the Head Coach of THEE Miami Hurricanes. I offered Diaz (and anyone else that would read it) advice that history will judge to be accurate in hindsight.
Zo joins the Miami Hurricanes for the first time in a professional capacity and is now the General Manager of Football Operations under Mario Cristobal.
Cristobal welcomed him in a Tweet and released the following statement praising Highsmith:
WELCOME HOME BROTHER!!!— Mario Cristobal (@coach_cristobal) May 26, 2022
LET’S ELEVATE THE STANDARD!!!#GoCanes https://t.co/Gnk5cpniWW pic.twitter.com/3chI9DiuJl
“Alonzo is a true Miami Hurricane. He understands the commitment and sacrifice it takes to be a champion on and off the field. His tremendous passion for the University of Miami and this city is unparalleled. Alonzo brings experience as a student-athlete, a first-round NFL draft pick and an NFL executive. He shares our vision for the trajectory and the culture of this football program, and his knowledge and experience will allow him to make a positive and powerful impact on our program and community. I am fired up to welcome home another Miami Hurricane!”
I want to put emphasis on this line “...his knowledge and experience will allow him to make a positive and powerful impact on our program...”
In my lead up to this story, I was discussing this point with several good friends and one of them (@MonstaX from @Footbalville & @Caneville) said about Manny “You can’t be the smartest person in the room and expect good results”.
What he meant was you should surround yourself with smart/qualified people because Iron sharpens Iron. True leaders empower the people around them, and are willing to seek their counsel or to receive their advice to make the best educated decisions. Not everyone is receptive to that. Think about it, how many times have you experienced someone in your professional life not want to share information for fear of being replaced?
In my prior article, I wrote about these points, and why they were important factors in the success, or lack thereof, of the program.
Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban, was quoted as saying this about hiring experienced guys:
“We can get them in our program, maybe they learn a better way to do things. But we also can take advantage of the good things they know and they’ve done.”
THAT, is why I put emphasis on Mario’s comment.
I went on in the article to state the following:
Whether it’s a young coach working his way up the ranks, or a 40 year professional, there is always room to learn. Manny or Blake need to bring in guys that are looking to rehab their careers and can help this staff to close its experience gap.
This is a win-win because it lets those coaches EARN their stripes while helping the program in the process.
The article also provided a list of SOME of the programs that had fired coaches at the time, and I opined that surely there were some coaches that were worth hiring in an advisory role, if not as a coordinator.
Low and behold, Miami went on to hire one of these Gentlemen for an on the field role as Miami’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach... can you spot the name?
Axe Sunday— GlennW (@givemeglenn) December 1, 2019
Steve Addazio - Boston College
Charlie Strong - USF
Frank Wilson - University of Texas San Antonio
2 Asst Coaches - University of South Carolina
Currently 8 FBS openings:
In an article in the Palm Beach Post that was published a year and a half after my story ran, Tom D’Angelo wrote about a well known powerhouse program (Alabama) took that a coach (Charlie Strong) into the fold and did exactly what I had hoped would have been done in Miami. It didn't happen that year, but I tried again the following year after the season.
#StrongToTheU pic.twitter.com/34jgtFXyeX— KappaCane (@KappaCane) December 13, 2020
But alas, like several Miami Head Coaches before him, Manny was too stubborn to make the necessary moves. This could well be attributed to a lack of financial backing, but word on the street was Manny didn't want eyes over his shoulder, none of us do really, but it was what was needed... and encouraged (at least by me).
Manny wasn’t very accepting of advice from key people within the program, even voices like Ed Reed, and he was said to be against the hiring of Highsmith (along with then AD, Blake James) in any capacity that had oversight of the Football Program, and him in particular.
I feel like the Highsmith hiring has brought the points in my article full circle, so I wanted to revisit them with you now. Have a read, and let me know what are your thoughts about my points in the article.
Will Zo make a difference? Let me know in the comments below.