In a year that sucked in terms of local sports, Sunday offered hope.
The Dolphins stink. The Heat is mediocre. The Marlins, same as always. And even the Miami Hurricanes have offered nothing.
But then Mark Richt abruptly retired after an abject bowl loss to Wisconsin (which is in the Midwest, in case you didn't know) — and a phone call brought turnover-chain creator Manny Diaz, who had agreed to leave for Temple University, back to the U. Diaz offers optimism following a season of desultory despair. He offers the city not only his own creative genius but that of his father, a former Miami mayor who brought smart planning to Dinner Key.
Despite a few wins and some success finishing the dark period of probation that plagued the Canes in recent years, Richt couldn't deliver consistent Ws to Coral Gables.
Diaz, a graduate of Miami Country Day School, is only 44 years old. He grew up in Miami. He played football, basketball, and baseball and was honorable mention all-county. He has three kids and lives in Palmetto Bay. He is handsome, smart, and as defensive coordinator, he brought his squad together.
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“Miami is home. The University of Miami is home. The U has truly been ‘the job’ for me since I first got into coaching,” Diaz said. “Having worked here over the past three years, I came to understand what it means to be part of ‘The U’ and came to appreciate the passion and commitment to excellence of all who proudly call themselves Canes. We will restore the football program to its place among the nation’s elite and we will do it with hard work, dedicated coaches, and outstanding student-athletes."
Added UM director of athletics Blake James: "Manny is one of the nation's elite coaches and the Canes' Family has already embraced him and his incredible work ethic over the past three years. He is absolutely the passionate and innovative leader that our program needs."
Those are some promises, but hell, his background is promising. Diaz has coached at six colleges and in 18 bowl games, amassing a 13-5 bowl record. In 2017, his defense ranked first nationally in team sacks, third in tackles for loss, and ninth in opponent yards per play. Five Hurricanes on the defensive side of the ball earned all-ACC honors.
Diaz started his coaching career at Florida State in 1998 and was part of the Seminoles’ national championship squad in 1999.