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Miami Hurricanes

After leaving for Temple, Manny Diaz returns as Hurricanes head coach

Matt Zemek

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Our story begins with a simple fact of life: Human beings can and will change their minds.

Joe Paterno was going to be the head coach of the New England Patriots in 1973, but after verbally accepting the job, he thought about the matter before putting pen to paper to ink his contract and decided to stay at Penn State.

It doesn’t happen every day, but coaches throughout the decades have occasionally changed their minds in football and basketball.

Bill Belichick was head coach of the New York Jets for one day before moving to the New England Patriots.

Bobby Cremins went to South Carolina basketball, but then decided to go back to Georgia Tech. Dana Altman did the same basic thing, hopping to Arkansas but then thinking about the matter and going back to Creighton. Very recently, Chris Beard accepted the open job at UNLV basketball, but then watched the Texas Tech job come open when Tubby Smith left for Memphis. Beard went to Lubbock.

Other coaches don’t necessarily change their minds, but they leave really good jobs after one year to pursue the job they REALLY wanted. Think of Lane Kiffin going to USC after just one season at Tennessee. Think of Willie Taggart leaving Oregon after just one season to go to Florida State.

When people change their minds, they can — and do, and will — change their minds in ways which go beyond accepting or rejecting jobs.

They also choose to retire. That’s what Mark Richt did.

Let’s be clear: Richt is regarded as one of the stand-up men in college football. Surely, Richt would have told Manny Diaz he was planning to retire if he truly thought he was. Richt’s decision to retire on Sunday came as a change of heart, perhaps in response to demands placed upon him, perhaps due to a reconsideration of the task ahead after the humiliating Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin.

Richt would not have allowed Diaz to leave if he privately knew it was time to call it a career at age 58. He would have allowed Diaz to succeed him and create a seamless transition for the 44-year-old who is a natural fit in Miami as a recruiter and a coach fans can get excited about.

Richt, by all appearances, changed his mind. People inside the program were caught off guard by his Sunday morning decision.

People change their minds. Why couldn’t Diaz change his mind and leave Temple? It is no great sin. It is no sin at all, as a matter of fact. What this and similar episodes reveal — and magnify — about the world of collegiate athletics is that if coaches should have this level of freedom of movement, athletes should have the very same, and nothing less. Coaches shouldn’t be barred from going where their hearts lead them. Neither should players. Rather than insisting on double prohibitions, college sports should focus on double allowances.

And so, Manny Diaz comes home after briefly being Temple’s head coach. For all intents and purposes, he never really left, since he did coach the Canes as defensive coordinator in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The school confirmed the re-hire Sunday night:

Say this much about Diaz: He has paid his dues.

He was a position coach for a number of years, and then in 2006, he began his career as a defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Since then, he has been a defensive coordinator at Mississippi State (in two separate stints), Texas under Mack Brown, and Louisiana Tech, before coming to Miami under Richt. His experience is extensive, and having worked under both Brown and Richt, he has seen how highly accomplished head coaches work. While it is true that he has never coached an FBS game as a head coach before, Diaz is not taking a job at age 34 or 35. Kliff Kingsbury and Lane Kiffin took head coaching jobs at or near those ages, and they failed badly. Those men needed more seasoning. Diaz does not.

For Diaz, the challenge will be to hire a strong offensive coordinator. Diaz knows the defensive side of the ball, but as we so often see in the world of collegiate head coaching, a head coach with expertise in one facet of football often neglects the other side of the ball and sinks his career or his tenure at a school.

Will Muschamp simply can’t develop offensive skill-position talent, and he is in huge trouble at South Carolina — not in terms of losing his job, but in terms of being able to accomplish much of anything with the Gamecocks. Dana Holgorsen knows how to coach offense, but his defenses at West Virginia simply could not solve Oklahoma’s offense in the Big 12, and that’s why his program never turned the corner. California had a defense good enough to win the Pac-12 this season, but the offense was absolutely atrocious under defense-first head coach Justin Wilcox, who — like Diaz — spent many seasons as a defensive coordinator before taking a Power Five head coaching job.

Diaz must overcome this “half a loaf” problem in which his side of the ball does all the work but the offense languishes. That’s what can prevent his Miami head coaching tenure from being a success. He must nail his coordinator hire.

If he has to change his mind, so be it… as long as it ends up well. That is basically the story of Diaz’s unusual but hardly unprecedented path to a head coaching position after many years of waiting for his big chance.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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    David Worthington

    December 31, 2018 at 8:29 am

    What does this say about commitment and being a person of your word? And what of the student athletes who committed to Temple based on Diaz hire and now find they are without a coach and have no alternative. Or Temple’s commitment to Diaz after a lengthy and costly search for a replacement?

    Understand people change their minds but usually does not take weeks to do so. Also understand the pull for home but other ciaches had the same pull and appeared to have resisted.

    Seems as if commitment is out of fashion.

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Miami Hurricanes

Not so fast on QB D’Eriq King coming to Hurricanes?

Florida Football Insiders

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

24 hours later it doesn’t look dead certain that Houston transfer quarterback D’Eriq King will end up at the University of Miami after all.

In fact, it may be several days before we know the coveted grad transfer QB decides to do.

This after a report Sunday out of Houston from Fox 26 Sports director Mark Berman ,who got comments from King about his short term plans and visits:

It is interesting that King is considering Maryland in the mix in addition to powerhouse LSU and possibly trying to revitalize Miami.

As our Jamil King wrote on Sunday it looked like the Houston standout quarterback was “e-ticketed” for Coral Gables and to come as a package deal with newly hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Lashlee, who has previously been at Auburn and the SMU offensive coordinator the last couple of seasons, was hired two weeks ago to help jump start the Canes disastrous offense from the second half of last year.

Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games, but was also inconsistent in his own right. Miami suffered humiliating losses to FIU and at Duke to close the regular season.

Then, the Hurricanes were completely inept in the Independence Bowl, while being shut out 14-0. This, while rumors were swirling everywhere that coach Manny Diaz would be firing his first year offensive coordinator, Dan Enos. Enos, who had been the QB coach at Alabama, was fired the next day.

Back to King, if the Hurricanes are able to land him, they get a player who over his career at the University of Houston threw for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.

King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. He promises to bring some explosives, something the Canes desperately needed, if they can land him.

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Miami Hurricanes

Hurricanes land Houston QB transfer King

Jamil King

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz found out very quickly that the life if a head coach isn’t an easy one. He saw his Miami Hurricane offense move nothing like a “Hurricane” at all.

Instead of fast and lethal, it was often slow and stagnant.

Thus, Diaz had to go in a different direction for his offense replacing his first-year offensive coordinator Dan Enos, and he made what looks to be like a strong hire in Rhett Lashlee, bringing his spread offense over from SMU.

Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games but was also inconsistent in his own right.\

With New OC Lashlee coming in, it was going to be interesting if either Williams or Perry could run the new system or if seldom used 2019 transfer Tate Martell may be the best fit?

All of those questions may be answered for us already with news coming out today on a new Miami quarterback entering the fold. Houston transfer D’Eriq King has decided to play for the Canes in 2020.

King is an immediate upgrade in the QB room for a few different reasons for the Hurricanes in 2020. First, over his career at the University of Houston (above), King has thrown for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.

King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. The young man can flat out play ball, something the Canes desperately needed.

King is also going to be a leader in the locker room and the quarterback room. He is an older guy and will be someone everyone can look up to and listen to another coach on the field. King also brings the most to this offense.

He has the ability to make deep throws to the far side or hit a man in stride. He also brings the running ability to the offense that opens up a Pandora’s box for Lashlee. He can use the QB designed run, an option here and there, and lots of RPOs.

The addition of King is certainly an exciting one, and once again, for the second offseason in a row, there is new optimism on the offense in Coral Gables.

The question is this time will the excitement last longer into the season, and will it produce?

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