A wild Sunday straight out of a day time soap opera script took place in real life for the Miami Hurricanes football program. First, their coach of the last three years, Mark Richt abruptly retired Sunday. Or, resigned. Or, was forced out. Or, whatever the truth is there.
Then, Canes athletic director Blake James swung into motion and put a phone call in to the former Miami defensive coordinator and new Temple head coach, Manny Diaz. And in a matter of hours, Diaz had un-taken the Temple job and come back to Miami to be their head coach.
Diaz commented publicly for the first time Monday morning on WQAM sports radio in Miami with host Joe Rose:
Listen live: https://t.co/xk6Vk5voTR
— The Joe Rose Show (@JoeRoseShow) December 31, 2018
Diaz told the show:
“….it’s been wild. There’s no other way to explain it. It’s something that when everybody woke up yesterday morning, no one could have predicted. They don’t write scripts for these things, if they did, they would get thrown in the trash, because no one would believe it.”
Diaz, who was hired as defensive coordinator in 2016, further told the show that it was sometime midday yesterday his wife actually informed him of the Richt retirement, because she had gotten the information from other coaches wives at the University of Miami.
There was also the awkward part of having to inform Temple that he was going to renege on their agreement to come be their head coach. And, that also comes with a $4 million buyout price tag, which Miami will be paying.
Our Matt Zemek wrote further on Sunday night that coaches changing their mind is actually fairly common, especially when a job where they just were is still open.
Diaz said later in the interview that he had never gone back to Philadelphia after Miami’s Bowl loss on Thursday afternoon to Wisconsin. Rather, he returned on the team plane to Miami and had been in the process this weekend of hiring staff members for the Temple job.
Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reported Sunday night that Diaz was actually talking to a significant possible member of his staff when the news broke:
To show just how much of a whirlwind this all was with Miami: Today Manny Diaz was interviewing an OC candidate for Temple when this all started to move.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 31, 2018
Diaz concluded the interview by complimenting work Richt had done over the past three seasons, including getting the team ranked #3 in the College Football Playoff rankings late last season, securing the Canes indoor practice facility that’s under construction and putting the foundation for the future.
There is no update yet, on what, if any, buyout Miami gave Richt or length of the deal and what Diaz’s salary will be with the Hurricanes.
Canes OC Enos knows RBs must step up in 2019
The University of Miami created a buzz in the social media world last week after naming Jarren Williams the starting quarterback for the season. Williams will now work with new offensive coordinator Dan Enos to try and resurrect an offense that looked dead at the end of last season.
Enos was credited for a lot of the successes of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa last season and will look for some of the same success with Williams.
Though, the Miami offense will need the running backs to step up in a big way this season. The sayings with all young Quarterbacks are: to limit turnovers, keep it simple, and develop a run game. While these will be essential for the Canes and Williams this year, the run game will be important for more than that.
When Enos got the Central Michigan program rolling the way he wanted, he had a dangerous rushing attack to complement his passing attack that has Miami fans so excited. In the 2012 season, Enos had his running back Zurlon Tipton rush for 1,497 yards and his QB Ryan Radcliff throw for over 3,000 years. The offense was so well balanced they had an average of 31.8 passes a game and 31.9 rushes a game.
At Arkansas, Enos had both Brandon and Austin Allen throw for over 3,000 yards respectively, and both had a running back run for over a thousand yards. At Arkansas, Enos also had multiple running backs carrying the ball for him utilizing the stable he had.
Travis Homer, the leading rusher for Miami last season, is gone, but the Hurricanes have a good group of backs coming into the season. DeeJay Dallas averaged 5.7 yards a carry last season with 617 yards and 109 attempts. Sophomore Lorenzo Lingard will look to have a breakout season. He only had 17 touches in 2018, but he was a high praised recruit coming into the program.
The Canes will need both guys to step up, so they can set up the strongest part of Enos’ offense, which is the ability to open up the offense downfield.
Last season, Miami’s yards per attempt was 5.9 and ranked 119th in the country. Enos’ 2015 Arkansas offense averaged nine yards per attempt, which ranked ninth in all of college football. The 2016 offense averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, which ranked 21st in the country, and in 2014 when he was at Central Michigan, his offense ranked 18th in the country, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.
All his previous teams had an impact on the ground, resulting in these substantial downfield numbers. For Miami in 2019, the running backs will need to create some hurricane-like winds to disrupt the defenses and get the strong-arm Williams rolling.
Enos has been able to adapt his offenses in every spot he has been in his career. It will be exciting to see just how he can do so with these Hurricanes.
Zemek- Diaz and Mullen ready for intimate chess match
Some coaching clashes are compelling because of how different the two men are. Some coaching confrontations are enhanced by the level of mystery in the encounter. Some coaching matchups are fascinating. because the two men know each other well.
Saturday’s college football season opener between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes fits into that third category. Dan Mullen and Manny Diaz know each other well.
How many times in the history of college football has this EXACT set of details below pertained to a season-opening coaching clash?
— The two programs involved in the game have won national titles in the past 20 years
— Both head coaches were previously coordinators at the schools they currently lead as head coaches
— Both head coaches served under SEC champion head coaches (Urban Meyer and Mark Richt)
— Both men were part of coaching staffs which participated in New Year’s Six or BCS bowls
— Both men had coached in the Orange Bowl in the past five years
— One of the two coaches not only worked for the other coach, but in two separate stints
— The two separate stints lasted exactly one year apiece
Yes, this is an uncommonly intimate coaching matchup.
Manny Diaz was Dan Mullen’s defensive coordinator — not once, but twice.
Mullen took over the Mississippi State program before the 2009 season. He invited Diaz to be his defensive coordinator for the 2010 season. Diaz then jumped at the opportunity to go to Texas and work for Mack Brown after Will Muschamp grew impatient with Brown (as the coach-in-waiting) and bolted for… Florida, where Mullen had worked from 2005-2008 under Meyer as offensive coordinator.
Diaz spent three years in Austin as the Longhorns flamed out and Brown lost hold of the program. (Brown has resurfaced this year as a rival for… yep.. Miami in the ACC Coastal Division with North Carolina.) Humbled and knocked down a peg in the coaching hierarchy, Diaz then spent the 2014 season at Louisiana Tech. It was Mullen who gave Diaz a lift before the 2015 season, enabling Diaz to once again coach not only at Mississippi State, but more generally in a Power Five conference.
Diaz — in a move mirroring his jump to an established veteran coach in 2011 — once again latched onto a big-name program led by a high-profile sideline sultan. He joined Mark Richt in Miami for the 2016 season. He once again spent three seasons as the coordinator for that program.
Unlike the Texas tour from 2011 through 2013, Diaz’s star clearly rose in Miami. The turnover-chain defense of 2017 was the reason Richt won the ACC Coastal and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Diaz’s reputation grew in Coral Gables. The disastrous 2018 season for The U had nothing to do with the defense, which held up its end of the bargain. Richt’s offense and his inability to develop Miami’s quarterbacks led the car to swerve off the road and into a deep ditch.
Diaz saw the sinking ship and wanted to begin his career as a head coach. The Temple job has been a short-term catapult for various coaches in recent years. Matt Rhule used it to go to Baylor. Geoff Collins — who once coached at Florida as an assistant — used it to go to Georgia Tech. A man named Al Golden — Canes fans want to forget him — used Temple as a stepping stone for the Miami job. Diaz sensed opportunity and went to Philly.
We all know what happened next. Richt retired. Diaz changed his mind. Here we are.
Diaz gets to match wits with Mullen. Manny not only has the advantage of knowing how Mullen thinks; he has been able to see how Mullen has evolved.
It is a very unique and particular dynamic: A coordinator got to see how a boss (his head coach) thinks in two separate occasions five years removed from each other. Diaz’s introductory course on “Mullenology” was in 2010 at Mississippi State. Diaz received the graduate course in 2015. (He didn’t have to pay tuition, either. He got paid for the course!) Now the two men meet in 2019, eager to see how their ideas have continued to develop.
The obvious yet extra-sexy aspect of this intimate coaching matchup: Mullen is an offense-first coach, Diaz a defense-first coach. If the two men both coached the same side of the ball, the battle of brains wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. It is PRECISELY because they occupy different sides of the ball that Diaz-Mullen and Canes-Gators are so loaded with intrigue.
At the beginning of this decade, they were introduced to each other.
In the middle of this decade, they reconnected with each other, again on the same coaching staff.
At the end of the 2010s, Dan Mullen and Manny Diaz will stand on opposite sidelines in a Week 1 cauldron of pressure.
The college football world will be primarily interested in seeing how both men have evolved in their own ways and on their own terms. Yet, the context surrounding Gators-Canes is incomplete if the relationship between Mullen and Diaz isn’t included.
How they evolve in their understanding of each other — not just their own autonomous selves — will have a lot to do with the outcome of Florida versus Miami.