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New Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz already showing he gets it

Matt Zemek



Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Winning a press conference is hugely overrated, but for what it’s worth, yes, Manny Diaz won his opening presser Thursday, as Miami’s head coach.

This is the central reason Diaz won, rather than lost, this press conference on Wednesday morning:

Diaz knows how to coach defense. He doesn’t know how to coach offense. It is no secret that whenever any head coach with expertise on one side of the ball takes over a program, he has to hire the right coordinator on the opposite side of the ball. Diaz is therefore exactly right in emphasizing the correct hire rather than a swift one.

He knows — as do people who follow the college football industry — that a lot of attractive offensive coordinator candidates are out there:

The Hurricanes should land a very good choice, but it is up to Diaz in the interviewing process to do his homework, ask the right questions, and get the man who is best equipped to teach the art of quarterbacking and unlock the talents of incoming personnel, shaping the vision for what is to come. It’s not just a matter of play selection or style of offense; it’s a matter of player development and being able to thrive in an ACC Coastal which has formidable defensive minds: Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech, North Carolina defensive coordinator Jay Bateman, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall, and Virginia Tech guru Bud Foster.

One of the men under consideration for the Miami offensive coordinator post is former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora. Diaz had to scheme to stop Fedora’s offenses the past few seasons. He needs to ask Fedora a number of questions about “self-scouting,” the necessary art of evaluating how opponents are likely to scheme to stop your own methods and preferred plays. ACC familiarity could make Fedora a great OC hire, but it could just as easily make Miami more of a known entity.

Ultimately, Diaz has to weigh the pros and cons — in other words, take the time to evaluate his OC candidates.

With the signing period for recruits having started before Christmas, there isn’t quite as much pressure on coaching staffs to have everything lined up as soon as humanly possible. A lot of recruiting activity has already run its course, so the difference between landing an offensive coordinator on January 3 or January 13 doesn’t mean what it did even a few years ago. Sure, this search can’t go on forever, but it doesn’t have to happen immediately (before Monday’s national championship game between Clemson and Alabama, for instance).

Diaz is right to value a precise interview process over immediacy. He needs to be right rather than first, a principle journalists always need to remember.

Manny Diaz needs to win games at Miami, not pressers, but winning a presser at least shows than on a conceptual level, Diaz seems to grasp how he must handle his job.

Given Diaz’s decade-plus of experience as an FBS coordinator, you are seeing why the 44-year-old’s first foray into major collegiate head coaching will not involve the amateur-hour mistakes of Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech or Lane Kiffin at Tennessee and USC.

Diaz appears ready for this job. Regardless of whom he hires as offensive coordinator, the quality of the move won’t emerge until September. What is starting right now is more specific: the process of performing detail-oriented work to make sure that September will reveal a transformed product at The U.

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 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: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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