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Miami Faces Same Questions Under Manny Diaz

By Dave Holcomb
SouthernPigskin.com
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Miami still possesses the same problems with Diaz that the program did under former coach Mark Richt. That’s an anemic offense.

Miami Hurricanes head football coach Manny Diaz is only the son of a former politician. Yet, he still personifies the negatives aspects of politics.

As an assistant coach for two decades, Diaz has developed a reputation of disloyalty. Since rising to defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State in 2008, Diaz has never stayed on a staff for longer than three years, and on three occasions, he left after one season.

Incredibly, Diaz served as Mississippi State defensive coordinator twice, and each stint lasted just one season. The man is never content where he is and appears to possess little regard for integrity.

The 2018 season marked the end of his third season as defensive coordinator at Miami. That’s far too long in one position for Diaz, so he packed up and left, taking his first head coaching position at Temple. At least this time, he was actually leaving for a promotion -- not a lateral position, which he has done numerous times this decade.

The only problem, though, is Diaz’s stint as Temple head coach lasted 18 days. Somewhere, that’s got to be a record. Was he even in Philadelphia long enough to sign a lease and pay rent?

He was there long enough to sign one thing -- his first recruiting class. Now, those high school signees are locked into playing at Temple for an unknown head coach while Diaz skips town to return to Miami. He doesn’t have to apply for a waiver to coach immediately either.

Diaz was also at Temple long enough to hire a couple assistant coaches, who now also face an uncertain future with the Owls.

That will all be a minor footnote, though, as the Hurricanes hired the coach they wanted. In just a week, he’s supposedly recreated the excitement and energy that surrounded this program when it won its first ACC Coastal division title last fall.

But let’s not let this become a footnote -- Miami still possesses the same problems with Diaz that the program did under former coach Mark Richt. That’s an anemic offense.

With about 358 yards per game, the Hurricanes finished second-to-last in the ACC in total offense. Around the country, that was bad enough for 105th out of 130 FBS teams.

Making matters worse, the Miami offense didn’t take care of the ball during 2018 either. The Hurricanes had 26 giveaways, which was the highest mark in the ACC and tied for the seventh-worst total in the nation.

Diaz handed out the turnover chain 25 times during the 2018 season. That was tied for the third-most takeaways in the ACC, and it didn’t matter much because Miami still owned a minus-1 turnover differential.

Miami’s passing game was the biggest problem. Senior incumbent Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry split time behind center, and neither passed for much more than 1,000 yards. As a team, the Hurricanes posted 2,175 passing yards, which was ranked 108th in the FBS.

The only ACC teams with fewer passing yards this season than Miami were Pitt and Georgia Tech, and remember, the Yellow Jackets run the option, so they attempted less than half as many passes as the Hurricanes.

From a yards per pass standpoint, Miami ranked dead last in the conference with a 6.1 average. Nationally, that was tied for 116th.

While hiring Diaz does do some great things -- he’s mostly going to help keep elite defensive talent from transferring -- his promotion does nothing to fix the offense. And that’s the big issues for the Hurricanes. Miami was second in the ACC in both yards allowed and scoring defense. They also finished third in sacks and takeaways.

But with such little offense, the Hurricanes limped to a 7-6 mark and embarrassed themselves with a 38-3 loss in the Pinstripe Bowl. To be fair to Diaz, he didn’t coach in that game, but again, he wouldn’t have helped the offense move the ball. Miami only recorded 169 total yards in the loss.

The first act as head coach of the Hurricanes for Diaz was firing his entire offensive coaching staff along with strength and conditioning coach Gus Felder. Admittedly, that was probably a step in the right direction.

Diaz has said little else about his plans for his offensive staff other than he wants it to be “cutting edge” and have an offense that “creates problems for the defense.” According to ESPN, Diaz also says he has three finalists for offensive coordinator and that he will make the hire when the time is right.

Of course, three years ago, Diaz said the defensive coordinator position at Mississippi State was the last defensive coordinator job he ever wanted to take. After one season, he left for the Hurricanes defensive coordinator position.

Who can believe this man anymore? Anything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Now, this isn’t to say Diaz will end up being a bad hire. He doesn’t have the head coaching experience Richt did, but keeping Diaz will continue to allow Miami to play well defensively.

But Miami returning to national prominence now depends greatly upon who Diaz hires to be his offensive coordinator, and whether or not that said hire can display more loyalty than his boss and stay in his position for more than a couple recruiting cycles.