2018 closes out with a bang for the University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes as Manny Diaz is named the head coach in what has been one of the most eventful 24 hours for the football program.
It began on Sunday afternoon when Mark Ritch informed the university that he was retiring as head coach of the Hurricanes after a humiliating 35-3 loss to the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the New Era Pinstripes Bowl on December 28. Ritch’s decision was a surprise to the school and for a few hours it faced the prospect of completely rebuilding the program, especially on the offensive side where the team fell far short of expectations.
Among the rumored names listed of interest for the position were former Hurricanes coach/Florida International University head coach Butch Davis, former Miami player/University of Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, Florida Atlantic University head coach Lane Kiffin, Washington State University head coach Mike Leach, and former New York Jets/Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan.
Despite those names Miami was focused on Diaz, the defensive coordinator for all of Ritch’s tenure who was on campus despite being named the new coach at Temple University on December 13. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman reported that Diaz started the day interviewing an offensive coordinator candidate for his Temple staff before Ritch’s retirement was announced. The interest was mutual between both parties as they quickly moved towards clearing the path for Diaz to take the Miami job.
The hire makes sense for both sides.
For the school Diaz provides continuity on total defense which was ranked second in the country this season. He also comes in cheaper as his buyout from Temple at $4 million is significantly less than what it would taken to get Cristobal, a fan favorite.
For Diaz it keeps him in the city he grew up in where his father was mayor. He also has built in credibility with the fans and recruits looking at Miami.
There are risks as well. Unlike the other possible candidates Diaz has no actual experience as a head coach. The last time the Hurricanes went that route was with Randy Shannon, another Miami native who was the team’s defensive coordinator, in 2007.