Early on Sunday, Richt announced his retirement from coaching, but they had their new head coach named before the end of the day. After taking a job as the head coach of Temple, former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was named the 25th head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
With the hiring of Diaz, James and the Hurricanes managed to play it safe and hit a home run at the same time.
The Canes defense over the past three years with Diaz at the helm has improved each season and has allowed 356 yards over those 39 games, but only 278 yards this past season. And that is with an offense that was much less than helpful.
The way Diaz had the defense playing over the past three years isn’t the only reason why he was a smart hire:
1. Star Juniors Will Stay for Senior Seasons
One of the most important things to happen since the announcement of Diaz is junior linebackers Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman deciding to return to Miami for their senior seasons. They may have planned on coming back no matter who the coach was, but Diaz becoming the head coach must have at least played a small factor in their decisions.
Zach McCloud had announced before the hire that he would be returning for his final season, so they return all three of of their starting linebackers and will have the same three starters for the fourth consecutive season.
With losses on the other two levels of the defense, it was extremely important to return these three. Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson were all in their final years, so three starting defensive backs are gone, even if they want to return to play for their former playcaller.
Redwine even tweeted that he was hopeful for a final year in Coral Gables after the hire.
2. Recruits Are Familiar With Diaz
Not long after Diaz being confirmed as the new head coach, one of the top defensive recruits in the country, Tyrique Stevenson, tweeted that he may be excited about the hire.
When Diaz left Miami for the Temple job, there were recruits who were obviously upset with the loss of their potential defensive coordinator and caused some decommitments. But with him coming back to lead the Hurricanes, some of those recruits may see Miami as an great option again.
Khris Bogle tacked on to Stevenson’s thoughts about the hire. With the chance at those two players, along with more recruits, the recruiting class that is currently ranked 33rd by 247Sports could take some big jumps up the list.
3. The Defense Will Remain Lethal
Even though there are some pretty big losses on the defensive side, the defense should continue to be a strength with Diaz at the helm. He won’t be calling the defense, but he should still play a large role with how they play.
If the defense can continue to play like it has over the past three seasons (maybe not as great as this past season, though) they will always be in a position to win games. The defense was plagued with poor play from the offense and special teams, and it hurt them quite a bit in 2018.
In six losses this season, the Hurricanes defense allowed 26.3 points per game compared to just 13.5 points in games they won. But something that definitely played role in the difference was turnovers by the offense. In losses, the Canes’ offense had 17 turnovers and only nine in their wins.
If the worst case scenario for Diaz is that he keeps the defense the same and has an offensive coordinator make the offense just solid, the program is in pretty solid shape.
And he hired a defensive coordinator that is extremely familiar with what he wants from a defense. Blake Baker has been a part of Diaz’s staff at two different schools, with this becoming the third. Baker was a grad assistant under Diaz at Texas when Diaz was the defensive coordinator. He was then hired as a defensive backs coach at Louisiana Tech when Diaz was the DC for the Bulldogs. When Diaz left for Mississippi State, Baker took over as defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech and has been doing that since 2015.
4. He’s the Long-Term Answer
At 44 years old, Diaz could easily coach the Hurricanes for the next two decades. The idea that Miami could have a coach that could lead the program for a long time is something it has been missing.
Experts always say recruits shouldn’t commit to a coach, but to a program and school. If the Canes could basically know they will have the same coach for an extended period, it could only help.
How many national championships would Miami have if coaches stayed for a decade instead of leaving after a few years.
5. The Turnover Chain Returns
The Hurricanes may have been able to use it even after Diaz had left for Temple, but the turnover chain wouldn’t be the same without the man who came up with the idea.
Bringing back the creator of the iconic piece also brings back the legitimacy of it. And with him controlling the whole team, maybe the coolness of the defense will spread throughout all three phases of the game.
There are even talks of a possible turnover-like piece for the offense just to promote more scoring.