Less than three weeks after Manny Diaz left his job as Miami’s defensive coordinator to become the head coach at Temple, the Hurricanes late Sunday night named Diaz their new head coach, ending a whirlwind day in Coral Gables, Fla.
The day began with Miami head coach Mark Richt announcing his retirement, three days after his team finished a 7-6 season with a 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The stunning news of Diaz’s return came after he reportedly met with school officials earlier Sunday. According to multiple reports, Diaz’s 17-day tenure at Temple will net the Owls $4 million — the size of the buyout in Diaz’s Temple contract.
“Manny is one of the nation’s elite coaches and the Canes’ Family has already embraced him and his incredible work ethic over the past three years,” Miami athletic director Blake James said in a statement issued by the university late Sunday. “He is absolutely the passionate and innovative leader that our program needs, and we will work together to build an incredible staff to move our program back into championship contention.”
According to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, “UM officials know they’d be getting a top defense and strong local ties,” when addressing the school’s willingness to pay Diaz’s buyout.
“Miami is home. The University of Miami is home. The U has truly been ‘the job’ for me since I first got into coaching,” Diaz said in the same statement. “Having worked here over the past three years, I came to understand what it means to be part of ‘The U’ and came to appreciate the passion and commitment to excellence of all who proudly call themselves Canes. We will restore the football program to its place among the nation’s elite and we will do it with hard work, dedicated coaches, and outstanding student-athletes. I’m excited about working with Blake and his team to make that happen.”
Diaz, 44, has drawn raves for his work with the Hurricanes’ defense over the past three seasons.
Diaz’s Miami defense is rated second nationally in total defense (268.3 yards allowed per game) this season and 15th in scoring defense at 18.2 points per game.
But earlier in the day, the story was all about Richt, 58.
“A few hours ago, I informed UM Director of Athletics Blake James that it is time for me to retire from coaching so I am stepping down as the Head Coach of UM Football. The decision came after a great deal of thought, discussions with my family, and prayer. This was my decision,” Richt wrote.
Richt compiled a 26-13 record in three seasons at Miami, highlighted by a 10-win season in 2017 and a trip to the Orange Bowl.
James emphasized that he didn’t ask Richt to step down, and said he was surprised at his decision to step down.
“The decision for Mark to retire is his and his alone,” James said at a press conference. “While my tweet after our bowl game noted our performance was unacceptable, I also tweeted that Mark and I were committed to fixing it and that those discussions had already begun. At no time did I or anyone at Miami ask for or suggest that Mark step down.”
Before taking over at his alma mater, Richt coached at Georgia from 2001-15. His Bulldogs teams were 145-51, including 9-5 in bowl games.
The Hurricanes had a roller-coaster season in 2018. They began the year ranked No. 8, but lost the opener to LSU. Miami won its next five games, only to lose four straight and fall out of the top 25. The Hurricanes were 4-4 in ACC play.
–Field Level Media