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Manny Diaz Looks to Restore “The U” to Former Glory

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Manny Diaz Looks to Restore “The U” to Former Glory

New Univ. of Miami head football coach is making changes to bring the team back to national prominence.

New Univ. of Miami head football coach is making changes to bring the team back to national prominence.

New Univ. of Miami head football coach is making changes to bring the team back to national prominence.

New Univ. of Miami head football coach is making changes to bring the team back to national prominence.

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The retirement of the University of Miami’s head football coach Mark Richt has brought some drastic changes to the once highly vaunted program that dominated college football decades ago winning national championships in 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2001.

“My true desire is for our football program to return to greatness, and while terribly difficult, I feel that stepping down is in the best interests of the program,”  Richt said upon the shocking news of his retirement on Dec. 30, that put the program in an immediate search of his replacement.

Immediately, plenty of high profile names were bandied about as possible replacements for Richt, but most everyone associated with UM knew who they wanted: Manny Diaz, who had served as Miami’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons.

But, there was just one problem: Diaz had been hired as the Temple University head coach just weeks earlier on Dec. 13. But that did stop Miami from going after its man. Just over 10 hours after Richt announced his retirement, UM released a statement announcing it had hired Diaz as its new head coach. Later, it was revealed that Miami had bought out Diaz’s Temple contract for four million dollars in order to bring Diaz back to Coral Gables.

Diaz did not waste any time in beginning his makeover of the UM football program, making assistant coaching changes and changes to the player recruitment process in hopes of restoring Miami to its former greatness.

A major change in Diaz’s reforms was the firing of the entire offensive coaching staff and strength and conditioning coach Gus Felder. Though UM excelled defensively, rated as one of the top five defenses in the nation, the offense mostly sputtered under Richt.

“My first task is to hire an outstanding staff that’s ready to take Miami to another level, to the point where we are competing and in the mix for the College Football Playoff every year. That will start with the offensive coordinator,”  Diaz announced.

The new offensive coordinator Diaz was referring to is Dan Enos, who was the Alabama assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in 2018. Enos will also serve as the UM quarterback coach.

Stephen Field, who was Oregon’s director of recruiting in 2018 will be working as the new tight ends coach, while Eric Hickson will serve as the new running backs coach, a position he held at Kansas State last season. Taylor Stubblefield, who was the wide receivers coach at the Air Force Academy for the past two seasons, will take over in that same capacity for UM. Butch Barry, who served the last four years as an assistant offensive line coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will take over the Miami offensive line coaching duties.

Blake Baker will take over Diaz’s former role as the UM defensive coordinator. He has been the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Louisiana Tech since 2015 when he succeeded Diaz in that role, learning much of what he knows from Diaz. Baker will also serve as the inside linebackers coach.

The rest of the defensive coaching staff will consist of: Ephraim Banda returning as safeties coach but adding co-defensive coordinator to his duties; former UM quality control analyst Jonathan Patke as outside linebackers coach (who will double as special teams coordinator); former standout Canes player Mike Rumph returning for his fourth season as cornerbacks coach; and defensive line coach Jess Simpson, who retains the title of associate head coach.

UM struggles at quarterback throughout the 2018 season are well-known in South Florida. Malik Rosier, who was named the starter at the beginning of the season never lived up to his promise.  In an attempt to come up with a temporary fix, backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry was given the helm, but he too was largely unimpressive.

To address the need at quarterback, Diaz looked to nab a transfer player, with his most notable target being Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. However, Hurts chose Oklahoma, but Diaz was able to land Ohio State transfer Tate Martell. Unfortunately, it appears Martell will be unavailable to Miami for the 2019 season as the NCAA is not expected to grant his hardship appeal of its rule stating that undergraduate transfers must sit out a season. That being the case, Perry looks to be the front runner to be the Canes’ starting quarterback in 2019.

Other notable players added to the UM roster via the transfer portal include defensive end Trevon Hill (Virginia Tech), safety Bubba Bolden (USC), and defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka (UCLA). They will be joined by top UM 2019 recruits defensive back Christian Williams, quarterback Peyton Matocha, and defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte. UM also picked up Australian kicker, Louis Hedley, filling in another areas of concern for the program.

Diaz has implemented big plans to get Miami back to the caliber of the 2000-2001 team that went undefeated and won the National Championship. Considering the rich history associated with the team, it is no doubt a considerable task to get the program back to its former glory.

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Manny Diaz Looks to Restore “The U” to Former Glory