By Mary Cunningham
Temple got blown out by Duke in a bowl game last Wednesday.
And yesterday they got blown off and out by their new head coach!
Just over two weeks after leaving Miami to take over at Temple, former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will be returning to the Hurricanes, replacing Mark Richt, who suddenly retired as Miami’s next coach.
Diaz, a Miami native who returned to his hometown college football team as defensive coordinator under Richt in 2016, spent the last three seasons leading that unit. He was named the head coach at Temple on Dec. 13 and signed his first recruiting class with the Owls a couple of days later.
Temple athletic director Patrick Kraft issued a statement expressing his disappointment in Diaz’s sudden decision, while at the same time wishing him well and assuring Owls fans they will bring in the best option for a replacement as quickly as possible.
“This evening, head football coach Manny Diaz called to inform me that he has accepted the head coaching position back at the University of Miami,” Kraft said. “We are disappointed in his decision, but wish him well as he returns home.
“We have already launched a national search for a new head football coach and I am confident that we will bring yet another outstanding head coach to North Broad Street. Our student-athletes deserve excellence and stability and we are searching for the coach who can deliver on both. We are moving forward the only way we know how: Temple tough.”
While the move will be a devastating blow to Temple, many can view the decision to persuade Diaz back to Miami in such quick fashion as a necessity given his work with the Hurricanes defense as well as on the recruiting trail.
Miami disappointed in 2018, but the defensive side of the ball may have been the lone bright spot. Diaz’s unit ranked second in total defense (268.3 yards per game) and first in passing defense (140.8 YPG). The Miami native also was a master at navigating himself around the loaded Florida recruiting trail, and the ramifications of his loss were evident this past early signing period as the Hurricanes heavily disappointed with its 2019 class.
During the 2018 recruiting cycle, Miami finished No. 8 in the composite recruiting rankings according to 247Sports, with 16 of the 23 enrollees hailing from within the state. Earlier this month, the Hurricanes ranked 33rd in the 247Sports Composite Rankings after the early signing period began, and many were quick to point to Diaz’s move to Temple as the reason for the swift downfall.
Now that Diaz — the innovator of the “Turnover Chain” that swept the college football landscape during the 2017 season — will be remaining on the Miami sideline as head coach, the expectation is that he will implement changes to the offensive coaching staff in an effort to improve the output from that side of the ball which vastly hindered the Canes in 2018.
“Miami is home. The University of Miami is home. The U has truly been ‘the job’ for me since I first got into coaching,” said Diaz in a school release. “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 said he “never saw this [opportunity] coming” with Miami, and he woke up Sunday “actively engaged” in his work with Temple football.
Added athletic director Blake James: “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. 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.”