The University of Miami has its new head coach, and he has his dream job.
The university announced late Sunday night that former Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has been hired to replace Mark Richt as the new Miami head coach — about 10 hours after former coach Mark Richt announced his retirement.
Diaz, 44, who grew up in Miami and is the son of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz Sr., is coming home.
“The University of Miami is proud to announce that Manny Diaz, who has deep roots in the Miami community and catapulted the Hurricane’s defense to elite status during his three years as the team’s defensive coordinator, including a No. 2 national ranking in total defense in 2018, will take the helm as head coach of the Hurricanes’ football team, succeeding Mark Richt,’’ the university released in a written statement.
The Miami players were informed Sunday night of Diaz’s hiring by UM athletic director Blake James.
“Miami is home,’’ Diaz said in UM’s news release. “The University of Miami is home. The U has truly been ‘the job’ for me since I first got into coaching. 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, considered one of the nation’s top defensive minds, coached the Hurricanes this past Thursday in the Pinstripe Bowl, then left to become the Temple University head coach. This will be his first head-coaching job, if you don’t count Temple.
He was announced as the Owls’ head coach on Dec. 12.
Now, he’s back.
Diaz is expected to retain his defensive staff, but changes on the offensive staff will surely come. The administration has made clear the offense must be addressed, according to a source. Jon Richt, who is the current quarterbacks coach and Mark Richt’s son, could be one casualty, unless he were to move to another spot on the staff.
“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,” said James in the statement. “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.”
Diaz was seen by the Herald outside the Hecht Athletic Center about an hour before athletic director Blake James held a news conference to discuss Richt’s departure. When asked about the sighting, James said, “Manny Diaz? I don’t have any comment on Manny. I guess Manny is on his own schedule.’’
Current UM players were informed of Richt’s departure through emails and text messages because they are for the most part away from campus during winter break. They announced their relief and joy about Diaz on social media.
Outgoing senior safety Sheldrick Redwine, who, like his teammates on defense, loved playing for Diaz, tweeted late Sunday that he wishes he had one more year left at UM.
“It’s [too] late to redshirt?” Redwine posted on Twitter, accompanied by a photoshopped picture of Diaz wearing the coveted turnover chain he helped create.
Freshman cornerback Al Blades retweeted Temple’s original announcement that Diaz had taken the Owls’ job, and accompanied it with the words “Turnover on the play give em the chain.”
And sophomore receiver Mike Harley tweeted, “Gleeful!!! Got the news.’’
Temple University athletic director Dr. Patrick Kraft posted on social media this statement: “This evening, head football coach Manny Diaz called to inform me that he has accepted the new head coaching position back at the University of Miami. We are disappointed that he is leaving, but wish him the best 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.’’
Although junior running back Travis Homer announced Sunday that he has signed with an agent and will enter the 2019 NFL Draft, thereby forgoing his senior UM season, defensive standouts Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney and end Joe Jackson have not said whether they will leave early.
It’s yet to be seen if Diaz’s return to Coral Gables will help convince them to stay at UM.