The sight — and site — shouted pure Miami: Manny Diaz and his University of Miami coaching staff arriving atop an 88-foot Riva yacht on the Miami River to greet hundreds of Hurricanes football fans waiting at The Wharf.
Call it a splashy entrance.
The yacht, donated to UM for the night by a Hurricane Club member, drew plenty of attention at the New Miami Spring Tour, the first of six such fan-oriented events throughout the state and nation.
“We do things differently than other people do,’’ shouted an entirely amped Diaz to his cheering Canes fans. He looked around at the only-in-Miami setting — trendy outdoor bar, high-end hors d’oeuvres, the sun setting on the water. “Look where we’re at. Look at The Wharf. Who else has this? Who else is here doing this? No one is doing this.
“Everybody else is in some field. Or they’re in some bar in some hotel. Or they’re in a barn somewhere. We’re by the river in the greatest city in the country. Hey, do you like our ride we came in on?”
In between the hollering masses and “C-A-N-E-S!’’ cheers led by UM mascot Sebastian and Hurricanes cheerleaders, Diaz spoke about his dream job and how the Canes are working to win a sixth championship ring and how he hopes the fans come to Traz Powell Stadium on Saturday at noon for the first open scrimmage and at Camping World Stadium in Orlando April 20 for the spring game.
Then, one by one, Diaz introduced his assistant coaches, many of them equally hyped as they chest-bumped each other, Sebastian, and anyone in their paths.
The event signified the first time in several years that fans had the opportunity to help kick off a UM spring tour with the entire coaching staff in their own city. The tour stops includes Diaz, and various others, at each location, including Orlando, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, New York/New Jersey and Chicago.
“For me, what’s special is we get a chance to meet not only the head coach, but his assistants,’’ said Harry Rothwell, a longtime fan, former president of the Hurricane Club and general manager of AllCanes retail shop across the street from the UM campus. “It gives us a chance to know all the coaches and the coaches to know us. They talk about the U family. Having an event like this brings the family together.’’
Jesse Marks, UM’s senior associate athletic director/development, said the spring tour not only is a fundraiser to help support the UM football program, “but we’re celebrating all the great energy that Coach Manny Diaz and his coaching staff are bringing to the program and the city. What a great evening at a great venue to celebrate the New Miami — outside, on the Miami River, with the Magic City skyline as the backdrop.’’
Among the many Hurricanes’ representatives in attendance Wednesday were men’s and women’s basketball coaches Jim Larrañaga and Katie Meier, track and field director Amy Deem and athletic director Blake James.
The next stop on the spring tour is in Orlando on April 20 for a pre-spring-game brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at the CenterState Club at Camping World Stadium. Cost is $50 for Hurricane Club members and $75 for nonmembers and includes a brunch buffet, cash bar and question-and-answer session with Diaz and UM athletic director Blake James.