The University of Miami is losing the architect of one of the nation’s best defenses.
UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has informed the Hurricanes that he intends to take the head coaching job at Temple, a source with direct knowledge told The Miami Herald on Wednesday afternoon.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday night that the deal with Diaz is done, and he’s expected to be introduced in a Thursday 3 p.m. press conference.
Diaz will get an opportunity to be a head coach for the first time after guiding a UM defense that ranked second nationally in yards allowed per game this season.
Diaz did not respond to a text message asking if he’s taking the job. UM also declined to comment.
Diaz was not Temple’s first choice. Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko reportedly declined to take the job and will stay on the Aggies’ staff.
That left Diaz, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, Temple interim coach Ed Foley and former Temple assistant and Baylor assistant head coach Francis Brown as the remaining candidates who have interviewed.
The desire to become a head coach was the factor that appears to have fueled Diaz’s decision. He is among the nation’s highest-paid defensive coordinators and did not leave because of a dispute over money, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Asked by the Miami Herald before the season if he would like to become a head coach, Diaz said: “If the right opportunity presented itself.”
Is that his ultimate goal?
“For me, you work in this profession and it’s unpredictable,” he said. “You don’t really control where you go. My kids are starting their third year at school here. And again, every day that I get to live a day of my life in Miami is, like, a gift from the gods for me. So it’s just hard to think about anything else other than this time that I get to be home.”
Losing Diaz, 44, is a significant blow. Diaz guided a Miami defense that ranks No. 1 in the nation in pass defense (140.8 yards allowed a game), No. 1 in tackles for loss (10.5 a game) and No. 1 in third-down converson percentage (23.7 percent converted).
The Canes also rank second nationally in yards allowed per game, third in pass efficiency defense, ninth in sacks, 12th in takeaways and 15th in scoring defense.
In 2017, Diaz’s defense led the nation in sacks. In 2016, his first season at Miami, UM was 12th in the nation in points allowed per game, at 18.5.
He was one of the creators of UM’s turnover chain that drew national attention the past two seasons.
Diaz was out recruiting for the Canes on Tuesday night, partaking in in-home visits with Class of 2019 defensive commitments Te’Cory Couch and Cameron Williams.
UM has 11 oral commitments on defense, and several - including New York based defensive tackle Jason Blissett - have said they will stick with their Hurricanes commitment even if Diaz left.
“I’m not looking anywhere,” Blissett said Tuesday while rumors swirled about Diaz’s future.
After news broke about Diaz’s likely move to Temple, four-star defensive end Jahfari Harvey also reiterated his commitment to Miami.
“I wish him the best,” Harvey said, “and I trust coach [Mark] Richt to hire a great defensive coordinator.”
Diaz’s departure could have other ripple effects. He’s friends with safeties coach Ephraim Banda and outside linebackers coach Jonathan Patke and could try to take both with him to Temple. Both Banda and Patke worked with Diaz in previous jobs.
UM has three junior defensive players who could turn pro - defensive end Joe Jackson and linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Mike Pinckney.
A UM source said the expectation had been that Quarterman and Pinckney would return to school, but that’s now less clear amid the Diaz news. Nobody at UM would be surprised if Jackson leaves regardless of Diaz’s decision.
Among those believed to have interest in succeeding Diaz at UM: Tommy Tuberville, 64, who was Hurricanes defensive coordinator in 1993 and was 159-99 as a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati (his most recent head job, in 2016).
Before hiring Diaz, Richt pursued Dave Aranda, who instead went to LSU in 2016 and this past January received a new four-year contract that will pay him $2.5 million annually. So Aranda doesn’t appear like a realistic option.
At Temple, Diaz would replace Geoff Collins, who took the head coaching job at Georgia Tech after guiding Temple to an 8-4 record this season.
This is the second time Diaz is replacing Collins; he also followed him as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator in 2015 before joining the Hurricanes staff a year later.
UM has two future games scheduled with Temple - in Miami on Sept. 5, 2020 and at Temple on Sept. 23, 2023.
UM is welcoming more than a dozen recruits to campus this weekend, in advance of the three-day early signing period that begins next Wednesday.
Here’s who’s reportedly coming, by position:
Offensive line: Tommy Kennedy (the Butler left tackle has one year of eligibility remaining; also considering Texas and Oklahoma) and Adam ElGammal (two-star tackle from New York will consider flipping from Cincinnati).
Receiver: Jeremiah Payton (four-star Neptune Beach receiver is a solid UM oral commitment) and four-star Hollywood Chaminade Madonna receiver John Dunmore (a Penn State commit) are both visiting this weekend.
The odds are still against getting Dunmore to flip, but as Canesport’s Matt Shodell noted, there was a good meeting between Dunmore, his mother and two UM coaches at a Miami car dealership on Tuesday night, and UM is still in the picture.
Also, Lake City three-star receiver T.J. Jones has been mentioned as a possible visitor.
Tight end: Keon Zipperer (four-star Lakeland tight end also is considering Alabama, LSU and Florida) and Larry Hodges (three-star Tampa-based tight end is a UM oral commitment).
Defensive line: Kris Bogle (four-star Cardinal Gibbons defensive end is considering UM and five others, but Alabama might be tough to beat); Jared Hunte (New York-based defensive tackle has serious interest in UM); Lloyd Summerall (four-star Lakeland defensive end is a top target and Miami is firmly in the mix); Jason Blissett (New York based four-star tackle is a UM oral commitment); Cameron Williams (four-star Hollywood Chaminade Madonna end is a UM oral commitment); Jalar Holley (three-star Georgia-based defensive tackle is a UM oral commitment) and Jahfari Harvey (four-star Georgia based defensive end is a UM oral commitment).
Linebacker: Avery Huff (St. Thomas Aquinas inside linebacker is a UM oral commitment); Samuel Brooks (three-star Miami Northwestern defender is a UM oral commitment and can also play defensive end)…. Also, Canesport reports that three-star Plant City linebacker James Gordon (a Minnesota oral commitment) might visit.
Defensive backs: Jarvis Brownlee (a UM oral commitment, but the Carol City cornerback announced he is visiting FSU this weekend and is being strongly pursued by UF and UCF); Te’Cory Couch (Hollywood Chaminade Madonna cornerback is a UM oral commitment); Tyriq Stevenson (four-star Miami Southridge cornerback is one of UM’s highest priorities; UM stands among his top contenders); Keontra Smith (four-star Chaminade Madonna safety is a solid oral commitment).
Pensacola-based cornerback Martin Emerson – a Mississippi State commit – is visiting this week but told Canesport he will then visit Virginia and Louisville next month and sign in early February.
It looks like it will be tough to hold onto Brownlee.
Specialist: Louis Hedley (three-star San Francisco-based punter) is an oral commitment and will battle Zach Feagles and Jack Spicer for the punting job next year. He’s also due to visit this weekend.
No quarterbacks or running backs are reportedly scheduled to visit.
Miami Herald sportswriter David Wilson contributed to this report.