The head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Manny Diaz, was in Jacksonville recently to speak to the Hurricane Club of Jacksonville. Diaz also joined “XL Primetime” to discuss his taking over the Miami program.
“I wake up humbled every day to get the opportunity to coach at Miami,” Diaz told 1010XL. “But about a minute after that feeling, you realize that there is a lot of work to do. I think this program belongs among the nation’s elite because guys like Leon (Searcy) have put in the work to get it there and have set a standard, which helps because the blueprint is already in place on how to win at Miami. You have to build a program that has a lot of the same value as what it took to get it done back in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s and make it happen again.”
In December, Diaz left Miami to take the head coaching job at Temple, only to return a few weeks later after the sudden resignation of Hurricane head coach Mark Richt.
Diaz was asked what these past few months have been like.
“It’s certainly been crazy,” Diaz said. “To compare the experience at Temple, I think I was there for 19 days, but coming back to Miami was in some ways actually easier because of having the institutional knowledge. I knew the coaches and the guys in the locker room, but I also knew the diagnosis of the patient.
“Sometimes when you take a new job, you may have the cure, but you don’t always know what the disease is. So, to have some sort of an idea of what was wrong with us and to have an idea of how to correct it because we don’t look at this as a rebuild thing. We are trying to get competitive for championships right away.
“That’s a big ask because we have a tough schedule and we play in a really good league, but our players wouldn’t expect it any other way and they feel like we should be able to compete right now.”
Speaking of Richt’s sudden decision to step down as head coach, Diaz was asked if there were any warning signs and what legacy Richt leaves behind in Coral Gables.
“I wouldn’t know because it was such a shock to everybody,” Diaz said. “There was no indication that something like that could happen.
“Mark’s legacy and what he left with his three years at Miami was, number one, a taste of what Miami could be and a taste of what Hard Rock Stadium could be on those magical back-to-back Saturdays when we played Virginia Tech and Notre Dame two years ago. Between that and what he left with the indoor practice facility, which would not have gotten done without his leadership.
“It took a guy like Mark to gain support of everybody around Miami. So, he left his alma mater in a much better place than he found it and that is so vital.”
Finally, Diaz talked about the August 24th matchup with Florida that will not only kickoff the season for both teams, but it will also kickoff off college football in 2019.
“It’s going to be awesome, but it should be a huge game,” Diaz said. “We could play at 2:00 A.M. on a Tuesday morning and it’s going to be a big deal when Miami and Florida get together.
“We all know it doesn’t happen enough and the way I was raised, the big three should be the showcase of college football. There was a time that whoever ran this state ran college football.
“We want it to be a showcase and to me it makes total sense that Miami and Florida are going to kick off the season.”
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)