Feature Friday extra: Manny Diaz on recruiting, Miami culture and loving the city

Manny Diaz sits with his father, former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, at the Miami-Florida State men's basketball game on Jan. 9, 2016. (Courtesy Eric Espada/UM Athletics)

Manny Diaz sits with his father, former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, at the Miami-Florida State men’s basketball game on Jan. 9, 2016. (Courtesy Eric Espada/UM Athletics)

A few leftover notes and thoughts that didn’t make it into my long profile story on defensive coordinator Manny Diaz (click here to read):

However happy he may be now, Diaz, like any coach, knows his job security hinges on results.

He recalls the culture the Hurricanes created in the 1980s. They were faster and tougher than almost every team they faced, and played with a flair never before seen on such a scale. They did it with a few players from other parts of the country, but for the most part, it was “local resources,” Diaz said. “Talent that is home-grown.”

That culture changed college football. “I look at it like, those games in the ‘80s, when it was Miami-[Oklahoma], and OU was 33-3 and had three losses [to Miami] – that was Miami defeating [them],” Diaz said. “And really, the culture of college football. With what we had down here, with our players, our people.”

But Diaz was a kid then. Even his oldest son – who, in a lovely twist of fate, just began his freshman year at FSU – was 4 years old the last time Miami won a national championship. It goes without saying most high school recruits don’t recall a time the Hurricanes were nationally relevant.

But things change. In football, and in life.

“What seems like it will last forever generally doesn’t,” he said. “We just have to do our part and the rest will take care of itself.”

Manny Diaz, during a spring 2016 practice. (AP)

Manny Diaz during a spring 2016 practice. (AP)

How has recruiting changed from the days when Miami was dominating?

“If you grow up today the world seems a lot smaller than it did then,” he said. “Kids are traveling. Recruiting becomes much more national. Things like Hudl means more programs are evaluating them. Social media makes them easier to contact than they ever were in the past. There’s no doubt, recruiting is different. There were so many kids in Miami that would slip under the radar. A lot of the underrated kids that Miami would win with because the recruiting analysts weren’t thorough in evaluating South Florida, those kids aren’t secrets now, when they might have been then.”

Even if Miami wins, it has to compete with other winning programs. How can Miami break through in recruiting?

“The first thing you sell is people,” Diaz said. “The first person you sell is Mark Richt. I think that’s why he’s so important at this time, not just because of who he is and what he’s accomplished and who he is as a person, but he’s a Miami guy. He’s from South Florida. He gets Miami. You’ve got to get Miami. You have to understand what this place is about. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But if you love it, you love it. It’s maddening, but if somebody ever says something bad about it, you defend it. I imagine anybody would be that way about their home.

“So it’s about that. You have to make the kids know you’ll develop them while they’re here, in a first-class manner in all aspects. I think Mark is moving toward things to that end, with what’s happening in our conditioning program and our nutrition program, certainly the push for facility improvements, to know that you can stay at Miami and get anything that you need, the same way you can in other parts of the country.”

Having recruited in the Big 12 and SEC, Diaz has experienced some of the most competitive recruiting environments in the country. “It’s the way the schools are placed,” he said of the SEC. “Every day you wake up and you feel it — you’ve got four schools in your backyard.” That makes it all the more important for Miami to raise its game.

One more thing: When Diaz was watching games in the Orange Bowl as a lad, was he studying the game, like a future coach might?

“I thought I was,” he said. “I always had that natural curiosity, for sure. But you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t realize how deep the iceberg goes under the water.”

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