The moment a coach leaves a school, and in most cases long before, fans and media speculate on the next hire. Names are bandied about on social media, in articles, on podcasts, in videos and TV shows, on message boards. The coaching carousel is the silliest part of the college football season.
Manny Diaz is no stranger to it all, having worked for seven schools in a 20-year career. Miami’s defensive coordinator is at home now, coaching for his favorite school in the town that raised him, with family close by. He is successful, too, and with that comes speculation.
A school that twice employed him, Mississippi State, may have had some interest in him before bringing in Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Citing a source, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman reported Diaz was one of a handful of candidates “in the mix” for the job.
His name will continue to be thrown around, but Diaz said he ignores it.
“I do, because it’s not real,” he told The Post after Wednesday’s practice. “People say things all the time. In this profession, you’re either about to be hired or fired, just about, right? I don’t pay attention to it because it’s literally not even reality.”
It’s “easy,” he said, to stay in the moment in a week like this. “We’ve got Clemson,” he said. “It’s hard to think about anything but beating Clemson.”
What’s his satisfaction level with his current job?
“There’s not a day I don’t thank God I coach at the University of Miami,” he said. “The allure of being at Miami, it’s still with me every day as it was the first day I was here.”
His homecoming been everything he thought it would be. And he wants more of it.
Moments before Diaz spoke to The Post, an out-of-town reporter in a group interview setting asked Diaz what it means to South Florida when the Canes are good.
“The youth and high school football here is outstanding, arguably as good as anywhere in the country,” he said. “I think people down here want to see the University of Miami represent that. They want to see us represent their community. Those are our young men out there playing against the rest of the world.
“Hey, we’re down here at the end of the peninsula, right? We have a little bit of that ‘us against the world’ mentality. I think the players had always heard that. I think the way this year has gone, the success that we’ve had and some of the negativity that’s come out against our program, I think they can now live what they’ve heard about. They can really understand why ‘The U’ has the type of place in college football that it does.”
Why has it worked so well with Mark Richt?
“He is secure in himself,” Diaz said. “I think everybody from the staff to the players, they take a lot of comfort in knowing there’s going to be a structure here and there’s going to be a consistency. We have an amazing staff chemistry, and the reason why is coach Right is an ego-less man. There’s no one on the staff who can say, ‘I’ve done this’ or ‘I’ve done that.’ We all have to fall in line behind him. I think the players see that. That’s why you see a great team in how we support each other on offense, defense and special teams.”
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