Miami has fired coach Manny Diaz, the school announced on Monday, setting off the first domino of a blockbuster day on the coaching carousel. Diaz's firing opened the door for the Hurricanes to hire Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, a former Hurricanes offensive tackle and graduate of Miami, who has led the Ducks to three consecutive Pac-12 Championship Games. The program is reportedly targeting Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich to lead the program into the future.
"We are grateful to Coach Diaz for his many contributions to our campus community and to his native South Florida, and for the strong leadership and exemplary character he exhibited during his tenure at the University," Miami president Julio Frenk said in a statement. "We wish him and his family the very best as they move forward."
Miami reportedly negotiated with Cristobal while Diaz was still employed, leaving Diaz hanging out to dry. In a statement, Diaz expressed frustration and anger with how the saga went down.
"I am disappointed in the University's decision and the manner in which this played out over the last few weeks," he in a statement on his Twitter account. "The uncertainty impacted our team, our staff and their families -- these are real people that gave everything to this program. For that, for them, I hurt. Our players have proven their resiliency through, so I know they will re-group and move forward with class, toughness and unity; that is who they are, that is what we're about. I am thankful I had the honor to lead these young men and will cherish every minute of our time together."
Miami hired Diaz to replace Mark Richt, who retired from as Hurricanes coach after the 2018 season. Diaz, the defensive coordinator on Richt's staff and a native son of the city, was hired to build on the success; however, Miami went just 21-15 in three seasons, including a 7-5 campaign in 2021 marred with injuries.
After dropping to No. 1 Alabama in the opener, the Hurricanes fell against Michigan State, Virginia and North Carolina before suffering a bad loss to Florida State that might have sealed Diaz's fate. Miami accepted a bid to face Washington State in the Sun Bowl, a relative disappointment after entering the season ranked in the top 15.
Diaz's long nightmare is over
Rumors of Miami targeting Cristobal started in the middle of last week while Diaz was still out recruiting and preparing for a bowl game. It was one of the more publicly embarrassing coaching searches of the offseason as Diaz had to very publicly wait for Miami to make a decision while still trying to figure out whether he should still work.
Miami is going through a critical time for the future of the program. If the Hurricanes can land both Radakovich and Cristobal, the display will have been worth it. But still, the way Miami went about handling Diaz throughout this whole process is a masterclass in what not to do. It made Diaz coming back to Coral Gables completely untenable.
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What's next for Diaz
All of a sudden, Diaz becomes perhaps the best defensive coordinator on the market. He earned the head coaching job thanks to his outstanding work rebuilding the Hurricanes' defense, bringing the unit to No. 9 in yards per play and No. 12 in scoring defense to become a Broyles Award finalist in his first season. The unit only got better over his coordinating tenure.
If Diaz wants to stay in the ACC, there's a fancy defensive coordinator opening down the road at Clemson after Brent Venables left to take the Oklahoma head coaching job. With 25 coaching changes in college football -- and counting -- there are a number of other coordinator jobs up for grabs. With Virginia connected to other candidates following the abrupt departure of Bronco Mendenhall, it's unlikely that Diaz would immediately get another head coaching job -- but the carousel hasn't come to a stop quite yet.