Miami football alums like Manny Diaz’s energy, innovation and swag

21 Oct 2000: Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
21 Oct 2000: Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport /

Appearing at Miami football alum Vernon Carey’s charity event on Friday several former Hurricanes discussed what they like about head coach Manny Diaz during his first four-plus months leading the program.

Manny Diaz’s first four months leading the Miami football program has created a lot of excitement in the magic city. Miami Hurricanes alums are taking notice. At his charity golf outing on Saturday former UM and Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey said that Diaz is energetic and bringing the swag back to Miami.

Diaz has hit the ground running since being named as Mark Richt’s successor on December 30. He fired Richt’s entire offensive staff on New Year’s Eve and has been busy ever since.

Diaz has grasped the importance of social media. He has used it to coin the phrase “The New Miami” and the hashtag #TNM. Diaz has turned to social media to cryptically communicate big announcements coming.

Former Hurricanes Carey, All-American offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and running back Quadtrine Hill all praised Diaz for the job he has done in the four and a half months leading the Miami football program. He gets what Miami is all about. The son of a former Miami-Dade Mayor he was the only choice as Richt’s replacement.

Diaz belies his actual age of 45. He understands the importance of social media and what motivates young players in this era. Recruits are more connected to each other than in past eras with texts and the multitude of social media sites and apps making keeping in touch at everyone’s fingertips.

Carey understands the recruiting process better than most. His son Vernon Jr. is the nation’s number two basketball recruit. After being recruited by Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga, Carey Jr. signed a National Letter of Intent with Duke.

Vernon Jr. is almost certainly a one and done player. He will be a 2020 lottery pick if he enters the NBA Draft if expected. Vernon Sr. felt that players leaving early for the NFL before they are ready has hindered the Miami football roster in the past few seasons. Carey Sr. spoke what about Diaz impresses him.

"“I think it’s great. He’s young, energetic…He brings that swag that UM was lacking and missing. I hope he just builds on that. They had a lot of swag, had those defensive guys on the ball playing with a lot of energy.Those guys stay another year and invest in yourself, then you have a better opportunity, but guys [are leaving] so quick. You got to slow down a little bit. If we can get a couple of guys to stay a little longer — like, look at Clemson. Those guys stayed this year, and they won a national championship.Just like our year when we won the national championship: Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie could’ve left. Those guys stayed. That’s when you’re trying to build something good. You’ve got guys that keep leaving and you can’t get that depth — somebody gets hurt, next man up.You’ve got a freshman coming in, and it’s hard to have a lot of success with freshmen, at football.”"

McKinnie and Carey played together at Miami on the Hurricanes 2001 National Championship team. McKinnie has been impressed with how Diaz motivates his team and what he has done with the Miami Hurricanes defense as the coordinator the past three seasons.

"“I see how he gets them hyped, and I see what he’s done to the defense. I just like how he was able to get his side of the ball together and in order and had them playing at a high level. I feel like he put the right people in place to get the offense going. That’ll be able to help the offense even.”"

Hill has been impressed with Diaz’s commitment to bringing the entire Miami football team into the 21st century. Richt was continually criticized throughout his three year Miami tenure for sticking with the antiquated pro-style offense.

"“A lot of the things that were happening in the Richt era — the defense and a lot of the ‘Canes hoopla — was coming from Manny Diaz. He has the right idea, he knows what it’s like to be a ‘Cane, but most importantly, he’s hungry.Richt is a ‘Cane, he’s a good coach, but the problem was he wasn’t hungry to be innovative, to stay in front of the curve. Manny’s idea is to stay in front of the curve.They got some new guys with new game plans – at the spring game, you saw a lot more creative play calling, a lot less predictable play calling, a lot of stuff that’s not going to be common to defenses,. That puts you at an advantage.”"

Next. ESPN ranks Miami Hurricanes offense one of FBS 25 best. dark

Miami will continue the momentum from Diaz being promoted to head coach for the next three and a half months. It will all be meaningless when the Hurricanes take the field August 24 against Florida in Orlando. One loss will likely have the fans and media questioning what happened and if Diaz can be a good head coach.