Manny Diaz: Miami football players have to police themselves

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 21: Head Coach Jim McElwain of the Central Michigan Chippewas and Head Coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes shakes hands after the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 21: Head Coach Jim McElwain of the Central Michigan Chippewas and Head Coach Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes shakes hands after the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

There has been a lot of fallout in the Miami football team’s sluggish 17-12 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday. The Hurricanes effort and how seriously they took the Chippewas was questioned.

When the Miami football team had its most success from 1983-2001 the players set a culture that was passed down year-by-year from the upperclassman to the new players. ESPN College Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit has stated that the Miami football program has more loyalty than anyone in college football.

Miami football head coach Manny Diaz is looking for players who will be competitive every game and every week. Diaz stated after what was their second straight poor Wednesday practice in a row that playing time would be tied to competitiveness. Diaz stated when he was hired that they were going to change the culture.

It was repeated frequently throughout the offseason that changes had been made. The biggest difference was reportedly led by strength and conditioning coach David Feeley. It does not seem to have translated on the field.

Miami has yet to play a complete game. Even in the 63-0 victory over Bethune-Cookman Miami led 7-0 after the first quarter. The Hurricanes have been outscored 24-20 in the first quarter this season. That number is very deceiving. Against Florida and North Carolina Miami was outscored 25-6 in the opening 15 minutes.

Slow starts have been the norm for the Hurricanes this season. Diaz mentioned that the lack of competitiveness is not one specific player or on one specific side of the ball. Miami has to get it figured out during their bye week. The Hurricanes had a tough start to the season. Diaz commented it is how the players are competing.

"“It’s not every player on one side of the ball or the other, but there’s too many guys that ruin it for everybody. I think today (Wednesday) will be a day that they’ll remember. I think they’ll be telling future recruiting classes about today’s practice.When you talk about changing a culture, you don’t just put posters on the wall, snap your fingers and it just happens…This is something that is years in the making, and it’s never easy. Human inertia is to be average and mediocre. That current and that gravitational pull sucks you down every day.And so, it just doesn’t happen where all of a sudden everyone is like, ‘I’m going to come in here and bring my best in here every day.’ That is quite literally why they call us coach — to make sure that it happens.The whole difference between the haves and have nots in college football are the ones that establish habits that are passed down from the older guys to the younger guys because they know the culture. New guys come in and they absorb the culture from the older guys in the locker room.That’s all the stories we heard here, the names that are hanging from the ceiling here. They all passed it down. At some point, there was a disconnect with that, and when there’s a disconnect, it has to be rebuilt, and that just doesn’t happen (overnight). The players always know the vibe and the pulse of the locker room.They have asked for it: The players have always said we want to be able to police ourselves more. Well, guess what, here’s your badge. There’s no doubt you tie in playing time to competitiveness.I think that is exactly true: You’re trying to play your most competitive guys, and then you want to try to recruit the most talented competitive guys you can find. But you don’t want to go to battle with guys that are non-competitive. Again, I’m going to say this, our guys, we don’t have non-competitive guys.Our guys are competing. The difference is: How often are we competing? And are we choosing at certain times? And that’s where we’re trying to separate those into different classes.”"

The disconnect about learning how to win and setting the Miami football culture was

lost incrementally

. It began with Miami’s last major bowl appearance for 14 years when the Hurricanes won the Orange Bowl over Florida State after the 2003 season. They wouldn’t make another major bowl until the Orange Bowl in 2017.

Miami split appearances in the Peach Bowl the following two seasons. The Hurricanes won the 2006 MicronPC bowl. After that Miami did not win another bowl until the Camping World Bowl in Mark Richt’s first season in 2016. When a team hasn’t played in a major bowl or won one for 10 years that’s a lot of culture to learn.

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Players like Ed Reed have routinely returned to Miami. Both Reed and Michael Irvin have spoken to the Hurricanes at Paradise Camp and other times throughout the year. What Miami needs is for the culture to change in the locker room on a day in, day out basis. As Diaz said they need the players to police themselves.