Changing Miami football culture begins with players

When Ed Reed was hired to be the Chief of Staff for the Miami football program part of the reason was to assist Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz and his coaching staff with setting the culture.

During the ReUnion special on FoxSports during Super Bowl week, Miami football legends Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin and Reggie Wayne discussed the Hurricanes program. One of the details that were discussed is that when it came to work ethic the culture in Coral Gables was passed down by the players.

Head coach Manny Diaz has routinely stated that the culture in the Miami football program has to be established and taught from the older players on the roster mentoring the younger players. Reed had players like Lewis to look up to and learn from. Lewis and other Miami players would return during the summer to work out.

Reed will have a role as the Chief of Staff within the Miami football program that will evolve. Helping Diaz work with the older players to set the culture will be one of the goals. Departed linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney helped set the culture with the defense the last few years.

Diaz helped change the culture on the Miami defense as the coordinator and head coach over the prior four seasons. Now the addition of D’Eriq King through the transfer portal is expected to help do that with the offense. Diaz expects King to have an impact in 2020 and beyond on the Miami QB room.

In an extensive interview with Andy Staples of The Athletic on his eponymous podcast released on Monday, Diaz discussed at length the state of the Miami football program. Among the topics, they elaborated on is that elite programs in college football culture is passed down from the older to younger players.

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“The best programs, they are able to set a culture where the old guys teach the young guys. You’ve seen great have that flywheel effect and somewhere it gets lost. It doesn’t usually happen in one year. It usually takes a special group of guys.

Coaches can talk about it, but players have to lead it and it takes the right group of guys. This program (Miami), the football alumni are almost the owners of the program. This is not a program where one or two transcendent coaches went in there and defined the face of the program.

There have been so many great coaches that have come through here. It has been a culture that has been set by the players. The coaches have to start it. That has been a culture the players have fed on. That has been my main job to get the guys in the locker room to buy into what Miami has been in the past.”

Diaz has been pleased with the change in the Hurricanes’ work ethic and dedication in the weight room. That has not translated to consistent performance on the field. Diaz elaborated to Staples about the difference between a change in culture and a change in performance.

“There is culture and there is performance. There were a lot of ways culturally we got what we wanted a year ago. Changing the way we work, changing the way our offseason programs run, changing the way we lift weights. There are a lot of things that ticked a lot of boxes.

It did not get matched by our performance, especially in our last three games. What caused the computer to crash. We had things going for a month we looked like a competent unit. In a weird way, it may turn out to be a blessing because it made us take a hard look at ourselves.

We have some fatal flaws we have to get corrected.”

The culture is in place internally. Getting players to sign and hiring good coaches relies heavily on culture. Miami turned over nearly the entire offensive coaching staff for the second year in a row, signed the 13th ranked recruiting class nationally and added several quality players through the transfer portal.

“If the culture wasn’t in place D’Eriq King wouldn’t have come, Rhett Lashlee wouldn’t have come. Rhett had amazing offers to go other places…Guys don’t want to come here to hang out and go 7-5. There is a notion here that there are guys that want to work and want to be great.”

Reed was a part of the best team in college football history with Miami in 2001 and the Superbowl XLVII Champions with the Baltimore Ravens. The Pro Football Hall of Fame safety was also a part of the Ravens during losing seasons. Reed knows what creates winning teams and which habits are part of losing ones.

Reed brings a lot to the Miami football program. Diaz spoke about the attributes that make Reed a valuable asset to the Hurricanes, what his job will be as the Chief of Staff and how he can strengthen what Diaz is doing to make Miami better overall.

“Ed’s outstanding for a zillion reasons. Someone who can check the blind spots for the head coach. Another set of eyes there another football wisdom. Miami has picked itself off the mat a few times. Ed came and spoke to our team.

Ed got up there and must have mentioned 20 guys that a die-hard Hurricanes fan would struggle to remember and that everyone on a team is important. When you have a guy who is elite…they can see small problems before they become big problems. (On not respecting Reed) “They won’t be here long”

Setting the culture is not enough for a coaching staff. The staff must get the players to buy into that culture and for them to lead the transformation that needs to take place to become a successful program. Diaz spoke about setting the culture in 2019 and what caused the lack of success on the field.

“What I learned last year is you set a culture and you want everyone to be a part of it. It’s not for everybody. You want to teach discipline to the ones that are not disciplined. You know this is going to last longer than their football career. If people don’t want to get with the program maybe there is another place for them.

You can improve the team through subtraction. We have a better sense of our identity (than a year ago) and better sense of who were are and I think our players sense that.”

The right things have been said and the right people have been brought in during the 2020 offseason for the Miami football program. All of that will be meaningless if that doesn’t translate into wins. The 2019 season was another disappointing mediocre year in the last decade and a half for the Hurricanes.

Next: Manny Diaz expects QB room better because of D'Eriq King

The losses in some way could be written off somewhat as a fluke. The bottom line is Miami is 13-16 in their last 29 games, 11-16 against FBS teams and 8-14 against Power Five teams. At Miami that is not acceptable. The Hurricanes need to prove the culture has changed in 2020 by winning the games they are expected to.

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