Blake James praised Manny Diaz for Miami football staff changes

CORAL GABLES, FL - JANUARY 02: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - JANUARY 02: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

During a video conference with reporters on Tuesday, Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James stated he is pleased with the changes Manny Diaz has made in the football program. Diaz remade nearly the entire defensive staff for the Miami football program during the offseason.

For the second consecutive offseason, Diaz made wholesale changes in his coaching staff. Miami hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, offensive line coach Garin Justice and wide receivers coach Rob Likens during the 2020 offseason. Four new defensive coaches were the personnel changes during the 2021 offseason.

Defensive line coach Jess Simpson returned after two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Linebackers coach Travis Williams came to Miami from Auburn, defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson was hired from South Carolina and cornerbacks coach DeMarcus Van Dyke was elevated from assistant recruiting director.

Williams is likely on his way out after less than a month in Coral Gables to become the defensive coordinator at Central Florida under Gus Malzahn. Malzahn was hired as the Knights head coach on Monday. Williams spent seven seasons on the Auburn staff under Malzahn, the last two as c0-defensive coordinator and LB coach.

"“He, I think, is as good as any coach of really evaluating what needs to get better and what changes need to take place in order for us to get better…He’s got, already just in a short window, a track record of showing that he’s willing to make changes and so far the changes that he’s made have really worked out well.”"

James praised Diaz during his meeting with reporters on Tuesday as transcribed by David Wilson of the Miami Herald. Before the defensive staff changes were made, Diaz announced he was taking over the play-calling on defense from former coordinator Blake Baker. Baker left to become the LSU LB coach earlier this month.

One possible replacement for Williams could be longtime defensive coach Bob Shoop who was recently hired by Miami as an analyst this month. No official announcement has been made by Williams or UCF regarding his hiring yet. All of the changes by Diaz since being hired present portray James’ point about Diaz’s ability to evaluate.

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Special teams coordinator and strikers coach Jonathan Patke remains the only coach on the Maimi staff remaining from the Mark Richt era inherited by Diaz. Diaz has shown his primary loyalty is to the Miami football program. Diaz has evaluated the coaching staff and roster over the past two years and made the necessary changes.