Blake James had embattled tenure as Miami Hurricanes athletic director

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

The firing of Blake James as the Miami Hurricanes athletic director ended an embattled tenure. James was recently criticized for comments he made about the future of head football coach Manny Diaz. James stated he could not see into the future and refused to discuss if Diaz would make it through the 2021 season.

James was hired at Miami in 2013. Three major hires were made during the James era. James fired head football coach Al Golden seven games into the 2015 season following a 58-0 loss to Clemson. Golden has not been a head coach since then. Golden has been the linebackers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals since 2020.

Former Miami quarterback Mark Richt was hired to replace Golden after he was fired by Georgia. Richt lasted three seasons before retiring following the 2018 season. In three years with the Hurricanes, Richt had a 26-13 record. Former Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was hired to replace Richt.

Diaz had been hired at Temple less than three weeks before returning to Miami. Miami had to pay Temple a $4 million buyout for him to return as head coach. Diaz was the fourth out of six hires for the Miami football program as a head coach with no previous experience. The hiring of Diaz was met with mixed responses.

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Head baseball coach Jim Morris also retired in 2018. Longtime assistant and former Miami baseball player Gino DiMare was hired to replace Morris. James has been widely criticized by the fan base for the hires of DiMare and Diaz for being lazy. Neither had prior head coaching experience and didn’t require a national search.

"“Every game affects the evaluation of a job…Every game you play affects your status. It strengthens it in certain games and obviously challenges it in others…I can’t look into the future and say, ‘If X then Y…But yes, there’s always an ongoing evaluation of our coaches in any sport.”"

The comments from James came during a meeting with reporters he purportedly organized to discuss the state of the Miami football program. James firing likely doesn’t bode well for Diaz. The two were often linked, at least until the comments made last month. A new AD would presumably want to hire his own football coach.

Larranaga could also be under pressure with three straight losing seasons. The Miami basketball program signed top 25 classes in 2021 and 2022. Those classes will set the foundation of the Miami basketball program. How well the Hurricanes perform this season could determine the future for Larranaga.

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James was initially hired by Miami as the interim athletic director in 2013. Prior to being elevated, James was the Senior Associate AD for Development and Ticket Operations with Miami. James was well thought of as a key fundraiser for the Miami athletic department but always seemed to be under criticism as athletic director.

The Miami football program came under criticism in September from ESPN College Gameday. University of Miami President Julio Frenk, James and Diaz were all criticized by Gameday analysts for not being aligned. The conversation went back and forth during the week following. James’ response came off as defensive.

Miami Hurricanes have fired Blake James. dark. Next

The success of the Miami Hurricanes athletic department rests primarily on the performance of the football program. For the majority of the last 15 years, Miami has played far below expectations. Since James was hired in 2013, Miami is 68-44 in football. The James tenure ends very much embattled.