New Miami coach Manny Diaz has fired the entire offensive staff and strength and conditioning coach Gus Felder, he said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday.
Diaz, hired on Sunday after 18 days as Temple head coach, said letting go of Thomas Brown, Jon Richt, Todd Hartley, Stacy Searels, Ron Dugans and Felder was one of the hardest decisions he had to make. But he felt it was necessary to get Miami moving in the right direction on offense.
“The word I want to be is cutting edge,” Diaz said about his plans for revamping an offense that ranked No. 104 in the nation in 2018.
Diaz said he already has three finalists to fill the offensive coordinator job and is excited about the possibilities, but would make a hire when the time is right.
There is nobody more familiar with the issues that Miami needs to fix than Diaz, who spent the last three years as Miami defensive coordinator under Mark Richt. While his unit flourished — ranking in the top five in the nation this past season — the offense struggled with issues at quarterback, offensive line and receiver.
Diaz avoided using the word spread when describing what he wants his offense to be, instead saying he wants “an offense that creates problems for the defense.”
Miami returns three quarterbacks: N’Kosi Perry, Cade Weldon and Jarren Williams. Perry split time with Malik Rosier this season, but got himself into trouble, too, serving a suspension for the season opener against LSU and creating embarrassing headlines after posting a sexually explicit video on Snapchat.
Perry was benched for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin, a 35-3 loss that ended a disappointing 7-6 season.
Asked about where Perry and the other quarterbacks stand headed into the offseason, Diaz said, “It’s important our football team has discipline and great accountability. To be the quarterback at the University of Miami, that’s no small thing. In this town, you’ve got to have thick skin and you’ve got to have a way about you. There was a time we called this Quarterback U and that can happen again. All the guys understand everything they do, how you do anything is how you do everything and their behavior reflects their desire to be the quarterback at the University of Miami.”
Diaz also said he would retain the entire defensive staff, and make one additional hire on that side of the ball. Before Richt announced his surprise retirement on Sunday, he had promoted Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke to be co-defensive coordinators. Diaz said he would make an announcement on every coach’s role once he makes his additional defensive hire.
Diaz already got some big news when one of his best players, starting linebacker Shaq Quarterman, announced Tuesday that he would return to school. Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud all return at linebacker to form a solid nucleus for the 2019 season.