Jan. 5, 2011
Manny Diaz, the former defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee, has joined the Texas coaching staff in the same position, Head Coach Mack Brown announced Wednesday.
"I was very flattered when I heard from Coach Brown about this tremendous opportunity," Diaz said. "It was not something I sought out, but Coach Brown called, was very complimentary of our season and asked if I was interested in talking. I was very interested immediately, got to Austin, loved everything I saw and now am excited to be the defensive coordinator at Texas. I'm really looking forward to being a part of a great team and staff. That all starts with Coach Brown and everything he's done to make Texas great. Just having the chance to be a cog in that wheel is really exciting to me."
Last season with the Bulldogs, Diaz guided a defense that ranked 21st in the nation in scoring defense (19.9 ppg), 15th in rushing defense (119.1 ypg) and 17th in tackles for loss (7.0 pg). That was a dramatic turnaround for MSU from the season prior to his arrival. In 2009, the defense finished 71st in scoring defense, 62nd in rushing defense and 89th in TFL. Mississippi State also finished ranked 13th in red zone defense (.73) and 22nd in turnovers forced (28) nationally this season.
"After an extensive search, including conversations with head coaches and offensive coordinators around the country, Manny's name continued to come up," Brown said. "He's a bright, young coach who brings a lot of energy to our program. Manny's been a tremendous staff person everywhere he has been, and he will fit in perfectly with our guys here. When you add him and Bo (Davis) to Duane (Akina) and Oscar (Giles), that's a defensive staff I'm really excited about moving forward with."
With the hiring of Diaz today and Bo Davis (defensive tackles coach) yesterday, Texas' defensive staff for 2011 is set. Duane Akina returns as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach and Oscar Giles as defensive ends coach.
"I had a chance to meet Bo (Davis) during my visit and he's an exciting hire," Diaz said. "I'm really looking forward to working with him and getting with the rest of the guys as soon as possible because a tight staff is really important. Good staff morale sends a strong message to the players that we want to accomplish this together. As a group, our number one priority as a defense will be to find a way to win. At the end of the day, we want to lead the nation in wins. That's the only stat that matters."
The 2010 defense held seven opponents to 20 points or fewer, which includes only 17 points to Auburn, which has the nation's fourth-ranked scoring offense, and 14 points in the Gator Bowl to a Michigan offense that entered the game averaging 34.3 ppg. Under Diaz, LB Chris White earned first-team All-SEC honors and was named Nagurski National Player of the Week following a game against Florida where the Bulldogs held the Gators to just seven points in Gainesville.
"Texas is a place that when coaches around the country get talking, it's hard to get through a conversation without the Longhorns coming up," Diaz said. "It's a place that is always one of the first mentioned among the best jobs out there. It's an unbelievable opportunity to be able to come to Texas and be a part of the staff Coach Brown is rebuilding. The challenge of getting Texas back where it's been for so long and back where it belongs among the nation's elite is something I'm really looking forward to."
Mississippi State's nine wins in 2010 were the most for the school since a 10-2 record in 1999 and marked just the second winning season for the program since 2001. It entered the 2010 bowl season ranked No. 21/21 in the polls, and with its win in the Gator Bowl is in position for its highest final ranking since finishing No. 13/12 in 1999. That is the only time MSU has ranked higher than 18th in the final polls since 1981.
"Manny's a guy who has been involved in developing modernized schemes that have given coaches around the country problems," Brown said. "Very rarely did I talk to a person I trust who didn't bring Manny's name up. I think he's in the same mode of the great defensive coordinators we've had over the past several years at Texas."
"I didn't get much of a chance to get around town, but my wife Stephanie did and she's very excited about coming to Austin," Diaz said. "What I saw of The University and the facilities was everything I thought it would be, which is first class, but I really believe people are the most important thing when it comes to winning and being successful. Everyone I met on my trip to Texas was outstanding – starting with Coach Brown and DeLoss Dodds (Athletics Director) and all the way down the line. You can put trust in a place with a great name, great facilities and resources, but you can see why Texas wins at the highest level. They have great people and that makes all of the difference."
Prior to Mississippi State, Diaz spent four seasons as defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Diaz also coached linebackers for two years after mentoring the safeties during his first two seasons in Murfreesboro.
In four years under Diaz, the Middle Tennessee defense led its conference in sacks and tackles for loss twice, and finished no lower than third in the league in either category during his tenure. In 2009, the Blue Raiders finished second nationally in tackles for loss, stopping more than eight and a half plays per game behind the line of scrimmage. Diaz's defense also ranked sixth nationally in sacks that season, posting nearly three per game.
Also in 2009, Diaz tutored defensive end Chris McCoy who was tabbed the Sun Belt Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year. McCoy led the league and ranked sixth nationally in tackles for loss. Safety Jeremy Kellum and cornerbacks Alex Suber and Marcus Udell were also named first team all-SBC. Defensive end Jamari Lattimore along with linebackers Cam Robinson and Danny Carmichael earned second-team honors. Overall, Diaz' unit produced 17 all-conference players during his time there and put up three of the top four fewest yards allowed averages at Middle Tennessee in its FBS era.
Before joining Middle Tennessee, Diaz played a major role for one of the country's top-ranked defenses by coaching safeties in 2004 and 2005 and handling the linebackers in 2002 and 2003 for North Carolina State.
In 2005, the Wolfpack finished eighth nationally in total defense, sixth in third-down percentage, and 12th in scoring defense en route to a 7-5 record and a shutout win over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He also served as special teams coordinator and his kickoff return unit finished fifth nationally, while his punt return team blocked four kicks.
In his first year as safeties coach and special teams coordinator in 2004, N.C. State's defense finished the year as the top-ranked unit in the country in total defense by allowing just over 220 yards per game. The Wolfpack defense also held national powers Ohio State and Florida State to under 130 yards of total offense during the season. Diaz, who coached All-ACC performer and former New York Jet Andre Maddox, also had his punt return team block three kicks and take two returns for touchdowns.
Diaz handled the linebackers for N.C. State in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, the Wolfpack won the Tangerine Bowl and finished 7-5 with Diaz sharing play-calling duties for all 11 games. He also made all the defensive calls during the bowl win over Kansas.
In his first year as a full-time coach, Diaz helped the Wolfpack to one of their best seasons ever, finishing 11-3 and defeating Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. He shared in the play-calling duties, and N.C. State ended the year ranked 14th nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. In back-to-back games against Florida State and Notre Dame, N.C. State did not allow an offensive touchdown.
Diaz spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons at NCSU as a graduate assistant working primarily with the linebackers. During that time, the Wolfpack went to two bowl games and became the first ACC team to beat FSU in Tallahassee.
Diaz, whose father recently concluded his second term as mayor of the City of Miami, began his coaching career at Florida State in 1998, working alongside defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews for two seasons. During his stint, the Seminoles won a National Championship in 1999 and were runners-up in 1998.
He worked at ESPN from 1995 to 1997 after earning his B.S. in communications from FSU, and in high school, he was a Miami Herald Honorable Mention All-Dade County Scholar-Athlete for football, basketball, and baseball in 1991.
The Miami native is married to the former Stephanie Cerow and they have three sons, Colin, Gavin, and Manny.