By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has a new priority this offseason – find a defensive coordinator.
Manny Diaz left his post as the Bulldogs’ head defensive guru on Saturday to take over the same job at the University of Miami under new Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt.
“Starkville is a special place and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity Dan Mullen and (MSU director of athletics) Scott Stricklin gave my family and I,” Diaz said in a school release from Miami. “The Bulldog fans are like no other and it has been a privilege to be a part of such a great program, university and community. I wish the MSU players, coaches and fans all the best. Their future is bright. We knew it would take a very unique opportunity for us to consider leaving.”
Diaz was in his second stint with Mississippi State. After spending a year under Mullen with the Bulldogs in 2010, Diaz was rehired on a three-year deal prior to the 2015 season following stops at Texas and Louisiana Tech.
“This is the last defensive coordinator position that I ever want to take,” Diaz said when Mississippi State hired him for the second time in January of 2015. “This is it. This is where I want to coach defense.”
Diaz also served as linebackers coach for the Bulldogs during his time with the program.
Diaz’s new boss, Richt, was hired by Miami last month after spending the previous 15 seasons at Georgia. Right is happy to welcome Diaz to his staff with the Hurricanes.
“I’m very excited about Manny Diaz becoming our defensive coordinator,” Richt said. “I’ve known him for over 20 years and I’ve watched him become one of the best defensive minds in the business. He and our defensive staff will implement a 4-3 attacking style defense. I’m looking forward to working with Manny.”
Diaz’s departure now leaves five holes on Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State. In addition to needing to fill Diaz’s roles of defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Mullen must replace Tony Hughes’ former responsibilities as well. Hughes, MSU’s former safeties coach and recruiting coordinator, was named Jackson State’s new head coach in December. Also, the Bulldogs are in the market for a new strength and conditioning coach after Rick Court left the Bulldogs for a similar position at Maryland.
Diaz is returning to the city where his father was once the mayor. Diaz said his family ties made the Miami job one he couldn’t turn down.
“God blessed me with a chance to return home, to coach in my hometown and to reunite with family, Diaz said. “It is the kind of opportunity that comes along rarely in this business. It was simply too good to pass up. I can’t wait to help Coach Richt build a championship program at Miami.”