CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Hurricanes new-look coaching staff is starting to take shape.
Miami coach Mark Richt hired Manny Diaz to be the Hurricanes’ new defensive coordinator on Saturday, moving closer to completing his lineup of assistant coaches.
Diaz is a Miami native, the son of the city’s former mayor and spent this past season at Mississippi State.
“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.”
Richt said Diaz will lead a 4-3 scheme. Diaz was a graduate assistant at Florida State and North Carolina State, eventually became a position coach for the Wolfpack and has been defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State, Texas, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State.
“We knew it would take a very unique opportunity for us to consider leaving,” Diaz said. “God blessed me with a chance to return home, to coach in my hometown and to reunite with family. It is the kind of opportunity that comes along rarely in this business. It was simply too good to pass up.”
Richt still has some staff slots to fill, with an eye on finalizing those moves by the time the current dead period for recruiting ends in mid-January.
“We’re very close,” Richt said.
Richt declined to reveal if any decisions have been made regarding the status of offensive coordinator James Coley and now-former interim head coach Larry Scott, both of whom have expressed a desire to remain with the Hurricanes.
And one of Richt’s moves has met with less-than-unanimous approval, that being the decision to replace longtime strength coach Andreu Swasey.
Former Miami players, including San Diego Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, and former Hurricanes player and assistant coach Micheal Barrow both took to Twitter in recent days to express their disappointment with the Swasey move. Swasey was part of 14 bowl trips with the Hurricanes and has long been one of the team’s most popular coaches.
Richt, who had been the coach at Georgia for the past 15 seasons, said the decision on Swasey was “very difficult.”
“He’s a very good coach, very well respected and I respect him as well,” Richt said. “But sometimes when there’s transition there’s people that you have a comfort level with, that you know what you’re getting.
“And there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I have a lot of respect for coach and what he’s done for this university, but I do feel comfortable that we’re bringing in some outstanding people who will get the job done.”
Richt was hired to replace Al Golden, who was fired midway through his fifth season. Richt graduated from Miami in 1982, having been a backup quarterback for the Hurricanes under Howard Schnellenberger.
He said he wasn’t worried about juggling the responsibilities of filling a staff while trying to lock up his first Miami recruiting class.
“If you’ve got coordinators and kind of covered the gamut, you don’t necessarily have to have everybody by the time we go on the road again,” Richt said. “That’s my goal, but I want to be comfortable and have peace that I’m doing the right thing.”
Richt previously revealed the hirings of four coaches — running backs coach Thomas Brown, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, special teams coordinator Todd Hartley and offensive assistant Jon Richt, the head coach’s son.
Brown will also have the title of co-offensive coordinator, with Mark Richt widely expected to also share in that role.
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