The college football coaching carousel won’t stop spinning. Coming off a frustrating 7-5 season that saw them lose to Virginia, North Carolina and Florida State, among other ACC afterthoughts, the University of Miami has fired head football coach Manny Diaz ahead of the team’s Sun Bowl matchup December 31st against Washington State. Diaz, who served as defensive coordinator under the Canes’ previous coach Mark Richt, lasted just three seasons in Coral Cables, compiling a 21-15 record over that span.
It’s been a while since the U was on top, last winning the National Championship in 2001. Once among the nation's preeminent college football powers, Miami has fallen on hard times, dropping 10 of its last 11 bowl games while appearing in just one conference championship since joining the ACC in 2004. For Diaz, the writing’s been on the wall since athletic director Blake James’ ouster last month.
As reported Sunday by Mike Ryan of Meadowlark Media and The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Diaz will be replaced by Mario Cristobal, who played for Miami as an all-conference offensive tackle from 1988-92. A Miami native, the 51-year-old served as a grad assistant under coach Butch Davis from 1998-2000 before returning to the school as a tight ends and offensive line coach from 2004-06. Cristobal holds a 62-60 career coaching record over 10 seasons for FIU and Oregon, earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors for the Ducks in 2019.
Known as a strong recruiter, Cristobal will be tasked with turning around a program that has largely squandered its local talent, with native sons Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Dalvin Cook (Florida State) and Marquise Brown (Oklahoma) all opting to play their college football elsewhere. Cristobal’s Cuban heritage should also endear him to the Canes’ Latino fan base, though that was also true of Diaz, who never met expectations in Miami.
Cristobal leaving Oregon, where he won Pac-12 titles in 2019 and 2020, for the U is the latest twist in what has been an unusually chaotic coaching cycle with Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley leaving A-list programs for new gigs at LSU and USC, respectively. Despite his past success, Cristobal is limping into his new job after losing two of his last three games at Oregon including Friday’s Pac-12 Championship against Utah.