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Miami fires Manny Diaz, announces hire of Mario Cristobal hours later

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  • Manny Diaz
    Manny Diaz
    American football coach
  • Mario Cristobal
    American college football player, professional football player, college football coach, offensive lineman

Miami has moved on from Manny Diaz, opening the door for Mario Cristobal to come back from Oregon.

Diaz was informed of his dismissal during a Monday morning meeting with Miami's president, sources told Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel. Diaz, the son of a former Miami mayor, was given three seasons with the Hurricanes before the school — which currently does not have an athletic director but is close to landing Dan Radakovich from Clemson — opted to go in another direction.

That next direction was Cristobal, the Miami native who posted a 35-13 record and won two Pac-12 titles in four seasons at Oregon. Cristobal played at Miami, coached at Miami and is one of the nation's best at recruiting South Florida. His hire became official Monday afternoon, mere hours after the university announced Diaz's firing. 

“Mario’s legacy as a student-athlete at the U is well established. And the standard for competitive excellence that he and his teammates helped establish is one to which we continue to aspire. Our selection, however, was not one based in nostalgia for a proud past, but rather in a bold vision for a promising future," Miami president Julio Frenk said. 

Cristobal informed Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens of his decision to leave Eugene on Monday morning.

“My family and I are excited to return home to the University of Miami, which has been so instrumental in shaping me as a person, player, and coach," Cristobal said. "This program has an unparalleled tradition and an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t wait to compete for championships and help mold our student-athletes into leaders on and off the field who will make our University, our community, and our loyal fan base proud.”

Miami pursued Cristobal while Diaz was still employed

Miami's pursuit of Cristobal was not a secret even while Diaz remained employed by the school and also was out on the road recruiting for the school. 

“We are grateful to Coach Diaz for his many contributions to our campus community and to his native South Florida, and for the strong leadership and exemplary character he exhibited during his tenure at the University,” Miami president Julio Frenk said in a statement. “We wish him and his family the very best as they move forward.

Diaz, whose buyout is reportedly in the $8 million range, compiled a 21-15 record over his three years as head coach. He was hired in December 2018 after Mark Richt retired. Diaz, the DC for the Hurricanes for three seasons, had already taken the Temple job, but was brought back to Miami only two weeks after Richt’s announcement.

Miami head coach Manny Diaz walks on the field before an NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami head coach Manny Diaz walks on the field before an NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami closed Diaz’s first season in embarrassing fashion with consecutive losses to Florida International, Duke and Louisiana Tech. To get things turned around in 2020, Diaz hired Rhett Lashlee to run the offense and added D’Eriq King to play quarterback. It paid off as the Hurricanes moved into the top 10 amid an 8-1 start before closing the year with two losses.

King got hurt in the 2020 bowl game and then again early in 2021 as the team started 2-4. With King out, the Hurricanes pivoted to Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback. He had some early struggles, but he and the Miami offense put up big numbers as the season progressed.

The Hurricanes won five of six to close out the regular season to get to 7-5 entering bowl play. That wasn’t enough for the Miami brass to keep Diaz around for 2022.

Instead, Cristobal is next in line and it's his task to revive a Miami program desperate to recapture the glory days of decades past. 

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