Greg Cote: Will 7-5 end after rout at Duke save Manny Diaz? Here is his narrow path to survival. | Sports


MIAMI – There may still be a small road to survival for Manny Diaz. That’s all Saturday meant, but, to him, that was it.

The path is narrow, uphill and strewn with pitfalls and dangers. Few bets on the odds would bet he would find a way out. But there’s still that flickering pin of light at the end – the chance, just the slightest chance, that Diaz could still save his job as a University of Miami football coach.

We have to get everything in place here, of course, because all of this could be moot, the decision to leave Diaz already taken behind closed doors.

What we can be sure of is that if there was any hope left for Diaz, a loss to Duke on Saturday would have ended him entirely, unequivocally.

For a coach on the precipice, a loss to Duke is almost always the perfect final push.

Miami won, 47-10. It was superficial. The Canes were favorites with 21 points. Still, after a slow start, 10-3 at the start, UM completely dominated behind quarterback Tyler Van Dyke (again) and strong, solid defense.

The Hurricanes finished their regular season 7-5 and are still fighting. Fight for their own bruised pride. To fight, at first glance, to save the work of their trainer.

All Diaz can do is ignore the outside noise and stay in business-as-usual mode.

“Attack recruiting,” he answered a question about what happened next. “On the road tomorrow. I’ll be in a few houses. It’s a 2.5 week sprint for [early] day of signing.

Does he feel secure in his employment status?

“I feel safe in the way this football team has played together,” he said. “All I was told was, ‘Hey let’s go win a soccer game.’ Everything else is out of my control. All I know is that every week I have been on a week long mission.

Diaz is already formulating plans for a pre-bowling training program. His work continues, although many or most assume that he is about to hit a wall suddenly.

It was a cinch, Saturday was in Durham, NC.

Van Dyke, the young phenomenon who declared himself the QB of the Canes to go forward, had 381 yards and three touchdowns. It was his sixth straight game with over 300 yards and three or more touchdowns, the longest streak of any FBS passers in the country.

“It’s been a crazy year. Lots of ups and downs, ”he said.

He intended to get important UM records for two of his receivers – and he did. Mike Harley is the new record holder for most career catches, and Charleston Rambo is now for most catches and most yards received in a season.

“In the history books,” Rambo said.

Miami has notched a winning record for 2021 as it now heads to an as yet undetermined bowl game.

Earlier in the week, the program suffered a loss with news that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee would be leaving to become SMU’s new head coach.

“I would be very happy for Coach Lashlee,” said Van Dyke. “He deserves it.”

All of this is known.

It’s still not:

Will Diaz be back? Or be made redundant?

Life on the left in his UM career? Or the training of the dead man?

With the sacking of sporting director Blake James last week and the search for his replacement, the new AD may demand to make a new coach his first imprint. Or could UM hire with the understanding that Diaz gets another year? Everything remains to be determined.

Saturday simply meant that Diaz’s narrow path to survival could remain.

If they let him drag into the bowl game, that would be a big sign that the decision to oust him is not yet certain. He should then win the bowl game, you think, given that Diaz’s 0-2 record at UM has contributed to the school’s 1-10 slippage in playoff games since 2008.

I think if Diaz trains and wins the bowl to finish 8-5 he could have built an argument for one more year, a fourth season.

The Miami players haven’t left the coach or the season, like what got Dan Mullen fired by the Florida Gators last week.

“If they weren’t all in it, you would see it,” Diaz said. “This team is united.

It’s more than an excuse to say that injuries have hit the Canes hard this season.

It’s a fact that two wins were won against North Carolina State No.18 and Pitt No.17, and three ACC losses were eight points combined.

By the five national championship standard, the standard any MU coach must accept, 8-5 would not be cause for celebration. But it’s not an absolute disaster either. Maybe it was, but Diaz and the Canes fought back from a 2-4 start, it’s no small feat.

Of course, the idea that Diaz might still have some life in his career at UM rests on the idea that Miami can’t do better than him; that is, he will not pay what it takes to clearly move to the head coach stage.

Want to spend a lot to get Mario Cristobal out of Oregon? Or Lane Kiffin from Ole Miss? Do it and I’ll be at the top of the list writing, “Thanks for your service, Manny, but The U just got better, instantly. “

But if UM is cheap and is content to change for the fun of it, hire someone with no proven track record – then the case to give Diaz one more year seems plausible.

Over the years, pretty much every team here, I’ve been asked, “Should such and such be fired?” On the contrary, I am generally told. My answer is almost always, “Who’s next? »Will it be better? Is it an upgrade?

I won’t say Diaz deserves to be fired until I find out who the replacement is.

I will say that ending a regular season on a 5-1 streak – that would be 6-1 with a bowl win – is not an end of the game that usually leads to a change.

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