I'll continue to fan the Kirby Smart flames until the embers are as cold as Saban's heart.
From what I can gather, Smart has been targeted (duh?) which only assures us of one thing: rumors are rampant. Free 2-year subscription to BDB for the first commenter to link a message board entry containing a flight log. Something with more validity, the UberTwitterer David Pollack even says Smart will interview in the state of Georgia....
As nice as it would be to get Smart, our chances at the Bama DC are long...but a necessary step in the process regardless.
So why not look at other options as well. I'm sure you've seen lists out there. When/if Smart is eliminated as a candidate, I believe all bets are off. Coach Richt has a penchant for bringing in hires from nowhere. So who knows who this defensive savior will be...
Some of the names out there I'm really wary of. Others downright scare me (more on that tomorrow). But I kept hearing ($$) the name Manny Diaz and I was intrigued. I snooped around a little and here's what I found:
Diaz is finishing his first year as Middle Tennessee's DC and has made quite an impression. The MTSU defense racked up a school record 33 sacks and 96 tackles for loss. Although this season has been his first at the DC position, he's been a part of successful units in the past, namely at NC State where in '05 the Wolfpack was 8th nationally in total defense.
While in Raleigh, Diaz coached LBs, DBs and Safeties at various times and shared in some of the play-calling duties. At Middle Tennessee he coaches the safeties and LBs, according to his bio page.
His ties to Coach Richt are from FSU, where Diaz graduated in 1995. Diaz began his coaching career under Mickey Andrews and was a part of the Seminoles' run to a Nat'l Championship in 1999.
It appears Diaz recruits Florida and has strong ties to the Miami area, where his dad is the mayor.
The turnover margin was an achilles heel for the Dawgs this season. Meanwhile, Diaz's defense pounced on 14 fumbles and intercepted 17 passes. MTSU finished +11 in TO margin. In addition to the sacks and TFLs mentioned above, the Blue Raider defense broke up 46 passes and produced 27 QB hurries.
The Blue Raiders finished the season 9-3 and accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl where they will play Southern Miss on December 20th.
- Ties to Coach Richt
- Familiar with a recruiting region of need
- Could finish bowl game and stay in Louisiana to lend Dawgs a hand a week later (j/k...maybe??)
- history of success
- aggressive style could match well with young, raw talent in Athens
- would be relatively cheap**
- very young, 10th youngest coordinator in college football
- only one year xp as a DC in the Sun Belt conference
- could be a hard sell to fans
What do YOU think?
* all stats taken from CFBStats
** I really hesitate to throw that bullet in there, because I hope that money is not an issue in this search. And I feel that Diaz may be better than some of the names I have heard. Like I said, more on that tomorrow.