Both came from far away.
Collins came to Penn State with 24 years of coaching experience under his belt.
During that time, Collins, a native of Sutherlin, Oregon, coached in that state, as well as South Dakota, Idaho, Utah, the state of Washington and even Vienna, Austria, where he was the defensive coordinator of the Austrian Football League’s Vienna Vikings.
None of those places are near State College.
Although Collins may not have been used to Pennsylvania, he, his wife, Mandi, and daughters Kayla, Mackenzie, Kylee and Mackenna are used to moving.
Moving can be scary, and not liking new surroundings can lead to misery for a family.
But the Collins family loves State College.
“I have four daughters,” Collins said with a chuckle at Penn State’s media day Saturday. “So that’s unique in itself, right there. Four daughters, and we work with 100 sons, 100-plus sons. But it’s been a great place to live. You always worry about transition when you’re moving your family. My girls have loved it here. My wife loves it here.”
Collins’s hometown has a population of fewer than 9,000 people, and although that’s much smaller than State College, Collins sees the two places as “similar in a lot of ways.”
“We relate to it,” he said.
Of Collins’s four daughters, only Kayla– who finished her first year of college this spring and is working in State College this summer– has graduated from high school.
The other three are going through the area’s school system, one Stacy Collins called “unbelievable.”
Being in Pennsylvania also allows the Collins family to visit places they previously couldn’t go.
“It’s been great to be along the east coast and go out and be able to see things and do things with my family,” Stacy Collins said.
Unlike Collins, Manny Diaz doesn’t have any daughters; instead, three sons.
But like Collins, Diaz grew up far away from Pennsylvania.
He was born and raised in Miami and went to college at Florida State.
Since beginning his coaching career in 1998– the same year Collins started his– Diaz has coached in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.
After a rocky ending to his time at Miami, where he spent three years as defensive coordinator and three more as head coach, Diaz came to State College in December.
Although that’s just a little different than coming to Florida in December, the South Florida native survived.
“I made it through my first winter,” Diaz said. “So I’ve got that badge.”
In the months since, Diaz, like Collins, has grown to love State College, and Diaz has noticed the potential future Nittany Lions who love the place, too.
“It’s amazing; the best compliment I can give the town is what happens when recruits come here,” Diaz said. “They’re just blown away. This place just sparkles, obviously, in official visit season.”
Diaz also appreciates the new names and faces that he’s gotten to know.
“A community is made up of people, not things,” Diaz said. “So it’s been a really good transition. It’s made it very easy for myself to feel at home here.”