Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is now “the focus of Duke’s head coaching search” and is expected to decide one way or the other within 24 hours, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported Thursday morning.
Sources: Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has emerged as the focus of Duke’s head coaching search. A decision is expected in the next 24 hours. pic.twitter.com/f9p1RS4Ta3
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 7, 2023
The Athletic reported early last week that Diaz had interviewed for the job.
Diaz being a hot name during coaching search season is hardly a surprise.
For one, he was in charge of perhaps college football’s best defense in 2023. Penn State finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense and also had a strong unit in Diaz’s first season at Penn State (2022). That year ended with Penn State going 11-2, winning the Rose Bowl and finishing No. 7.
Despite all that success, Diaz wasn’t named one of the five finalists for the Broyles Award, presented annually to America’s top assistant coach.
Iowa DC Phil Parker ended up winning.
Another reason Diaz’s candidacy shouldn’t be a surprise is because he has head coaching experience, and in the ACC at that.
For three seasons, Diaz was the boss at the University of Miami. In that time, “The U” went 21-15 overall and 16-9 in the ACC, winning more conference games than any ACC team besides Clemson, which was then a perennial national powerhouse. Manny Diaz ended up being fired by Miami in controversial fashion, and within the week, he was Penn State’s new DC, succeeding current Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry.
Penn State already knows it will be playing the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss Dec. 30 without one of its best defensive players in Chop Robinson. Will it be without its coordinator as well? America might be finding out quite soon.