clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Manny Diaz Hire: Beyond the Numbers

New, 11 comments

A lot of fans had mixed reactions about the hiring of new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Here is why everyone should get on board the Manny train.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

As soon as Manny Diaz's name was brought up as a potential hire to replace Geoff Collins, a lot of fans voiced some of their concerns.

A lot of those concerns made a great deal of sense. There's the fact that Diaz really struggled in a state loaded with talent such as Texas. There's the fact that he had several NFL players on his defense his one year here in Starkville, which was a big reason for their success. There's the fact that he's been here once already, and you're not bringing any fresh blood into the program. Finally, there's the fact that he bolted for a bigger school and more money the first chance he got, so what's going to stop him from doing it again?

Now that the Diaz hire is official, everyone will have to get over their worries. Like it or not, the man is coming to Starkville. The best thing everyone can do now is accept it and hope for the best. To those of you who are not happy with the hire, I'm going to try and convince you why Manny Diaz is the perfect man for the job.

I'm not going to throw all of those stats at you that you've seen a thousand times or anything like that. Diaz put together a good defense his only year in Starkville, struggled at Texas, and then helped Louisiana Tech lead the country in turnovers this season. That's about all you need to know, as I'm sure you already do.

What I'm going to do is explain why from a schematic and personality standpoint, Diaz is a great fit.

First and foremost, Diaz is a competitor. He's a fireball of energy on the field that never stops running around, never stops coaching, never stops motivating. Geoff Collins had some of those attributes as well, but Diaz takes it to another level. If you don't believe me, check out the video below.

When is the last time you saw a coach wear cleats on the practice field? Probably never. Diaz doesn't only demand 100 percent from his players, but he practices what he preaches. He gives his very best as a coach, and that is easy to see.

Not only that, but the guys love playing for him. He is what you would call a player's coach. He is always coming up with new ways to get through to his players in a way that they will grasp what he is teaching them. It turns out he uses some pretty good analogies in the process.

It wasn't only at Texas. Ask anybody from that 2010 Mississippi State team how they felt about playing for Manny, and they'll tell you they loved him. Former cornerback Johnthan Banks expressed his excitement in the re-hiring of Diaz on twitter soon after the announcement.

It doesn't stop with the players. Coaches love his personality as well. LA Tech coach Skip Holtz said he felt like his best recruiting job was landing Manny Diaz. Holtz said "When I left him at the NCAA coaches convention, I said I don't care if I have to get on a plane every day. I went full speed because that's the guy I wanted."

Dan Mullen appears to have that same love for Diaz. We all know Dan's personality, and I don't think there are very many people out there he would be willing to re-hire after they left the program for another defensive coordinator job once already. His relationships with his defensive coordinators have been shaky at times because he expects a lot. Mullen never wanted Diaz to leave in the first place. I think that's pretty obvious since he decided to bring him back.

Speaking of Mullen's personality, there's another reason why this was a good hire. Not everyone has the easiest time working for him. At least, that's how it appears from the outside. Coach Diaz has been here once already and is used to working with Dan Mullen. Bringing in a new guy certainly would have presented some challenges.

As far as what he'll bring on game day, coach Diaz is exactly what the doctor ordered. He's aggressive, he blitzes in unconventional ways, and his defenses live in the backfield.

I'm a big believer in the reason for State's downfall on defense this year was that they became too conservative. While they had a good number of sacks, they didn't put consistent pressure on quarterbacks for an entire game. They certainly had the players to do it, but the scheme wasn't aggressive enough. Collins became too comfortable with rushing four linemen and playing base defense.

As much criticism as the secondary received, part of the reason for the big passing plays was not enough pressure on the quarterback. That will be improved with Diaz running the show.

This defense appeared lifeless the latter part of 2014, and what they need is somebody like Diaz to re-energize them. They need to find that confidence again and recognize their true potential. There are playmakers at every level of the defense that have a chance to be great.

Say what you want about Diaz having countless NFL players on his 2010 MSU defense. He was a crucial part of that season.

There have been several defenses with NFL players over the years that didn't play great as a whole. Whether it be offense, defense, or special teams, a unit is only as good as the coach that is leading the charge.

Diaz's body of work speaks for itself. Outside of his second season at Texas during the downfall of Mack Brown, his defenses have produced good numbers. Fans that wanted a better hire are either unrealistic or only concerned with recruiting.

I may be proved absolutely wrong in two years, but as it sits today, Manny Diaz is the perfect fit for Mississippi State.