- Sep 3, 2016
Muck Fack Brown
Holy shi+ wall of letters! What the hell is this, Grimey, the opening scene of a Star Wars movie?!???Both Manny Diaz and Mack Brown will be facing their second former cohort in as many games this weekend. For Diaz, he is facing his second former boss as he ran into Dan Mullen last week and former Texas head man Mack Brown this week. Brown bested his former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp in last week's tight win against South Carolina, and he now has Manny Diaz, who Brown fired as defensive coordinator just two games into the 2013 season, invading Chapel Hill with a vengeance. The coaching world is small, and the majority of coaches have worked with each other or have some sort of connection through the intertwined branches of the coaching trees across the country. So it's nothing new for familiar coaches to run into each other in this manner. Beyond that, in the cut throat results based business that is coaching, coaches get fired all the time. Sometimes justified. Sometimes not. To see a coach that fired you is common, and coaches will always downplay it. Both Diaz and Brown have done exactly that in this week. Both head coaches claim there were no hard feelings between the two after the firing. Diaz and Brown are professionals. I wouldn't expect anything else from the two. But as a human, having the chance to beat someone who told you that you were not good enough is always going to add a little extra fuel to the fire. Something feels different about this match up than the normal former coworker showdown. Diaz will never say it, but you have to expect that he has a little extra incentive to beat the tar out of the Heels and specifically Mack Brown. I welcome you to the matchup of the week: Manny vs. Mack.
Side note: Manny Diaz isn't the only guy seeing the man who fired him on Saturday. Stacey Searels, who was let go by Diaz along with the rest of the 2018 Miami offensive staff, is now coaching UNC's offensive line. That just adds another layer to this coaching duel this weekend.
This week's edition of Matchup of the Week is less of an analysis and more like story time. Lets take it back to where it all started. Manny Diaz was hired by Mack Brown as the Texas Longhorn defensive coordinator in January of 2011. In Diaz's first year at Texas, the defense ranked tops in the Big 12 in passing, rushing and total defense. Nationally the Horns came in 11th defensively despite facing high powered offenses week in and week out. The following year things seemed to take a sharp turn in the wrong direction for Diaz's unit. In 2012, Texas plummeted to 8th against the run allowing just under 200 yards per game, 5th in the Big 12 in total defense allowing 404 yards per game and allowed 29 points per game. The pass defense remained solid as it ranked 3rd in the conference. The Texas defense went from a really good group in 2011 to one of the worst defensive units statistically in Texas history. Despite the regression, it certainly wasn't enough to put Diaz's job in question yet. Then comes 2013. In the second game of the year the Longhorns take a trip to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars led by Bronco Mendenhall. Texas, who was a top 15 ranked team at the time, got smoked to the tune of a 40-21 loss. In the process, Diaz's defense allowed an abysmal 550 yards rushing on the ground to Taysom Hill and the gang. And there the Manny Diaz era at Texas comes to an abrupt end. "Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that," said Mack Brown after firing Diaz just hours after the loss in Utah. Did Diaz play a role in the horrendous performance of the Texas defense? Certainly. At the same time, it was also very clear with the way the situation was handled that Texas was on a steady decline under Brown, and he began to feel the heat and needed displace some of the negative attention from himself. Diaz appeared to be used by Brown as a scapegoat for Texas' struggles at the time. Mack Brown went on to step down from being the Head Coach at the University of Texas at the end of that 2013 campaign.
Fast forward 5 years later, and Diaz established himself as one of the top defensive minds in college football and has become a first time head coach at the University of Miami, and Mack Brown returns from a 5 year hiatus from coaching to begin his second stint at UNC. Both schools needed new energy injected into their respective football programs. Miami and UNC feel they have exactly that in Diaz and Brown. Diaz brings a young, edgy and innovative feel to the University of Miami sidelines. Brown brings a proven championship pedigree for the Heels and an eagerness to show that his best days are in fact not behind him. While this game may seem like a run in the mill Week 2 matchup in the ACC for some, this game can go a long way in continuing the early momentum that these two head man have created for their respective programs. Despite coming off a tight loss to the rival Gators, the Hurricanes left feeling optimistic about The New Miami and the direction of the program. But a win this week is paramount to continue that feeling. A loss could be a reminder that remnants of the "disease" Diaz likes to mention are still present. After Mack Brown's gritty win over the Gamecocks, he was brought to tears of joy in the post game interview like he'd won the Super Bowl. It's clear he's elated to be back on the sidelines and is excited about whats next for his Tar Heels. A loss would not be the end of the world for Brown and his program, and I doubt we'd see tears of sadness. However, it would certainly bring UNC back down to reality and remind them that there is still long way to go to rebuild a team coming off a 2-9 year.
There are certainly some important matchups on the field that will play a huge role in the game. Which young quarterback makes the fewest mistakes? Which team can run the ball consistently and help out their young signal callers? Can the Miami O-line hold up against the pass rush this time around? The UNC defensive backfield held South Carolina to 142 passing yards and reeled in 2 INT's in crucial moments, but how will they perform against a much more talented receiving corps? There is a ton of intrigue with the matchups between the lines, and I am not ignoring that. Not to mention, things usually get weird in Chapel Hill for the Canes regardless of the personnel on the field. I just feel this game is about the two coaches strutting the sidelines. This one is about Manny vs. Mack.
Final Score: Manny 35 Mack 17
Heard that. My bad. I totally agree. I’ll work on breaking it up better. I always appreciate the feedback!!Holy shi+ wall of letters! What the hell is this, Grimey, the opening scene of a Star Wars movie?!???
Love your stuff, but gonna need to grab a drink and a smoke and pull out the padded toilet seat for this one.
I appreciate it. And yeah I think getting fired can be a blessing in any profession. It keeps from getting complacent and reminds that there’s more work to do. In many ways, I feel the situation at Texas has propelled Diaz to be the kind of coach that he is today. But, whether there’s any real beef or not, it’s got to be a good feeling to be able to stick it to the guy who fired you.Good stuff, Grimey! Made it through, and I honestly don't think there are any real lasting hard feelings in this one. Mack did what he had to do at the time, and I think Manny knows that what he went through at UT was an invaluable learning experience that, while difficult at the time, is a huge part of what prepared him for the job and opportunity he has now.
As for Searles, that guy just keeps failing from one job to the next. His "word of the day" calendar probably just has the logo of the team he currently coaches for so he doesn't have to think too long about where he is when he wakes up in the morning. He can't be having hard feelings.
Keep up the great work!
Agreed. No doubt about it. And it's definitely a story line for the game that is going to get a lot of talk and press.I appreciate it. And yeah I think getting fired can be a blessing in any profession. It keeps from getting complacent and reminds that there’s more work to do. In many ways, I feel the situation at Texas has propelled Diaz to be the kind of coach that he is today. But, whether there’s any real beef or not, it’s got to be a good feeling to be able to stick it to the guy who fired you.