CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James was not ready to make any pronouncements for how this season would play out for coach Manny Diaz, who has come under fire for a 2-4 start.
Asked whether Diaz was on the hot seat, James told ESPN.com, “I don’t know how you define hot seat. Every one of my coaches is evaluated by how they do and how their teams do. Obviously, this is a disappointing season. We’re six games in and we have six games left. Our focus is on doing everything we can to win our next six games.”
James also would not say whether he would make any in-season coaching changes.
“It’s too hard to look into the future,” James said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, again. I think everyone’s constantly being evaluated, and you make the decisions that you feel are best for the program.”
Miami went into the season as a preseason top-15 team with high expectations to challenge in the ACC’s Coastal Division. But after an opening loss to Alabama, Miami has struggled to find success, and losing quarterback D’Eriq King and a host of starters for the season to injury has only contributed to the situation. Still, the Hurricanes put themselves in position to win their last two games but lost on the final play of each, first to Virginia and then to North Carolina.
“I think Manny has done the things he needs to do to put things in place for Miami to win again, but you look at our last two games,” James said. “Two plays go a different way, we’re sitting at 2-0 in the Coastal. With that said, the reality is you’ve got to find ways to win those games, and we’re not winning those games. That’s what Manny is working on, getting us to that point. Obviously, we haven’t had the success that we want to have as a program, that our fan base expects us to have.”
Diaz, in his third season as Miami coach, was hired after Mark Richt retired following the 2018 season. He took over playcalling duties for the defense this season, but that unit has also taken criticism for poor tackling and missed plays.
He said earlier this week that he would play younger players on Saturday against No. 18 NC State, and has defended the direction of the program, believing he has recruited a talented young group of players to build around. But Miami also has a recruiting class currently No. 32 in the ESPN rankings for 2022. Fans have ratcheted up their criticism of the program in recent weeks, increasing the negativity surrounding the program.
“We got a lot of guys that have a lot of pride that want to win,” Diaz said Monday during his weekly news conference. “They’re not happy with the way the year’s gone. No one is happy with the way the year’s gone. So from the outside noise perspective, the outside noise can’t be any more upset than what’s going on in here. Here, we have a chance to do something about it.”
Even though the Hurricanes have played hard in the last two weeks, James said his ultimate evaluation will consider everything — including wins and losses.
“There’s a lot of things that go into evaluating, where are we with the team, the development, the growth, what are we seeing from the young people in the program, what are we doing in recruiting?” James said. “There’s a laundry list of things that’s part of the evaluation. Winning’s right at the top. And that’s something that’s always going to be something that we have to evaluate in our programs here at the University of Miami, and right now, we’re not winning enough.”
“We’re committed to winning as an institution,” he said. “So whatever that means it’s going to take, I have full confidence that’s the step our institution is going to take. Whether that’s from a financial decision on coaching salaries to financial decisions on what we need to do [to] operate as a program again, the institution is very committed to seeing this athletics program succeed at the highest level, and they’re committed to doing what it takes to compete with the very best.”