MSU's Diaz leaves for Texas
Manny Diaz has agreed to leave MSU as defensive coordinator to take the similar position at Texas. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
Manny Diaz has agreed to leave his defensive coordinator position at Mississippi State for the same job at the University of Texas.
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The Starkville Daily News was the first to confirm the news via a source close to the situation early Wednesday evening.
Diaz, who just completed his first and only season at Mississippi State, led a Bulldogs defense that was ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense and rushing defense in a 2010 campaign that saw the program earn a 9-4 record and win its first New Yearâ€™s Day bowl game since 1941.
"From my vantage point, it's exciting to get the new opportunity like I've been given but heartbreaking when you leave," Diaz said in a phone interview.
Diaz said he got a call after a recruiting visit Monday evening from Texas head coach Mack Brown that started the mutual interest in the open position.
"It all came very suddenly as they tend to happen in this profession and that's how it happened when I was hired at Mississippi State," Diaz said.
Diaz spent Tuesday in Austin, Texas, touring the campus of the University of Texas with his wife Stephanie, Brown and UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
Diaz inherits a defense that struggled last season as Texas suffered through first losing season since 1997.
"You don't get to be the defensive coordinator at Texas coming off a 5-7 season too often," Diaz said. "It's a very rare opportunity to right some wrongs quickly."
Diaz, who came to Starkville after Carl Torbush left to join Kansas under its new head coach Turner Gill, was hired by Mississippi State last January along with defensive line coach Chris Wilson from Oklahoma.
The Florida State University graduate, spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State and before spending six seasons working at North Carolina State for former head coach Chuck Amato. After spending three years at ESPN, Diaz began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater under legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden.
"It's important people understand I was very happy where I was and this is not a job I sought out," Diaz said. "In fact, there's probably three jobs in America I would've moved for and Texas was one of them. So when they called, I absolutely had to listen."
Diaz has been involved in nine bowl games during his 11 years as a coach at the collegiate level.
Diaz and his wife Stephanie returned in a private plane to Bryan Field in Starkville Wednesday at 12:21 p.m.
When the Starkville Daily News met him at the airport to ask about what his future plans were over the next few days, Diaz responded by saying 'in the next couple of days this whole thing will get sorted out one way or another.'
When asked for comment the last two days, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen cited a new team policy that restricts public comments about other schoolâ€™s coaching searches.
â€śWe have a policy we only talk about MSU," Mullen texted reporters Tuesday. "We donâ€™t talk about other jobs. That applies to the whole staff. Too many distractions with us in December.â€ť
After he and his wife left Bryan Field, they went to go meet with Mullen and Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin.
"I met with Scott face-to-face but had to speak with Dan on the phone because he was on the road recruiting," Diaz said. "Dan Mullen is the reason I am where I am. He brought me to this stage and let me do my thing."
Diaz will be replacing Will Muschamp, who was also the head coach in waiting at Texas, after he left the Longhorns program on Dec. 11 to become the next head coach at the University of Florida.
"Manny's a guy who has been involved in developing modernized schemes that have given coaches around the country problems," Texas' Brown said. "Very rarely did I talk to a person I trust who didn't bring Manny's name up. I think he's in the same mode of the great defensive coordinators we've had over the past several years at Texas."
Neither UT officials or Diaz would release the financial details of the agreement but Diaz was able to confirm to the Starkville Daily News he would not be receiving the 'head coach in waiting' tag that Muschamp was given during his time in Austin.
"That was a different deal and a different dynamic," Diaz said. "I just want to be the defensive coordinator at Texas and I'm not really a believer in that anyway."
Diaz made $260,000 per year at MSU and Muschamp's final yearly salary in Austin was $907,000.
Mississippi State's 2010 defense held seven opponents to 20 points or fewer including 17 points in a home loss to Auburn, which has the nation's fourth-ranked scoring offense and will play in the BCS National Championship Game Monday.
The Bulldogs held Michigan, the most dangerous offense in the Big Ten Conference, to just 342 yards of total offense (168 short of its season average) in a dominating 52-14 MSU victory in the 2011 Gator Bowl.
Mississippi State held Wolverines sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson to just 164 yards after the first quarter and just 5 yards rushing after that opening 15 minutes of play.
"I'll be forever grateful to the players because they're the ones that made the plays to get me this opportunity," Diaz said. "What bothers me the most is leaving the people of Starkville knowing there's something special going on here at Mississippi State."
With the hiring of Diaz today and defensive tackles coach Bo Davis Tuesday from Alabama, Texas' defensive staff for 2011 is set as Duane Akina returns as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach and Oscar Giles will be defensive ends coach.
"Manny's been a tremendous staff person everywhere he has been, and he will fit in perfectly with our guys here," Brown said. "When you add him and Bo (Davis) to Duane (Akina) and Oscar (Giles), that's a defensive staff I'm really excited about moving forward with."