By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has met with officials at the University of Texas about joining the Longhorns coaching staff.
Sources close the Starkville Daily News have confirmed Bulldogs first-year coach got on a flight that departed from Bryan Field in Starkville at 8:37 a.m. Tuesday and landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at 10:10 a.m. That same charted plane would originate and go back to Tulsa, Okla.
Bulldawgjunction.com was the first to report the news of mutual interest between Diaz and the University of Texas.
The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Tuesday that Diaz was meeting with UT officials including head coach Mack Brown to discuss their current defensive coordinator vacancy at Texas and Orangebloods.com reported Tuesday Diaz and his wife Stephanie were spotted on the Austin campus.
Diaz, 36, would 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.
Mississippi State officials would not comment Tuesday when asked specifically about the situation but did say Diaz, like many MSU coaches, were out of the office.
Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen would not comment on whether Diaz was interviewing with Texas citing team policy.
“We have a policy we only talk about MSU. We don’t talk about other jobs,” Mullen said Tuesday in a text message response. “That applies to the whole staff. Too many distractions with us in December.”
Diaz, who just completed his first season at Mississippi State as the defensive coordinator, came to Starkville after four years of heading up the defense at Middle Tennessee State.
Diaz, who was brought in after Carl Torbush left Starkville to join Kansas under its new head coach Turner Gill, was brought to Mississippi State last January along with defensive line coach Chris Wilson from Oklahoma.
Diaz, who makes $260,000 per year at State, led an MSU defense that was third in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense and rushing defense during the 2010 season that saw the program earn a 9-4 record and win its first New Year’s Day bowl game since 1941.
“There's two important things about this job,” Diaz said last January when he was hired. “First is people, because you don't win because of the color of your jerseys or the size of your stadium. Second is of course, the ability to win. We work awfully hard as coaches but let's face it - only have 12 contests in 365 days of a year. I make no secret about how I like to win so there seems like a great opportunity to do some winning in Starkville, Mississippi.”
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.
“We're a big and physical defense,” Diaz said after the bowl game. “Michigan asks a lot of questions of you and you better have all the answers.”
Diaz, a 1995 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.
Diaz has been involved in nine bowl games during his 11 years as a coach at the collegiate level.