January 5, 2011 5:18:00 PM
Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has accepted the same position with the Texas Longhorns.
Diaz, who spent one season in Starkville, will replace Will Muschamp, who recently accepted the head coach job at Florida.
Diaz, along with wife Stephanie, toured the Texas campus Tuesday and met with UT officials after receiving a call about the job Monday night.
"It came out of nowhere," Diaz said today. "I had never made any advances to Texas or any other places for that matter. I came back from the Gator Bowl like everybody else, just looking forward to next year."
Diaz said Texas was "one of two or three" places in the country he would''ve have left for to take over as defensive coordinator. Any other options he would have entertained would have been closer to his native Miami, Fla.
"It''s always exciting to go to a new place, but it''s always very heartbreaking to leave," Diaz said, "but it''s very important for everybody to understand that just because I leave that doesn''t derail in any shape or form what''s laid into place here."
Texas has not released financial details of Diaz''s deal.
Diaz spent four seasons at Middle Tennessee before joining head coach Dan Mullen''s staff as co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach this season.
He thanked Mullen for giving him the opportunity to coach in the Southeastern Conference.
"He brought me into the SEC and onto this stage," Diaz said. "I''ll be forever grateful for that."
Texas head coach Mack Brown said through a school-issued release he was impressed by Diaz''s "modernized" defensive schemes, and added the 36-year-old received glowing praise from other people in college football.
"After an extensive search, including conversations with head coaches and offensive coordinators around the country, Manny''s name continued to come up," Brown said. "He''s a bright, young coach who brings a lot of energy to our program. Manny''s been a tremendous staff person everywhere he has been, and he will fit in perfectly with our guys here. 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."
Diaz made $260,000 in his only season in Starkville.
Muschamp made $907,000 his final season in Austin.
MSU assistant coaches are set to receive raises following Mullen''s agreement to a new four-year, $10.6 million deal last week.
Athletics director Scott Stricklin didn''t answer a text message about whether Diaz being courted by Texas was hurrying his pace in finalizing deals for Mullen''s assistants.
While in Jacksonville for the 2011 Gator Bowl, Stricklin said the ceiling on assistants'' extensions is "a moving target."
Stricklin emphasized MSU being a place where coordinators and position coaches could grow their careers, both at MSU and by moving on to jobs with more responsibility at other schools.
When asked about MSU''s chance to present a counter-offer, Diaz said he''d already decided to accept the TExas job.
"This was not a competition," Diaz stressed. "Mississippi State always holds a very special place in my heart. There''s not an issue here in terms of what they could and could not do. This was just about Texas being a very special and unique place, and that''s more what this is about."
When reached Tuesday about the possibility of Diaz leaving, Mullen responded with a text message stating that due to a new program policy, he wouldn''t comment on non-MSU related business.
"That applies to whole staff," Mullen said in the text. "Too many distractions with us in dec (December)."
Diaz helped lead MSU''s defense to a drastic turnaround this season, finishing 22nd nationally in scoring defense (19.85 points per game) and 17th in the country in tackles for a loss. The Bulldogs also finished 17th nationally in rushing defense.
In 2009, MSU''s defense finished 71st in the country in scoring defense, 62nd in rushing defense and 89th in tackles for a loss.
MSU''s defense held the Cam Newton-led Auburn offense to 17 points -- the Tigers'' lowest point output this season.
Diaz''s credentials were strengthened after the Bulldogs'' 52-14 win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
MSU held the Wolverines to their second-lowest point total of the season and held quarterback Denard Robinson, the only player in NCAA history to pass for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,500 in the same season, to a season-low 59 rushing yards.
"The first day I got here, I said the credit should all go to the players," Diaz said. "They''re the ones that tackled Cam Newton and Denard Robinson. They''re the ones that bought into the system and asked them to do what we needed to do."
Diaz''s departure means the Bulldogs will have a fourth different defensive boss in four years, following Ellis Johnson (2007); Charlie Harbison (2008); Carl Torbush (2009); and Diaz this season.
Johnson, who helped lead the Bulldogs to the ''07 Liberty Bowl, left following the season to take the same job at South Carolina. Harbison wasn''t retained once former head coach Sylvester Croom resigned following the ''08 season, and Torbush left after Mullen''s first year to join Kansas head coach Turner Gill''s staff as defensive coordinator.
Current MSU co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Chris Wilson would be an obvious choice to move up. A possible promotion would help stabilize the current recruiting crop, though there''s been no official word from MSU regarding Diaz''s replacement.
"There''s three really good defensive coaches on the staff right here (at MSU)," Diaz said. "As much as I would loved to be here and be a part of the continued success at this program, I don''t have any doubt that Coach Mullen will replace me with somebody as good or better. The ship will sail on."
The Bulldogs also are exploring options for a new wide receivers coach following Mark Hudspeth becoming head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Graduate assistant Angelo Mirando, who has ties to Mullen while both were at Florida, coached MSU''s wideouts during Gator Bowl preparations.
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
ken t commented at 1/5/2011 6:45:00 PM:
Good Luck Manny! Hate to see you go so soon. Now for a little offense: How about let's go get Denard Robinson to transfer to MSU and light up the scoreboard in 2012 & 2013??
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