Duke names 'grateful and humbled' Manny Diaz as new football coach

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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Duke introduces Manny Diaz as head football coach
The former NC State assistant and Miami head coach is now in charge of the Duke sidelines.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke announced late Thursday that it has hired Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz as its head coach.

Diaz replaces Mike Elko, who left after two successful seasons to become head coach at Texas A&M.

"As our process unfolded, it became abundantly clear that Manny Diaz is the right fit for Duke University and we couldn't be more excited to welcome Manny, Stephanie, and their family into the Duke community," said Nina King, Director of Athletics. "Manny's previous experiences have prepared him for this opportunity, and he is, quite simply, an outstanding football coach who will capitalize on the positive momentum of this program. An elite communicator and collaborator, Manny possesses the dynamic ability to cultivate impactful relationships with internal and external constituents surrounding a successful football program. As Duke's head football coach, I am confident that Manny will lead the young men in our program to reach and surpass their aspirations of achievement both on and off the field."

Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has been named head coach at Duke.
Barry Reeger

The move marks a return for Diaz to the Atlantic Coast Conference as well as the state of North Carolina. In addition to three seasons as Miami's head coach, he spent six seasons on Chuck Amato's staff from 2000-05 at North Carolina State, about 20 miles from Duke's campus in Durham.

Diaz, 49, went 21-15 at Miami from 2019-21 while reaching two bowl games in his only head-coaching stint. He also went 16-9 in ACC play, but the school fired him on the same day it hired current coach Mario Cristobal in an attempt to hasten a return to the national elite.

"I am thrilled to welcome Manny Diaz as the new head coach of Duke Football," Duke President Vincent E. Price said. "He is an experienced coach with a strong track record of success, deep knowledge of the ACC, and an exciting vision for the future of our program. I am confident our student-athletes will continue to achieve tremendous success on the field and in the classroom under his leadership, and I look forward to welcoming Manny and his family to the Bull City."

Manny Diaz was fired at Miami despite going 21-15 from 2019-21 while reaching two bowl games.
Wilfredo Lee

Diaz has spent the last two seasons with the Nittany Lions both as coordinator and linebackers coach. His defense finished in the top 20 of the FBS rankings in total and scoring defense in 2022, and stands at No. 1 in total defense (223.3 yards) and No. 3 in scoring defense (11.4) this season as Penn State (10-2) prepares to face Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.

"We are grateful and humbled for this opportunity and could not be more excited to be the head football coach at Duke University," Diaz said. "I'd like to give a special thanks to Dr. Price and Nina for their trust in me and our family as well as a true commitment to this program. Duke University is an elite institution in every facet, and we are excited to be a part of it. I'm beyond excited to get to work."

READ MORE: Duke looks to keep momentum going under new coaching hire

Diaz also had stops as defensive coordinator at Miami, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, Texas and Middle Tennessee.

During his time with the Wolfpack, Diaz was a graduate assistant (2000-01) before being promoted to assistant coach in charge of the linebackers (2002-03) and safeties and special teams (2004-05). Diaz began his coaching career at his alma mater Florida State (1998-99) as a graduate assistant.

Elko's departure after 16 wins in two seasons marked an unusually short coaching tenure in Durham.

The last time a Duke coach stayed three or fewer seasons came when Steve Spurrier left for Florida after a 1987-89 run that included the program's last ACC title in his final season. Elko and Spurrier are the only Duke coaches to stay three or fewer years since 1925, spanning the Blue Devils' time in the Southern Conference before becoming a charter ACC member in 1953.

Elko won nine games and a bowl in his debut season, then guided Duke to a seven-win regular season with a weekend win against Pittsburgh. This year's team opened with a rout of preseason ACC favorite Clemson, cracked the AP Top 25 amid a 4-0 start and even hosted ESPN's "College GameDay" for the first time in football - after multiple visits for the storied men's basketball program - ahead of a ranked-vs-ranked matchup against Notre Dame.

Duke (7-5) is set to face Troy in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 23.

This marks the third hire for one of the school's marquee programs in King's nearly three years as athletic director, following Elko's arrival and Jon Scheyer's ascension as the designated successor to Mike Krzyzewski when the Hall of Fame basketball coach retired in 2022.

Diaz is married to the former Stephanie Cerow of Melbourne, Florida, and they are the parents of three boys: Colin, Gavin and Manny.

The Associated Press contributed.