Manny Diaz is concluding his first year as defensive coordinator on Rick Stockstill's staff at Middle Tennessee. Diaz, who also coaches the safeties, joined the Blue Raiders after spending the previous six years at N.C. State.
If his first stint as a coordinator is a glimpse into the future then the Blue Raider defense will have to be reckoned with for years to come. Diaz' defense broke the school record for quarterback sacks with 33 and set a new school mark in tackles for loss with 96 while leading the Sun Belt Conference in rushing defense and sacks. The 2006 unit, which allowed just 38 total points in the second half of SBC action, scored four touchdowns and produced four first team all-conference performers along with the National Defensive Player of the Week on October 30.
Diaz also aided in the development of all-conference performers Erik Walden, Damon Nickson, Tavares Jones, J. K. Sabb, and Justin Rainey in 2006. Walden set the single-season sack record and became Middle Tennessee's all-time leader in the category, and Nickson led the SBC in interceptions.
Diaz has been involved in eight bowl games during his nine years on the collegiate level and played a major role for one of the country's top-ranked defenses by coaching safeties in 2004 and 2005 and handling the linebackers in 2002 and 2003 for the Wolfpack.
In 2005, the Wolfpack finished eighth nationally in total defense, sixth in third down percentage, and 12th in scoring defense en route to a 7-5 record and a shutout win over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Diaz, who also served as special teams coordinator, saw his kickoff return unit finish fifth nationally, and his punt return team recorded four blocked kicks.
In his first year as safeties coach and special team's coordinator in 2004, N.C. State's defense finished the year as the top-ranked unit in the country in total defense by allowing just over 220 yards per game. The Wolfpack defense also held national powers Ohio State and Florida State to under 130 yards of total offense during the 2004 campaign. Diaz, who coached All-ACC performer and current New York Jet Andre Maddox, also had his punt return team block three kicks and take two returns for touchdowns.
The Miami, Fla., native handled the linebackers for N.C. State in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, the Wolfpack won the Tangerine Bowl and finished 7-5 with Diaz sharing play-calling duties for all 11 games. Diaz also made all the defensive calls during the bowl win over Kansas.
In his first year as a full-time coach, Diaz helped the Wolfpack to one of their best seasons ever: they finished 11-3 and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. Diaz, who coached All-ACC performer Dantonio Burnette, shared in the play-calling duties, and N.C. State ended the year ranked 14th nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. In back-to-back games against Florida State and Notre Dame, N.C. State did not allow an offensive touchdown.
Diaz, the 10th youngest coordinator in college football, spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons at N.C. State as a graduate assistant working primarily with the linebacking corps. During this time, the Wolfpack went to two bowl games and became the first ACC team to beat FSU in Tallahassee.
Diaz, whose father is serving his second term as mayor of the City of Miami, began his coaching career at Florida State in 1998, working alongside defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews for two seasons. During his stint, the Seminoles won a national championship in 1999 and were runners-up in 1998.
The 1995 Florida State graduate (B.S. in communications) is married to the former Stephanie Cerow and they have three sons, Colin, Gavin, and Manny. Diaz, who worked at ESPN from 1995 to 1997, was a Miami Herald Honorable Mention All-Dade County Scholar-Athlete for football, basketball, and baseball in 1991.