Manny Diaz, a rising star in the coaching ranks, completed his fourth year as defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Diaz, who spent six years at N.C. State before joining the Blue Raiders, also coached the linebackers for the past two seasons after mentoring the safeties his first two years.
In four years under Diaz, the Blue Raider defense has been one of the most disruptive in the Sun Belt. The 2009 campaign was more of the same, as Middle Tennessee posted new school records in tackles for loss (112) and sacks (38) to rank second and sixth in the nation, respectively, in each category. Under Diaz, the Blue Raiders earned the top three season totals for both tackles for loss and sacks at Middle Tennessee.
The 2009 Blue Raider defense was one of the Sun Belt's top two units as they led the league in pass defense efficiency, sacks, tackles for loss and forced turnovers, and interceptions. The unit also produced the SBC's Defensive Player of the Year in Chris McCoy and seven all-conference performers.
As coach of the linebackers, he saw seniors Cam Robinson and Danny Carmichael lead the team in tackles with 113 and 94, respectively. Carmichael was second in the nation in forced fumbles with six while Robinson became just the third triple digit tackler in the I-A era. Both earned all-conference accolades.
After a record-breaking year in 2006, the Blue Raiders led the league in sacks and tackles for loss in 2007 before ranking 14th nationally in tackles for loss in 2008, and first in 2009. Overall, the unit has also produced 17 all-conference players during that span and put up three of the top four fewest yards allowed averages at Middle Tennessee in the FBS era.
In his first year, Diaz' defense broke the school record for quarterback sacks with 36 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 nine bowl games during his 11 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 team's 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 former 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, one of the youngest coordinators 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 served two terms as mayor of the City of Miami from 2001 to 2009, 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.