CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Perhaps luckily for Miami students, Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz is not in charge of how the university’s academic side hands out grades.
With a promise that his players will spend the next four weeks competing every day for their on-field jobs, Diaz’s first training camp as Miami’s coach opened Friday night. The Miami native was hired Dec. 30, hours after Mark Richt retired — a move that opened the door for his defensive coordinator, who had already taken over as Temple’s head coach, to spurn the Owls and return to the Hurricanes.
“I’m not against the grading system, but if you really want to win, there are two grades — there’s an A-plus and there’s an F,” Diaz said. “You’re either all the way right or all the way wrong. … And we are going to strive to be all the way right in everything we do.”
It was the first practice unlike any other for Miami: A 7 p.m. start on a Friday night, done so the school could invite 1,000 fans to grab free tickets and come see the normally closed proceedings. The open practice was announced Wednesday; tickets were gone within a few hours and school officials took plenty of calls from fans who missed out on the tickets and were desperate for any other way to watch. Most had to leave after about 45 minutes, once lightning started popping up a few miles from campus.
Diaz likes to say this is ‘The New Miami.’
For starters, there’s no starting quarterback. N’Kosi Perry split the starting role with now-graduated Malik Rosier last year, Tate Martell transferred in from Ohio State and Jarren Williams redshirted last year while drawing rave reviews from those who saw what he was able to do in practices.
Diaz hasn’t said when he’ll decide on a starter. And he isn’t dropping any hints on when he’ll announce the winner of that competition, either.
There were no state secrets offered — no schemes for Florida are going in yet, no real clues on who will start and who won’t be coming from the first practice. But there was a clear sense of what Diaz will want to see when it comes to being all the way right, that difference between getting an A-plus or an F on a given play.
“If you go watch all 128 teams practice over the next three weeks, everyone is running the same drills, everyone is doing the same thing,” Diaz said. “It’s the level of accountability and the attention to detail and learning how to do it … that’s what sets people apart.”