Dream sea­son for Diaz, fa­ther Hur­ri­canes de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, former Miami mayor cel­e­brate UM win streak.

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Matt Porter Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

CORAL GABLES — A se­cu­rity alarm sounded at a res­i­dence in the Miami sub­urb of Kendall West, near Miller Drive and 102nd Ave, around 10 p.m. Satur­day. Po­lice did not re­spond to the scene. No crime was re­ported.

How­ever, you might say the alarm was trig­gered by a theft.

“I talked to my mother, his Cuban grand­mother, this morn­ing,” Manny Diaz Sr. said by phone Sun­day. “She told me she got so ex­cited when (Tra­jan) Bandy got the Pick Six, she started jump­ing and scream­ing so loud that the alarm in the house went off.”

The Hur­ri­canes have been mak­ing that kind of noise lately, rid­ing the rau­cous en­vi­ron­ment at Hard Rock Sta­dium all the way to the top of the polls. The lat­est team to be chased away, fin­gers block­ing their ears: third-ranked Notre Dame, which was spanked by un­beaten Miami (9-0, 6-0) on the same day the Hur­ri­canes clinched a spot in the Dec. 2 ACC Cham­pi­onship Game.

It makes Diaz Sr., the former Miami mayor, won­der if real­ity is a dream.

His son, se­cond-year UM de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Manny Diaz, spent the first 18 years of his coach­ing ca­reer in places like Raleigh, N.C. and Austin, Texas. Now he’s home. In Miami’s cham­pi­onship days of the 1980s, Diaz Sr. was a young lawyer who shared cus­tody of his son. They bonded over the Canes, and rarely missed a game in the Or­ange Bowl.

Now, the younger Diaz has Miami’s de­fense look­ing like those dom­i­nant units of the past. And his fa­ther is watch­ing it all from the side­line.

“Oh, my God,” Diaz Sr. said, paus­ing. “I have a hard time not chok­ing up ev­ery time, you know? It’s just so ex­cit­ing. I’m so proud of him. The whole fam­ily is proud of him. Hav­ing him in Miami, do­ing what he’s do­ing, it’s just in­cred­i­ble. Ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble.”

When his son was build­ing his ca­reer in Tal­la­has­see and Raleigh, got his first job as a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in Murfrees­boro, Tenn., and then moved from Starkville, Miss., to Austin, to Rus­ton, La., and Starkville again, the bond didn’t break.

“No mat­ter where he was, we’ve al­ways talked about the Canes,” Diaz Sr. said. “That’s what was in his heart. This is where he grew up. It’s his home­town team. I don’t care where he is. This is deep in his heart. It was al­ways about Miami.

“For him to come back ... I’m see­ing him on the side­lines with Ed Reed, think­ing, ‘You were a kid go­ing to games, watch­ing Ed Reed and War­ren Sapp and all the rest.’ Now he’s bring­ing them on cam­pus to talk to the play­ers. It’s sur­real. It re­ally is an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence — for me, and I can only imag­ine for him.”

Diaz, in his postgame com­ments, said some­thing that res­onated with Hur­ri­canes fans every­where:

“This is, to me, nat­u­ral or­der re­stored,” he said. “This is the way a Satur­day night in Miami should be.”

His words re­called those nights in the Or­ange Bowl, when teams not wear­ing or­ange and green had a hard time be­liev­ing they had a chance. Th­ese Hur­ri­canes are build­ing that sort of fear.

Along the way, Diaz is build­ing a re­sume.

He is 43, sharp and charis­matic, and leader of one of the na­tion’s best de­fenses. For the se­cond year in a row, and the fourth time in his 11-year ca­reer as a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Diaz is up for the Broyles Award as the na­tion’s top as­sis­tant coach. Should Miami march on to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, Diaz might be a lock to win it.

But, there’s an ele­phant in the room, and it’s wear­ing Cuban links.

Diaz will cer­tainly get calls this off­sea­son, and in off­sea­sons to come, to be a head coach.

His fa­ther takes a prag­matic ap­proach, while bask­ing in this dream sea­son. Af­ter all, he used to buy Hur­ri­canes gear for his son. Now, he’s the proud owner of a Turnover Chain T-shirt.

“We don’t talk about it,” he said. “Our lives, my life, and his, have al­ways been a sur­prise. Ev­ery year af­ter the bowl game, you’re sit­ting next to the phone wait­ing for the call — ‘Hey, here’s where I’m go­ing.’ Like (Dec. 2015), it was, ‘Hey, I’m com­ing home!’ ‘What?’ So you just never know.

“Manny and I are very sim­i­lar that way. What’s im­por­tant right now for him is Vir­ginia, pe­riod, end of story. One game at a time. Let’s keep win­ning. If and when some­thing hap­pens, we’ll think about it. For now, it’s all about win­ning the next game.”

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