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What UNC’s Mack Brown says about his relationship with Miami’s Manny Diaz

UNC coach Mack Brown talks about relationship with UM coach Manny Diaz

Miami Coach Manny Diaz was a defensive coordinator under Mack Brown at Texas. He was fired in 2013. Brown talked about their current relationship.
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Miami Coach Manny Diaz was a defensive coordinator under Mack Brown at Texas. He was fired in 2013. Brown talked about their current relationship.

For the second consecutive week, Mack Brown will face a head coach who was once on his staff at Texas.

Last week, Brown went up against Will Muschamp, his former Texas defensive coordinator who’s now the head coach at South Carolina. UNC beat the Gamecocks, 24-20.

This week, Brown and the Tar Heels play against Miami and head coach Manny Diaz, the former Texas defensive coordinator who Brown fired in 2013.

When the Tar Heels (1-0) meet the Hurricanes (0-1) at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, though, there will be no hard feelings between the two.

Brown told the media Wednesday that he still has a relationship with Diaz.

“I helped Manny with (former Miami) Coach (Mark) Richt when he called for the job,” Brown said in a media availability. “I did a couple of their ball games (on ESPN), so I sat down with Manny and I talked to him, and of course I’d see him all the time. I love his wife and he’s got three great children.

Diaz was let go from Texas early in the 2013 regular season after the Longhorns’ defense gave up 550 rushing yards — the most allowed in school history — against Brigham Young.

“Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that,” Brown said in 2013, after Texas announced Diaz had been fired, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram.

Brown said the decision to part with Diaz back then did not damage their relationship at the time. He said the move wasn’t personal.

“We weren’t as good, and I had three older coaches in there and things weren’t working,” Brown said Wednesday about that season. “So I could have fired all of them.

“Very honestly, we weren’t playing good defense, so it wasn’t him, it was just the timing. And he understood that. Manny is a professional and he’s really good. We’ve moved way beyond that.”

Diaz, at a news conference Thursday, said he feels the same about Brown and their relationship status.

“Oh, yeah. He had our Duke game a year ago. I’ve seen him at the ACCs and all those types of things, so, yeah, we’ve talked through text messages and all types of stuff,” Diaz said.

Diaz also said that he uses some of what he learned from Brown and Texas in his coaching.

“There’s some procedural stuff and it’s hard to get into specifics, but, yeah, there are some ways that — the way you engage with people around your program that I thought (Brown) had a great knack for and some of the things on the inside that are more trade secrets you don’t really talk about,” Diaz said.

Before becoming head coach at Miami, Diaz served as the defensive coordinator there from 2016 to 2018. In 2017, the “turnover chain” became popular. And in 2018, the Hurricanes were ranked No. 4 in the country in total defense.

“He is perfect for Miami. I mean he grew up there. He loves Miami, his dad was the mayor,” Brown told the media on Wednesday. “He was there when Miami was the Miami we all know and he’ll want to get them back to that.”

The Hurricanes lost their season opener against No. 11 Florida, 24-20, on Aug. 24.

The Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan contributed.

Miami at UNC

When: 8 p.m., Saturday

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill

Watch: ACC Network

Listen: WTKK-106.1 Raleigh; WCHL-97.9, WCHL-1360 Chapel Hill; WBT-99.3, WBT-1110 Charlotte

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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