CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Manny Diaz has built his first team at Miami.
Diaz finalized the hiring of Blake Baker from Louisiana Tech as the Hurricanes' new co-defensive coordinator Monday, starting the third time that they've worked together. Baker was a graduate assistant when Diaz was defensive coordinator at Texas, then was safeties coach under Diaz for one year at Louisiana Tech before replacing him there as coordinator.
"I couldn't be more excited," Baker said.
The move also allowed Diaz to complete the rest of his defensive staff assignments for 2019. Ephraim Banda will remain in the co-coordinator title that he was promoted to last month when Diaz was leaving Miami to become head coach at Temple, a course that was reversed when Mark Richt retired and opened the door for a Diaz return.
Jonathan Patke will be the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Jess Simpson stays as associate head coach and defensive line coach, and Mike Rumph continues as cornerbacks coach.
"The most important thing for me is staff alignment," Diaz said. "Staff alignment wins. It's hard to understand from the outside because you don't really know the inner workings of every staff, but you can watch college football and you can tell what places the people are aligned and there's a unity of vision, of thought, a shared consciousness on how to win. You don't win if you're not committed to one style of play."
Diaz is hoping to complete his offensive staff hirings this week.
The deal with Baker was expected for the past several days, and Diaz said he knows Baker, Banda, Patke, Simpson and Rumph will click together.
"It was so important that on the defensive side of the ball that I knew my staff was filled with people who completely understand how we tick, the ins and outs of this defense and how we run it," Diaz said. "With Blake Baker, there's a personal familiarity. Staff that like each other present better to the team. Good staff morale creates good team morale."