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Duke hires Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz as new football head coach

Chris Graham
Manny Diaz
Manny Diaz. Photo: Chris Graham/AFP

Duke has hired Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to take over its football program, moving quickly to replace Mike Elko, who left last week to take the job at Texas A&M.

“As our process unfolded, it became abundantly clear that Manny Diaz is the right fit for Duke University and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Manny, Stephanie, and their family into the Duke community,” Duke Athletics Director Nina King said in a statement in a press release announcing the hire on Thursday.

Diaz was 21-15 as the head coach at Miami from 2019-2021 before being let go when the school decided to go after UM alum Mario Cristobal, who is 12-12 in the two seasons since taking over.

Diaz moved on to Penn State, where he built a top-flight defense on the staff of head coach James Franklin.

Penn State was 21-4 with Diaz as the defensive coordinator, leading the nation in total defense and ranking third in scoring defense this season.

“I am thrilled to welcome Manny Diaz as the new head coach of Duke Football,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said. “He is an experienced coach with a strong track record of success, deep knowledge of the ACC, and an exciting vision for the future of our program. I am confident our student-athletes will continue to achieve tremendous success on the field and in the classroom under his leadership, and I look forward to welcoming Manny and his family to the Bull City.”

The challenge for Diaz will be rebuilding a roster that is set to lose more than half its scholarship players to graduation, and starting QB Riley Leonard to the transfer portal.

“We are grateful and humbled for this opportunity and could not be more excited to be the head football coach at Duke University,” Diaz said. “I’d like to give a special thanks to Dr. Price and Nina for their trust in me and our family as well as a true commitment to this program. Duke University is an elite institution in every facet, and we are excited to be a part of it. I’m beyond excited to get to work.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].