CORAL GABLES — The fact that Manny Diaz will be making his head coaching debut at a big-name program (Miami) at a big-time stage (against No. 8 Florida) isn’t a surprise to people who have known and worked with him for years.
Including Hurricanes assistant head coach Todd Stroud.
The St. Petersburg native has known Diaz since 2000, when Stroud was the strength and conditioning coach at North Carolina State and Diaz was a graduate assistant there.
“He’s got all the attributes to be successful,” Stroud said last week at Miami’s media day. “He’s very smart. He process information probably differently than you and I do from a schematic standpoint, and he’s a people guy.”
Stroud saw all of that almost two decades ago, when Diaz was at the bottom of the totem pole instead of running the show. It was the second time in Stroud’s coaching career when he could see the obvious, head-coaching potential in an up-and-coming assistant.
The first time? Back at Samford from 1988-92, when he worked alongside a first-time assistant coach.
"Jimbo stuck out like a sore thumb as a young coach,” Stroud said. “You knew he would be destined to be a head coach at some point. Manny was the second one I’ve seen. I told my wife early on in the process, probably after Year 1 at NC State, you need to watch this guy. He’ll be a head coach.”
Nineteen years later, Stroud has been proven right — again.
I’ll have more on Diaz’s coaching career in the coming days.