In 2019, Manny Diaz did something no one else in the history of football games between Miami and Florida State had done: becoming the first FSU alum to notch a victory as a head coach in the series.
But, the 1995 graduate wasn’t wearing garnet and gold when he left Bobby Bowden Field that day - instead, it was orange and green being worn by the Miami native coaching what he has consistently called “the job.”
“Miami is home. The University of Miami is home,” Diaz said when he first got hired in January 2019 after three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the ‘Canes. “I came to understand what it means to be part of ‘The U’ and came to appreciate the passion and commitment to excellence of all who proudly call themselves Canes.”
Diaz has made no secret that one of his first loves growing up in the 305, as the son of a future Miami mayor with the same name, was the Hurricanes team he would watch as a youngster at the old Orange Bowl stadium.
“There’s so many Orange Bowls, national championships,” Diaz said before Miami's 2019 game against FIU played at the site of the former stadium. “The stadium’s not there anymore, obviously, the neighborhood is. And I think that’s actually the cooler part."
But, when it came time for college after graduating from Miami Country Day School, Diaz went to Tallahassee and graduated with a degree in communication from FSU.
When it came time to start his coaching career, Diaz returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant for two seasons that include a national title in 1999 - and two wins over the ‘Canes.
Diaz bounced across the country before landing back in his hometown in 2016. Since his return to the sidelines for the ‘Canes, Diaz has been a part of three straight wins in the series and has a 3-1 record with the only loss in 2016 coming by one point.
"I feel like it was great team ball by offense, defense, and special teams," he said after last season's 27-10 win. "It is special for our seniors to go out 3-1 against FSU. To do it at Doak Campbell Stadium, I couldn’t be more proud.”
He isn’t the only Diaz who has been in the coaching business - son Colin spent time as a graduate assistant recently at Florida A&M while getting his own undergrad degree from FSU.
"It is pretty cool," Manny Diaz told the Tallahassee Democrat. "He was actually born in Tallahassee, too. So it is cool. I like seeing it.
With a 5-1 record coaching in the series overall, Diaz knows what's at stake in the rivalry - no matter whether it's from his time as a Seminole or his current time as a Cane.
“Miami and Florida State should be a national holiday and it doesn’t matter the records," he said Monday on a local radio show.