(UPDATE BELOW ON DIAZ)
For the past few days, Al Groh has been steadily transitioning from the likely next defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech to the likely next defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins.
We have only circumstantial evidence of this: 1) Groh, once seemingly locked on Tech as a destination, suddenly has options with other college and NFL jobs opening up, and clearly is taking his time; 2) He interviewed for the Miami Dolphins job Wednesday, where his long-time friend and coaching buddy, Bill Parcells, is team vice president.
While it’s not clear whether Tech coach Paul Johnson has actually offered Groh the position, there have been strong indications that he is waiting for Groh to decide on his job preference. Regardless, I’m guessing this coaching search will not last much longer because Johnson is not exactly known for his patience.
One important factor in this search is the Jackets have significant budget constraints, unlike Georgia, and therefore can’t pay a lot for an assistant football coach. Groh is only a candidate because he’s already drawing $4.33 million from Virginia over the next two seasons, and therefore will not demand a high salary. But if he says no, the stature of candidates likely drops. With that as a backdrop, here are three other candidates for Tech:
♦ 1) Manny Diaz: His name has been floated as a
long shot for the Georgia vacancy. He’s the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State, which went 10-3 this season (a Sun Belt record for wins), including victories over Maryland, Memphis and Southen Miss. Diaz’ defense set a school record for sacks (38). The Blue Raiders also led the Sun Belt in takeaways (33) and turnover margin (plus-12, which ranked eighth nationally), and ranked second nationally in tackles for loss (8.62 per game). In the Sun Belt, MTSU ranked second in scoring defense (23.7 ponts) and third in total defense (354.8 yards). Diaz also is familiar with the ACC landscape. He spent six years (2000-05) at North Carolina State, mostly coaching linebackers and safeties, and two at Florida State (1998-99), where he worked under Mickey Andrews and was there for the Seminoles’ national championship in 1999. As a political bonus: his father is the two-term mayor of Miami.
(UPDATE: Rumors have been flying around since last night that Diaz has been hired by Mississippi State. For what it’s worth, Diaz reportedly has interviewed with both the Bulldogs and Houston, but neither school has announced a hiring.)
♦ 2.) Tim DeRuyter: This might be a reach since the Air Force defensive coordinator is said to be a top candidate for the Texas A&M job, vacated by Joe Kines. The Air Force finished 11th in the nation in total defense (288.3 yards per game), 10th in scoring defense (15.7 points) and fifth in takeaways (34). The Falcons also held high-scoring TCU in check, losing only 20-17.
♦ 3.) Bob Shoop: The fact he coaches at a 1-AA school (William and Mary) works against him. But he was just named the FCS coordinator of the year after leading William and Mary (CAA), which went 11-3 this season. The Tribe defense’s per game averages: 61 yards rushing (No. 1 nationally in the FCS), 229 total yards (No. 2), 12 points (No. 2).