5 Head Coaching Jobs that Make Most Sense for Manny Diaz - NittanyCentral

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NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

5 Head Coaching Jobs that Make Most Sense for Manny Diaz

Manny Diaz’s future remains an open question as the college football offseason begins and the hiring cycle kicks into gear.

Before the 2023 season, Diaz told the media that “being the defensive coordinator at Penn State is a better job than being the head coach at a lot of different schools,” and that his position at Penn State gives him the opportunity to be “selective” in looking for another head coaching opportunity.

Diaz hasn’t been shying away from the idea that he wants to run his own program again in the future.

Now, after another stellar year as the Nittany Lions‘ defensive coordinator in Happy Valley leading one of the top defenses in the nation, Diaz could be a top candidate for many openings around the country.

With his “selective” remarks from before the season, however, would any of the open head coaching positions interest Diaz?

We will rank the top five head coaching positions open on the carousel right now and assess Diaz’s fit for each position.

5 Best Head Coaching Fits for Manny Diaz

Best Fit: Duke

With Mike Elko heading to Texas A&M, Duke may be the best open job on the market right now.

Elko took Duke from the bottom of the ACC to nine wins in his first season and again to bowl eligibility this season before leaving for the Texas A&M job.

Becoming the head coach at Duke would allow Diaz to return to the ACC, where he coached at Miami from 2019 to 2021. Taking over the Blue Devils would also give Diaz an opportunity to build a program without sky high expectations year in and year out, where bowl eligibility is a success and double digit wins would make you a hero on campus.

While Elko only reportedly made $3.5 million a year at Duke, Diaz’s resume and past experience, along with an increase in coaching salaries across the country since Elko signed his deal in 2021, could see Diaz potentially double his salary or more.

While Diaz’s salary is not public, top coordinators in the Big Ten and SEC make around $1.5 to $2.5 million.

Duke also would give Manny Diaz the opportunity to build a program that didn’t fire its head coach and is coming off of a seven-win season where the Blue Devils are heading to a bowl game.

Unlike a few other schools on this list, this would not necessarily need to be a full on rebuild, where Diaz can build on what Elko accomplished in the past two years. Elko’s departure to a bigger job could also be intriguing to Diaz, as he could also use Duke as a steppingstone after he proves himself as a head coach again.

All in all, the Duke opportunity could be exactly what Diaz is waiting for to take back over a program, build a program without crazy expectations, and potentially double his salary or better.

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Houston

Houston fired head coach Dana Holgersen after five seasons, after his first year leading the Cougars in the Big 12.

Although Holgersen led Houston to back to back bowls in 2021 and 2022, including a 12 win campaign in 2021 that saw the Cougars win the Birmingham Bowl over Auburn and ranking as high as 16th nationally, the Cougars regressed in their first year in the Big 12 and only won four games in 2023.

With Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 before the 2024 season, the Houston job could be intriguing in the new look Big 12.

In a fertile recruiting ground in Texas and now in a power conference, Houston could be intriguing for Diaz to build a team that could legitimately compete for a conference title and a good bowl each year.  At Houston, Diaz could also see his salary roughly doubled. Dana Holgerson was paid $4.5 million per year in an extension signed in 2022.

As mentioned above, Diaz’s salary is not public, but is expected to be in the range of $1.5 to $2.5 million.

Syracuse

Syracuse could be an interesting job for Manny Diaz.

Once again, this job would put Manny Diaz back in the ACC. In the northeast, there is a void of college football powerhouses, with the only power conference teams playing in the region being Boston College and Syracuse.

With this, while the northeast is not necessarily known as a fertile recruiting ground like Florida or Texas, there is still plenty of home-grown talent in the region to tap into for Syracuse.

Syracuse fired Dino Babers after only making 3 bowl games in his eight year tenure, even though two of those seasons with bowl eligibility came in the past two years. Syracuse would give Diaz the opportunity to coach in a power conference while not dealing with the high expectations that he had at Miami.

If he could build Syracuse into a yearly bowl eligible team fighting for eight or more wins per season, Diaz could get the opportunity to once again return to a higher-tier job.

Syracuse was paying Dino Babers $3.5 million per year, which is the same as what Duke was paying Elko.

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Indiana

One opening that could keep Manny Diaz in the Big Ten is Indiana.

Indiana fired Tom Allen after seven seasons leading the Hoosiers. While Indiana should have one of the highest salary pools out of the open jobs, it is so low on my list because of how difficult it is to win at Indiana.

With the Big Ten expanding in 2024, Indiana will be in the middle to lower tier in the Big Ten with a fight for bowl eligibility every year in the new layout.

With Diaz looking to be selective for his next head coaching job, Indiana probably does not check the boxes other than salary to get him to leave Happy Valley.

Oregon State

The worst fit out of the five head coaching positions that I selected is Oregon State.

While the assessment of this job would be much different one year ago, moving from the PAC12 to the PAC2 with a Mountain West Conference schedule and slashing the revenue for the athletic department by two thirds or more will certainly not help Oregon State attract top coaching talent.

The highest paid coach in the Mountain West, Craig Bohl at Wyoming, only makes $2.3 million per season, not far above the salary of a top coordinator in the Big Ten or SEC. If Diaz is looking to move on from Penn State, he will likely do so for a much higher salary than Oregon State could afford to pay in their new conference structure.

Time will tell if Diaz decides that the right position is out there. For the positions open right now, I would expect the most interest in Duke and Houston. As the carousel continues, we will see if a better fit opens for Diaz or if Diaz could return to Happy Valley for a third season in 2024. 

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Robert Casturo