Texas fires defensive coordinator after ‘unacceptable’ performance against BYU

Posted Sunday, Sep. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Texas fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Sunday, less than 24 hours after one of the worst defensive performances in the history of the program.

Longhorns coach Mack Brown announced that former Longhorns defensive coordinator and Syracuse coach Greg Robinson will take over the job.

“Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that,” Brown said.

BYU ran for 550 yards, the most ever allowed by Texas, in a 40-21 victory against the Longhorns on Saturday night, putting a potential breakthrough season on the brink of another big disappointment if the Longhorns can’t fix their defensive problems. Texas (1-1) plays No. 25 Mississippi (2-0) at home on Saturday.

Brown hired Diaz after Texas finished 5-7 in 2010 and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp left to be the head coach at Florida. The hire was a surprise considering Diaz had been defensive coordinator just one season at Mississippi State, but Brown called him a rising star in coaching who brought energy and new ideas to his struggling program.

Aside from a blowout loss to Oklahoma, Diaz’s first season was a success as Texas matured into the best defense in the Big 12. But the unit regressed into the one of the worst in program history in 2012. As the season wore on, players complained that teammates weren’t lining up correctly or playing hard every game.

Texas hid some of those problems with a 9-4 finish and a bowl victory and Brown shrugged off questions if Diaz would be replaced. But after the loss to BYU, Diaz’s tenure was being measured in minutes.

Television cameras during the game showed Brown huddled with Diaz and defensive backs coach Duane Akina seemingly pleading with them to find a way to stop BYU’s marauding rushing attack.

Brown refused to say in his postgame news conference if he planned to keep Diaz on the job, and by Sunday afternoon announced that he will be reassigned within the athletic department. Diaz makes more than $600,000 a year.

Brown knew he was taking a chance on Diaz when he hired him. Diaz, who once worked at ESPN and thought he wanted a career in sports journalism, was inspired to pursue coaching after helping cover a Bill Parcells news conference.

Diaz’s career took him from graduate assistant role at Florida State to North Carolina State and Middle Tennessee. He was defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee for four seasons before taking the same job at Mississippi State. Diaz hadn’t applied for the Texas job until Brown called him.

In Robinson, Brown gets a coordinator with NFL experience who has rescued the Texas defense before.

Robinson spent one season with Texas in 2004, helping guide the Longhorns to an 11-1 finish and a Rose Bowl victory over Michigan and was notable for his fiery personality on the sideline. Robinson left Texas to be the head coach at Syracuse, where he spent four dreadful seasons, going 10-37. He served as Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Rich Rodriguez in 2009 and ’10, and then returned to Texas in July as a football analyst.

“He knows this place, did a terrific job in leading our defense before, and I’m excited to have him back on the field,” Brown said.

Robinson also spent 14 years in the NFL, most notably as defensive coordinator when the Denver Broncos won consecutive Super Bowls in 1997-1998. “This is a tough deal for everyone involved, but I love the University of Texas and coach Brown has been wonderful to me,” Robinson said in a statement released by the team. “I’ll do anything I can to help him.”

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