UNIVERSITY PARK (WTAJ) — Penn State football is just two weeks away from its bowl game against Arkansas, but when the team held an Outback Bowl media day Friday morning, the topic dejour was Manny Diaz.
“I enjoy picking his brain,” said senior linebacker Jesse Luketa. “Having him here is going to be extremely valuable to myself and this defense. It’s a good feeling like that to have a good defensive mind in the room.”
Manny Diaz joins Penn State after six seasons with Miami as a defensive coordinator, and head coach. His breakup was dramatic to see the least.
“I don’t even know what day it is,” Diaz joked. “This past month has been a hell of a year.”
When Brent Pry left Penn State to become Virginia Tech’s head coach he said he wanted to find a coordinator who shared a similar philosophy. Friday, he said he believe he’d found that in Diaz.
Diaz, himself, compered his scheme to Bob Shoop, who came to Penn State from Vanderbilt with coach Franklin.
“Philosophically, Bob and I were very closely aligned in the way that we like to be aggressive,” he said.
Diaz saw mixed results as a head coach at Miami, but his final season as a fulltime coordinator the Hurricane had one of the best defenses in the country. Asked whether living up to the pedigree Penn State’s defenses have had over the year, Manny said it’s why you come to Happy Valley.
“You would want to coach here otherwise,” he said. “I think it would be hard to be a high achiever and view that as pressure. To me it’s a privilege and opportunity and its what makes it so much fun to come to work every day.”
Diaz won’t take over as Penn State’s acting defensive coordinator until after the bowl game, assistant defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter call the game on January 1st.