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Miami AD Blake James passes on vote of confidence in Manny Diaz

Upcoming games against NC State and Pitt may be Diaz's last, best chance to salvage his Miami tenure.

We in the college sports-observing public love to point and gawk when an AD or president gives his embattled head coach the dreaded vote of confidence, but what does it say when an AD is given the opportunity to extend a vote of confidence but declines?

That's the reality at Miami, where AD Blake James said this on Friday, via the Miami Herald:

When asked during a phone conversation if Miami’s Diaz would definitely finish the season as head coach, James declined to answer specifically. 

“I can’t look into the future,’’ James said. “I think it’s a situation where Manny is our head coach and he’s getting the guys ready to play a game tomorrow.

“Manny is our head coach. Obviously this has been a disappointing season. Manny would acknowledge that. Our guys would acknowledge that. And I understand that the fans acknowledge that. 

...

“We need to win games. Manny knows we need to win games. And he and his coaching staff are doing everything they can to put our guys in position to win games.’’

Asked point-blank why he hasn't fired Diaz yet this season, James said he didn't think that was best for the football program but added, "This year has been disappointing on all counts."

Following a 6-7 debut in 2019, Miami was 8-2 and ranked No. 10 in the country heading into a home game with No. 17 North Carolina, with an Orange Bowl berth awarded to the winner. North Carolina won the game, 62-26. Miami then lost the Camping World Bowl to Oklahoma State and finished the season No. 22.

The Hurricanes began this season ranked 14th and, following an understandable loss to No. 1 Alabama, the Hurricanes needed a late-game escape to beat Appalachian State at home. Miami lost by 21 points to Michigan State and, following a drubbing of Central Connecticut, has dropped both ACC games thus far, to Virginia and North Carolina, by five points combined. Miami hosts No. 18 NC State on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2); the Hurricanes have not lost to the Wolfpack since 2008. 

Following Saturday's game, Miami heads back on the road to face ACC Atlantic leader Pitt. 

James's criticism added to the chorus of voices dissatisfied with the State of the U. Joaquin Gonzalez, a William V. Campbell Trophy winner and a cornerstone of the 2001 national championship team, tweeted this following the Virginia loss, which came on a missed field goal at the buzzer.

And though no one's come out and said anything, the South Florida's elite recruits have voted with their feet on the Diaz regime. With the early signing period looming two months away, Miami's 2022 recruiting class ranks 60th in the 247Sports composite rankings, below Wake Forest, Boise State and Marshall. None of the 'Canes eight commits are from the area typically regarded as South Florida.

"I am very pleased with the quality of the players that are committed to us," Diaz told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "There are some big-time targets that we feel good about our shots to get that we know we're coming down the stretch."

That's a good way to put it, because these two weeks are shaping up to be the home stretch of the entire Diaz era. 

Beat NC State and Pitt, and Miami can reasonably say it defeated two teams that are currently undefeated in conference play; suffered disappointing but forgivable losses to Alabama and top-10 Michigan State; sits inches away from 6-2, had a couple plays gone differently against UVa and UNC; and would be favored to finish 8-4 with a closing stretch of Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Duke. 

It's still a far cry from the glory days, but it's paradise compared to the alternative of two losses: 2-6, a previously unthinkable 8-game Power 5 losing streak, zero momentum on the recruiting trail, a mutiny amongst the fans and a disapproving AD observing over it all.