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Manny Diaz’s First Day On The Job At Duke

A lot of people aren’t sold on Diaz yet but his comments Saturday should at least make Planet Duke understand this: he gets us.

Charlotte v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 9: Duke head football coach Manny Diaz holds up a baby doll named Cammie during the game between the Charlotte 49ers and the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 9, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Duke introduced Manny Diaz as its new basketball coach on Saturday, inviting the media and fans to the KD and Sarah Lynn Kennedy Field at Pascal Field House on Saturday. Here are some excerpts from AD Nina King’s comments and from Diaz himself.

King first:

Manny Diaz is the perfect fit for Duke, and I want to share with you all why. When we asked our current student-athletes what they wanted in a head coach, we heard comments like ‘someone who pushes them to be better every day’, ‘someone who values his players on and off the field’, ‘a player’s coach’, ‘someone who is fun to play for’ and ‘a man of integrity...’Over the past week and a half, we worked meticulously to find the right person to lead our football program. Manny emerged as a leader who embodied all of those characteristics and more...It was clear that he would prioritize the holistic student-athlete experience and continue the positive momentum around Duke football. Not only is he a thoughtful communicator, but he also leads with a collaborative mindset to build meaningful relationships and those relationships and connections are critically important to him.”

Diaz:

“There’s something about Duke. So, the story begins really in the last couple of years. The first character in the story is none other than David Feeley, right? I would get on the phone with David and as David and this outstanding staff was here, he would begin to tell me there’s something about Duke...Then you watched the season a year ago, 2022, and you watched the success that you guys had, and we would talk on the phone again and he’d say there’s just something about Duke. And then like most of America home on Labor Day night this past year and Clemson comes into town, and you just see it happen. Again, talking about it afterwards and what is it about Duke? Well, fast forward now and after the season ends and all of a sudden, there is a contact from Nina and she says there’s an opening at Duke so, would you be interested? Of course, you’d be interested because you’ve got this curiosity, right. You’ve got this intellectual curiosity...There was one young man in particular who said something and then it finally clicked. The whole story. There’s something about Duke story that finally made sense. And what he explained to me was this, he said, ‘when we’re on campus’, and this is a direct quote, ‘we are surrounded by the best people in the world’. I’ll say that one more time, ‘when we’re on campus, we’re surrounded by the best people in the world, and when we come back into our locker room we think we have the best locker room in the world.’ And that’s it. That’s the something about Duke. That is the culture, that is the key. So, to me, I’m humbled hopefully, to be the next part of there’s something about Duke. And with that, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here today to address you.”

When you read the whole thing, that’s an impressively organized introductory speech. He comes across as bright and organized and someone who sees Duke not as a stepping stone but a great place to be.

Of course, we all thought that about Mike Elko before he bolted. We hope Diaz is successful, and if he is, we hope he means what he said on Saturday and that he can stay here as long as he wants to.

He followed that up with an appearance at Cameron.

During his time there he came out at the first timeout and was presented to the crowd. At halftime he did the charity free throw thing and nailed it which made people very happy. He also went over and sat with the Cameron Crazies, even holding up The Baby.

All in all, it was a well-managed introduction.

Snarky Miami fans are sneering that he is a retread, bound to fail, etc, to which we say first, you never know, and second, Miami ran Diaz off for Mario Cristobal and so far, Cristobal is 12-12, so who’s zooming who here?

Welcome to Duke, coach. Go get ‘em.