PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Now that Manny Diaz has accepted the job as the next head coach at Temple, the Miami Hurricanes are searching for a new defensive coordinator to fill the void.
Here's a look at some of the possible candidates for Mark Richt to consider:
COACHES WITH TIES TO HURRICANES
Winston Moss, former assistant head coach/linebackers coach, Green Bay Packers
Although he has never been a college coach, Moss has plenty of coaching experience. He has spent the last 20 years as an NFL assistant coach, most recently with the Packers. Moss alternated duties between linebacker and defensive end as a player for Miami, helping the Hurricanes win the 1983 national championship. He spent 11 years as a linebacker in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Raiders and Seattle Seahawks. Moss was fired by former Miami Dolphins and interim Green Bay head coach Joe Philbin just two days after the Packers parted ways with Mike McCarthy.
Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator, Central Florida Knights
Would Richt bring back Shannon? It was Shannon's stint as defensive coordinator from 2001-06 that got him the head coaching job at Miami, but that didn't work out too well. Shannon won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach while spearheading Miami's championship defense in 2001. Hiring Shannon could be advantageous when Miami faces Florida in next year's season opener. Shannon was defensive coordinator for the Gators from 2015-17, including the final four games as interim head coach after Jim McElwain was fired. There's obviously plenty of love for Miami for Shannon to at least consider it, but would he really leave a school that has the nation's longest winning streak and is playing in back-to-back New Year's Six bowls?
COACHES WITH TIES TO RICHT
Willie Martinez, assistant head coach/secondary coach, Central Florida Knights
Martinez was a member of Miami's 1983 national championship team and a teammate of Richt's in Coral Gables. He later coached with Richt at Georgia, first as secondary coach from 2001-04 and then as his defensive coordinator from 2005-09. But would there be any bad blood spilled over from when Richt fired him after the 2009 season? Martinez was a secondary coach at Oklahoma, Auburn and Tennessee before joining Josh Heupel's staff at UCF.
Brian VanGorder, associate head coach/linebackers coach, Bowling Green Falcons
VanGorder touts a resume with both NFL and college coaching experience. He was Richt's first defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2001-04 before he left to coach linebackers for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He spent last season as defensive coordinator at Louisville and has served in the same capacity at several other schools, Notre Dame and Auburn among them. VanGorder was also defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-11. He's also been a head coach at Wayne State and Georgia Southern. Although he just joined Scot Loeffler's staff at Bowling Green, it wouldn't be the first time a coach has reneged on a job to take another job before coaching a game.
COACHES FROM WITHIN
Mike Rumph, cornerbacks coach, Miami Hurricanes
Rumph was a member of Miami's 2001 national title team and currently serves as coach of the nation's top-ranked passing defense. Under his watch, the Hurricanes allow just 140.8 passing yards per game. Plucked from the high school ranks when Richt took over in 2016, Rumph's strong South Florida connection to area high schools, coupled with his unit's success, could make him a natural fit.
Jess Simpson, defensive line coach, Miami Hurricanes
Simpson was hired in March to replace Craig Kuligowski, who left to take the same job at Alabama. He also has deep ties to high school, although they're rooted in Georgia. Simpson spent the 2017 season with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and coached the defensive line at Georgia State in 2016. As a Georgia high school football coach, his team won seven state titles and appeared in 10 consecutive state finals. That success has translated to Miami, where the Hurricanes lead the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 10.5 per game.
COACHES FROM OUTSIDE
Terrell Buckley, safeties coach, Mississippi State
Buckley won the 1991 Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football while at Florida State. He's never been a defensive coordinator, but he's had success as a position coach at Louisville and Mississippi State. Richt knows Buckley from their days in Tallahassee, and Buckley has twice before called South Florida home while playing for the Miami Dolphins (1995-99, 2003) during his 14-year NFL career.
Jim Leonhard, defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, Wisconsin
Leonhard is in his second season as defensive coordinator and third as defensive backs coach at his alma mater. The former safety spent 10 seasons in the NFL before returning to Wisconsin as an assistant under Paul Chryst. Although the defense took a step back in 2018, the Badgers ranked second nationally in total defense during their 13-1 campaign last season. Leonhard is certainly familiar with Miami, having coached against the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl last year. The Hurricanes lost 34-24, but they'll get another shot at the Badgers in the Pinstripe Bowl later this month. Maybe Richt can broker a deal with the 2017 Broyles Award finalist when they're in New York together.