The Miami Hurricanes didn’t waste long to find their replacements for Manny Diaz at defensive coordinator.
Yes, Miami is going with two and didn’t look far to find them. The Hurricanes announced Friday they have promoted safeties coach Ephraim Banda and outside linebackers coach Jonathan Patke to co-defensive coordinators in the wake of Diaz’s departure to become the coach of the Temple Owls.
Additionally, Miami is adding a new title for Jess Simpson. The defensive line coach is also being promoted to associate head coach.
“Our defensive unit is coming off an outstanding season and Coach Banda, Coach Patke and Coach Simpson were instrumental figures to that success,” coach Mark Richt said in a statement Friday. “Coach Banda and Coach Patke are both terrific teachers, motivators and recruiters, and I’m confident the determination and energy they bring to this program every day will help them continue to thrive in their new roles.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Diaz said Thursday he still plans to be the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator for the Pinstripe Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers on Dec. 27. The promotions from within leave an assistant coach spot open for Miami, which Richt can fill however he likes.
The Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) finished the regular season ranked second in total defense, first in pass defense and first in tackles for a loss. Banda, Patke and Simpson all played key roles, which made retaining them a priority for Miami, even though both actually possess limited experience on the sidelines.
Banda is the more experienced of the two. The position coach was in his third season as the Hurricanes’ safeties coach and played an important part in developing defensive backs Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine into all-confence players. Banda is also one of the program’s best recruiters, fending off the Alabama Crimson Tide to sign Gurvan Hall in the Class of 2018 and also assisting in the recruitments of running back Lorenzo Lingard, and defensive backs Al Blades Jr. and Gilbert Frierson.
Patke is even less experienced, in his first season as Miami’s outside linebackers coach. He previously was a defensive quality control analyst under Diaz in the former defensive coordinator’s first two seasons with the Hurricanes.
“All of these coaches are men of high character who not only know our defensive terminology and standards, but who will keep our players competing at a high level. I am committed to continuing the legacy of great defense here at the University of Miami and I am confident these moves will ensure that success going forward.”
Both Banda and Patke are longstanding members of Diaz’s coaching tree. Banda began his Division I coaching career as a graduate assistant for Diaz with the Texas Longhorns from 2012-2015. Banda joined back up with Diaz with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2015 before following him to Coral Gables in 2016.
Patke began working with Diaz with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in 2014, then followed the coach to Mississippi State after one season. Like Banda, Patke then followed Diaz to Miami in 2016, where he began working as a quality control assistant.
Banda’s and Patke’s working relationship goes back even further than their days together in Starkville, Miss., though. Both were on the coaching staff of the Incarnate Word Cardinals in 2011, when the program was still Division II.
Simpson’s promotion, meanwhile, will give him more responsibility for the entire direction of the program, Richt said.
“He is an excellent teacher, motivator and technician, and I’m excited to elevate him to associate head coach,” Richt said. “Being a long-time head coach himself, Coach Simpson can also assist me with big picture initiatives for our program.”