Stricklin Understands Diaz Seizing Texas Opportunity

When MSU defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz accepted the same position at Texas on Wednesday, the reaction of Bulldog fans fell mostly into two categories: indignance and understanding.

There are some who feel jilted by Diaz leaving after just 12 months on the job. The word “loyalty” has been thrown out there, as if Diaz owes MSU and head coach Dan Mullen more than what he’s given them.

Hogwash. He owes them his gratitude, sure, and he’s expressed that.

“I had to make sure that I spoke with Dan and (athletics director) Scott Stricklin before making any decisions,” Diaz said. “I think I owe it to Scott Stricklin and to Dan Mullen, I basically owe this part of my career to, because he’s the guy that brought me to the SEC and brought me to the biggest stage.”

Now he’s on a slightly bigger stage, and it’s hard to fault him for taking the job. As Diaz told me, there are only two or three jobs in the country he would’ve left for, and this was one of them. Who knows when it might open again if he hadn’t taken it.

This is the nature of college athletics, and some people still don’t get it. Diaz made a career decision, a business decision, a family decision. This is what’s best for him, and anybody who says they wouldn’t go to work for one of the best companies in their field given the chance is lying. So what if you’ve only been at your current job a year? Make the leap.

Nobody understands this reality better than Stricklin.

“I went to school at Mississippi State, I’ve worked at four other schools,” he said. “The nature of college athletics is if you do a good job, you’re going to be noticed, and people are going to give you opportunities.”

I’ll touch on this in a column for Friday’s Journal: Opportunities are what Stricklin hopes to create within MSU’s athletic programs. Opportunities to move on, or in the case of Chris Wilson and Angelo Mirando, opportunities to move up within the program.

“The nature of this business is when you hire talented people, if you’ve got a program that is built and geared for success, they’re going to have opportunities – they’re going to have the opportunity to stay and grow with you, and they’re going to have the opportunity when other people are going to want to hire them,” said Stricklin. “That’s why it’s critical to hire talented people who you feel are going to be successful. When this does happen, you can continue.”

So, Diaz chose to move on, to better his career. So did Mark Hudspeth. Now, Wilson and Mirando have an opportunity to step in and maintain the level of success those guys had. That’s how Stricklin wants it.