There's only one word to describe Miami's search for a new athletic director, per Action Network's Brett McMurphy: mess.
The days of "The U" living on the glory of 2001 might be coming to an end based on recent developments. McMurphy notes that with more than 50 board of trustees and several donors involved in the search, the feeling is that nobody is in charge. The room appears split on retaining head coach Manny Diaz.
Miami parted ways with athletic director Blake James on Nov. 15, bringing his eight-year tenure to an end. James was let go two days after the Hurricanes' 31-28 loss to rival Florida State, falling to 5-5 on the season. Miami finished the season 7-5, a backwards step under Diaz, 47, in his third season.
From 1983-2001, Miami won five national championships, becoming one of the top programs in college football. In 2004, Miami joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). They have failed to win a conference championship in that time.
Between lack of interest in the football program and poor structure within the administration, many candidates have declined the opportunity to become Miami's athletic director. New Mexico athletic director Eddie Nunez, thought to be the frontrunner, took his name out of consideration on Wednesday, McMurphy said.
Miami will need to fill its athletic director opening sooner rather than later, especially with Diaz's job in the balance. Two names are linked to the head coaching position if Diaz is fired: Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
Cristobal, 51, is royalty in Coral Gables, having starred at offensive tackle for Miami from 1988-1992. Cristobal began his coaching career in 1998 at Miami as a graduate assistant. Oregon is 35-12 under Cristobal.
Kiffin, 46, is in year two at Ole Miss, sitting at 10-2. He's 15-7 in Oxford, with the program trending up. In an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman said Kiffin would have a hard time turning down Miami if offered.
“If there’s no Mario, I think there are some old Miami people, former Miami players, who do have some influence,” Feldman said. “They have more voice than at any other program in the country. A lot of those guys who are interested in Lane, and Lane, I think, would have a hard time saying no if Miami came after him.”