College Miami Hurricanes

Banda & Patke Named Co-Defensive Coordinators; Simpson Named Associate Head Coach

The Miami Hurricanes are preparing for life without Manny Diaz.

UM head coach Mark Richt announced Friday that safeties coach Ephraim Banda and outside linebackers coach Jonathan Patke have been named co-defensive coordinators and Jess Simpson has been promoted to associate head coach in addition to his duties as defensive line coach.

The move to promote Banda and Patke keeps a bit of continuity on the defensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes given that Diaz, who recently accepted an offer to become head football coach at Temple University, will be taking his talents elsewhere. Moving Patke and Banda up the chain also all but ensures that Diaz won’t take either or both young coaches with him to Philadelphia.

Promoting Simpson, a former largely successful high school head coach and position assistant with the Atlanta Falcons, to associate head coach fills the role that will be vacated once Diaz officially leaves Coral Gables.

Richt released a statement regarding the reshuffle.

“Our defensive unit is coming off an outstanding season and Coach Banda, Coach Patke and Coach Simpson were instrumental figures to that success,” Richt said.

“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. In addition, Coach Simpson did a remarkable job with our defensive front this season. He is an excellent teacher, motivator and technician, and I’m excited to elevate him to Associate Head Coach. Being a long-time head coach himself, Coach Simpson can also assist me with big picture initiatives for our program.”

Richt didn’t specify which – either Patke or Banda – would be responsible for calling defensive plays moving forward. The school’s release did confirm that Mike Rumph, a Miami alum and former NFL cornerback, will remain in his role as cornerbacks coach.

Banda has a bit more experience, in general and with the Hurricanes, than Patke – having served as the Canes’ safeties coach since 2016 when Richt brought in a new staff.

Patke joined Miami’s coaching staff in 2016 as a defensive quality control analyst and was promoted to outside linebackers coach before the start of the 2018 season as UM’s 10th hired assistant coach.

Keeping Banda also means keeping an ace recruiter. Banda has quickly ingratiated himself with South Florida high school coaches and athletes and has played a role in bringing in most of Miami’s recent defensive recruits. Many thought that a Diaz departure also meant Banda would be right behind because Banda’s coaching career began to blossom under Diaz at Texas (as a graduate assistant), then he followed him to Mississippi State and to Miami.

Simpson’s promotion is a deserved move, too. Coming in to replace Craig Kuligowski (who took the same position at Alabama), Simpson’s impact was felt as he oversaw one of the nation’s best defensive line units in 2018. Senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis III earned second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Sports Illustrated, racking up a career-high 59 tackles and four sacks, including 18 tackles for loss – the most in the nation by a defensive tackle.

Defensive ends Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin also posted stellar numbers under Simpson’s guidance in 2018. Jackson, a junior, racked up 47 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss, and a team-leading nine sacks. Garvin, a sophomore, amassed a career-best 54 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, and 5.5 sacks.

“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,” Richt added. “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.”

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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