Frankie Diaz took a phone call with an offer to coach college football in Kansas.

“University of Kansas?” he asked.

“No, Independence, Kansas,” was the response from Independence Community College coach Jason Brown. “About an hour north of Tulsa.”

Diaz asked about living arrangements and was told he’d get a dorm room. As for salary, there was nothing to offer but free meals.

“This is a good opportunity for you to coach some serious talent,” Brown insisted.

Diaz, a former football star at Willamette High who worked on the Oregon support staff under coach Chip Kelly, hung up and debated the decision to leave West Los Angeles College after five seasons as an assistant coach.

“I called back the next day and went for it,” he said.

Diaz would soon realize that he was off to "Last Chance University."

Talent and trouble

Diaz was named co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season for the Pirates, who went winless in 2014 and won four Jayhawk Conference games in four seasons before Brown arrived in 2016 and started recruiting talented players in need of a restart for their college career.

The quarterback was 2016 four-star recruit Malik Henry, who was suspended at Florida State before leaving the program following his freshman year. Running back Rakeem Boyd played one season at Texas A&M before leaving because of academic problems.

Another running back, Kingston Davis, transferred from Michigan, and wide receiver Carlos Thompson arrived from Texas Tech.

A total of 21 players on the roster signed to play at a four-year school next year, including wide receiver Calvin Jackson at Washington State and cornerback Delrick Abrams to Colorado.

“We were loaded,” Diaz said. “Our linemen were 6-foot-8 across the board and the quarterback was No. 2 in the nation out of high school. It was a tremendous amount of talent, but they thought they were better than a junior-college program. They were Division I guys who thought they didn’t need this and that is a problem we had, but being a younger coach I was able to connect with them. I told them if they wanted to do better for their family, they had to come out there and do it for themselves.”

The talented and troubled roster caught the attention of Netflix, which showcased East Mississippi Community College during its first two seasons of the show “Last Chance U” that documents a year in junior college football. Shortly after Diaz arrived at Independence, Netflix announced the Pirates were picked to be featured on Season 3 of the 10-episode show that begins airing July 20.

“It was a blessing in disguise to go to Kansas, and then this Netflix deal pops up,” Diaz said. “I just went for an opportunity to coach that caliber of talent and see how I would do. I excelled and hopefully Last Chance U shows that, so it creates some attention for myself.”

Diaz has not seen the final version of the show, but figures to be a key figure as the quarterbacks coach who worked with Henry. Cameras followed the team daily from 4 a.m. until midnight.

“Henry and coach Brown are hotheads who don’t always get along, so you will see that,” Diaz said. “I was the middle man who had to keep things together.”

Independence went 6-1 in the Jayhawk Conference last year to win its first conference title since 1977. The Pirates finished the season 9-2 and were ranked No. 5 in the National Junior College Athletic Association after defeating Northeastern A&M in the Midwest Classic Bowl to win its first postseason game in school history.

“We looked like a small FBS school and we probably could have beaten some FBS teams,” Diaz said. “We had a great season, but we faced a lot of adversity. When you have a team with a bunch of studs, we had to figure out where to put them because everyone wants to shine. We lost our first game 75-21 and I wasn’t sure if we wanted to continue to get our butts beat on Nextflix for two months so we had to do some serious soul searching and move guys around.”

Back to Los Angeles

Diaz was an all-league cornerback as a senior at Willamette in 2007 when he had seven interceptions to help the Wolverines win the Midwestern League championship.

He went to Oregon and tried to join the football team as a walk-on at wide receiver, but did not make the cut. Instead, Kelly and wide receivers coach Scott Frost invited him to be an undergraduate assistant during his final three years of school.

“I am thankful for the opportunity Chip and Scott gave me at Oregon, learning from those guys and taking their coaching points,” Diaz said. “I was a fly on the wall and watched everything they did to take it with me.”

Diaz graduated with a degree in sociology before West L.A. coach Marguet Miller hired him as video coordinator and quarterbacks coach. His prized prospect was quarterback Jorge Reyna, who signed to play for Jeff Tedford at Fresno State.

Diaz spent five years with the Wildcats before leaving for Independence Community College, but he returned to Los Angeles after just one high-profile season season in Kansas. He was hired in March as offensive coordinator at Santa Monica High School by Matt Kirk, the former safeties coach at Nevada who is looking to turn around a former prep powerhouse that has finished under .500 in each of the past four seasons.

“Because I was not getting paid, I couldn’t stay in Kansas,” said Diaz, who also plans to work as a substitute teacher at Santa Monica. “I was not sure if I wanted to do junior-college football anymore because there is no pay and you work your butt off. This keeps me in the loop and I will have the play-calling duties, so it gives me an opportunity to show what I can do.”

Diaz hopes to coach in college again and has a good reference not far away.

“I saw Chip in May and it was good to connect with him,” he said. “I am hoping now that he is down there at UCLA that he will keep an eye out for me.”