No coordinator in college football improved his stock more than Bob Diaco during the 2012 season. After directing a Notre Dame defense that finished the regular season first in the nation in points allowed, Diaco was named the Broyles Award winner, given to the top assistant coach in college football.
Head coach openings at Cincinnati and Wisconsin left Fighting Irish fans in a brief state of panic, but those positions were ultimately filled without Diaco ever becoming a serious candidate. However, Diaco will be a head coach someday. It’s only a matter of time.
Will it be in 2014? It’s too early to tell, but let’s look at five potential openings that could be potential fits for Diaco should he choose to make the leap to head coach.
A former Hawkeye player under the great Hayden Fry, Diaco will likely always have his eye on the Iowa job. However, Kirk Ferentz, for some reason, remains one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. His current contract runs through the 2019 season.
In an era where many athletic departments are struggling financially, it’s hard to see Iowa pulling the trigger quite yet on Ferentz, who has won a share of two Big Ten titles and gone to two BCS bowls. The Hawkeyes have gone just 19-19 over the past three seasons. Another losing season could force Iowa into a difficult decision.
If Diaco would like to return to his east coast roots, Maryland may be a good fit for the New Jersey native. Randy Edsall, who will be entering his third year in College Park, has yet to take the Terrapins to a bowl game after Ralph Friedgen went to seven in 10 seasons.
The Washington, D.C. and Virginia area has become one of the hottest recruiting grounds in the country, giving the program access to elite players just a short distance from campus. Maryland will join the Big Ten in 2014, which should elevate the program to a greater platform than it currently is on in the ACC.
Missouri is far from an elite job at the moment, but the SEC is the SEC. Gary Pinkel probably needs to get the Tigers back to the postseason after a disappointing 5-7 2012 season. That’s no guarantee with a rigorous SEC schedule (although the non-conference schedule is light).
Columbia is just down the road from Diaco’s alma mater, Iowa, so he’s familiar with the area. Diaco is a young guy with a fiery personality, much in the mold of recent SEC hires such as Will Muschamp at Florida, Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M and James Franklin at Vanderbilt.
It’s no secret that Mike Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder aren’t exactly best friends. Gundy flirted with both Tennessee and Arkansas this offseason before ultimately choosing to stay in Stillwater.
However, it’s hard to not see Gundy jumping should a top-tier program or NFL team pursue him.
With Boone Pickens’ bottomless pockets, the Cowboys program has invested significantly in recent years. It will always play second fiddle to Oklahoma in the state (it’s nicknamed the Sooner State, after all), but a good recruiting base with Texas just across the Red River means the 12-1 2011 season can be duplicated.
No, James Franklin is in no danger of losing his job. He will, however, be a prime candidate for some major openings in 2014, barring a complete collapse by the Commodores.
Texas and USC are both trending downward and would have to at least consider Franklin if either program makes a change.
Franklin has proven you can win in Nashville, and the lure of an SEC head coaching position, much like Missouri, may be too much for Diaco to pass up. The similarities between Notre Dame and Vanderbilt also may make Diaco an ideal fit for the Commodores.