After a series of fits in starts to find their next head football coach, the University of Connecticut has reportedly found its man in Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman broke the news, reporting that UConn and Diaco have already agreed to terms on a five-year contract:
Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 12, 2013
Diaco confirmed the deal on Thursday (via Desmond Conner of The Courant):
Diaco deal is for five years and worth $8 million. He will will make $1.5 million this season....#UConn— Desmond Conner (@desmondconner) December 12, 2013
Diaco "This is not a rebuilding job. Great resources...From facilities and resources, not going anywhere in country and find better." #UConn— Desmond Conner (@desmondconner) December 12, 2013
Diaco on recruiting: "We have a lot to present and there's more than enough players to collect to win a championship." #UConn— Desmond Conner (@desmondconner) December 12, 2013
Diaco, 40, is widely considered one of the best assistant coaches in the nation. Under head coach Brian Kelly, he has regularly kept the Fighting Irish near the upper crust among defenses, with his units often atoning for mediocre play from the Notre Dame offense.
Diaco's finest season came in 2012, when the Irish led the nation in points allowed per game en route to a BCS National Championship Game berth. He was awarded with the Broyles Award for his work with the defense, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football. Manti Te'o, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are just three of the young players who owe a lot of their development to Diaco.
The hiring of the 2012 Broyles Award winner comes not too long after the Huskies were spurned by the 2013 honoree. Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was first offered the job but took his name out of consideration earlier Wednesday, per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press.
“I was honored to be considered by Warde Manuel and the University of Connecticut for its head coaching position,” Narduzzi said. “After consideration, I have withdrawn from the search, and I’m devoting my full attention to our players and team in preparation for our Rose Bowl game.”
With Narduzzi out of the picture, athletics director Warde Manuel and Diaco quickly worked to hammer out a deal.
Diaco takes over the reins from interim coach T.J. Weist, who led Connecticut to a 3-5 record after the firing of Paul Pasqualoni in September. Pasqualoni's Huskies struggled mightily in each of his two-plus seasons in Storrs, finishing 5-7 in both 2011 and 2012 and starting 0-4 before being let go. Connecticut started 0-9 overall before winning its last three games.
That proved a marked decline from the Randy Edsall era, during which the Huskies made bowl games every year from 2007 to 2010, including the Fiesta Bowl in 2010.
It will be up to Diaco now to restore the Huskies' status as an up-and-coming program. The Huskies allowed 30.3 points per game in 2013, more than seven points more than any Notre Dame unit Diaco coached. With a five-year deal in place, though, it looks like he'll have more than enough time to craft the program in his image.
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