A day before the Dallas Cowboys went down in defeat by not running the ball out of bounds as the clock was winding down, the UConn Huskies experienced a loss in similar fashion. With no timeouts remaining and just 17 seconds to play, UConn head coach Bob Diaco called for his offense to run up the middle against Navy from the one-yard line. Navy stuffed the run and UConn was unable to get another play off, losing to the Midshipmen in American Athletic Conference play 28-24.
You would think a coach would use the benefit of hindsight to say he should have tried a passing play in that situation, thus resulting in a touchdown or a stoppage of the clock to run one final play. Not Diaco. He defended the bonehead play.
”The offensive team wanted to run the ball, wanted to run the ball in,” Diaco said Tuesday, in a comment that reads as though the inmates are running the asylum. ”I think if the players believe they can execute a play, isn’t that better than believing they can’t execute a play?”
I am sure Diaco is a fine gentleman and I concede he probably knows more football than I will ever know, but there is a very simple answer to that question and it is a resounding “Nope.” Diaco is the head coach being paid money to give the Huskies the best possible chance to win. Running up the middle against Navy with no timeouts to spare and just 17 precious seconds remaining in the ballgame is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea and Diaco should be the one telling his players there is no chance they are going to run in that situation. If it were the final play of the game, sure, why not.
Diaco attempted to defend his decision by pointing out the Seattle Seahawks and Pete Carroll were ripped for a similar situation in the Super Bowl two years ago, when Russell Wilson was picked off by the Patriots instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch. You see, that’s the difference right there. If UConn had a player like Marshawn Lynch to hand off to, maybe they win. Do you see Marshawn Lynch on the UConn roster? Because I do not.
Maybe things would be different if UConn didn’t just have to sneak by their FCS opponents from Maine in the opener. Maybe the feeling would be different if Diaco was riding the emotions of a team that had clear physical advantages and an established pedigree for overpowering their opponents, but this isn’t Alabama. It’s UConn. Even if UConn scored on the play, it still would have gone down as a poor playcall that turned out to be nothing more than lucky. Had the play worked, Diaco would have earned the trust of the players and vice versa. Now, everyone looks rather foolish.
Diaco and other head coaches are paid too much money to let the players decide what to do next. The next time Diaco is presented with such a situation, here’s hoping he lets everyone know who is in charge. Otherwise, it might cost the Huskies another win.