Bob Diaco

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Former UConn head coach Bob Diaco heading to Purdue in return to Big Ten

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The search for a new defensive coordinator at Purdue has apparently come to an end. Multiple reports on Monday have connected former UConn head coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as the new defensive coordinator at Purdue. Various reports also note Diaco will coach the linebackers for the Boilermakers. Diaco had most recently been working at Louisiana Tech as a defensive coordinator.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the coaching staff addition at Purdue, via Twitter.

The addition of Diaco as a defensive coordinator appears to be a solid addition and fit for head coach Jeff Brohm in West Lafayette. Diaco was a Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach in 2012 while the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Diaco had been with the Fighting Irish under Brian Kelly from 2010 through 2013 after coming to the Irish with Kelly from Cincinnati. After a successful run with the Irish as a coordinator, Diaco took his first head coaching opportunity with UConn. Diaco’s run with the Huksies didn’t have much success and is most known for his attempt to form a rivalry with UCF that became a running joke.

After being removed as head coach after three seasons at UConn, Diaco returned to his roots as a defensive coordinator with Nebraska in 2017. Diaco was let go along with the entire coaching staff in Lincoln after the 2017 season, which sent Diaco to Oklahoma to take on a role as a linebackers coach for the Soooners. Diaco joined the Louisiana Tech program as a defensive coordinator for the 2019 season.

Purdue ranked 13th in the 14-team Big Ten in total defense. Purdue allowed 436.3 yards per game in 2019 a year after allowing over 450 yards per game. The Boilermakers were one of three Big Ten teams to allow at least 30 points per game (Maryland allowed 34.7 ppg, Rutgers allowed 36.7 ppg). Louisiana Tech actually allowed 30 more yards per game in 2019 compared to the 2018 season prior to Diaco’s arrival.

Oklahoma officially confirms dismissal of Mike Stoops, names Ruffin McNeill defensive coordinator

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Monday morning started off with Oklahoma officially announcing the dismissal of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, news that started to break Sunday evening. Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has promoted assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill to the role of defensive coordinator for the remainder of the 2018 season. Defensive specialist Bob Diaco will take on the role of outside linebackers coach.

“I have great respect for Mike,” Riley said in a released statement. “He’s a quality football coach, great man and a close friend. It became time for a change in our program and that happens sometimes in football, but we cannot lose sight of the accomplishments Mike had at Oklahoma. He was responsible for a lot of success and deserves the gratitude of everyone associated with Sooner football, not only for his role in the winning, but for coaching with integrity.”

McNeill has previous defensive coordinator experience with UNLV, Fresno State, Texas Tech. Diaco is also a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and Notre Dame under Brian Kelly as well as Nebraska.

“Ruffin has an impressive résumé,” Riley said. “That’s why I wanted him on our staff in the first place. I have confidence in his knowledge and leadership. Bob has a lot of experience in very good programs and also has a list of accomplishments that will help him step in and make an immediate impact. We are fortunate to have these men in our program. They’ll be ready to get to work in new roles right away.”

Stoops was fired after this weekend’s loss to Texas, a 48-45 setback in the Red River Rivalry that saw Oklahoma’s defense once again continue to struggle to get a hold of the game. Although Oklahoma has an offense that is more than capable of leading the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma’s biggest shortcomings in recent years seem to come back to defensive issues, including last season’s regular-season loss to Iowa State and the Rose Bowl playoff loss to Georgia.

Stoops, of course, was one of many assistant coaches who remained in the Oklahoma coaching staff during a head coaching transition last year when Mike’s brother Bob Stoops suddenly retired and handed the program over to Riley. Once Bob Stoops retired, it was fair to wonder just how long Riley would stand by the defensive coordinator that has commonly been a target for criticism when things go wrong for the Sooners.

UConn relieves Bob Diaco of head coaching duties

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Well, at least UConn waited until after Christmas Day to ruin the holiday season for Bob Diaco. The school announced this morning Diaco has been relieved of his head coaching responsibilities in Storrs, effective January 2.

“I believe a new leader for our program and student-athletes is needed to build long-term success,” UConn Director of Athletics David Benedict said in a released statement. “I am grateful to Coach Diaco and his staff for their hard work and the integrity with which they ran the program and certainly wish them future success.”

Diaco, a former Notre Dame defensive coordinator, was hired by UConn following the 2013 season. In three seasons, Diaco’s Huskies went 11-26, including a 3-9 mark this past season. Diaco also caught heat for manufacturing a rivalry and trophy game series with UCF, without UCF knowing a thing about it.

The UConn vacancy is a late addition to the coaching carousel this season, but it is one worth keeping an eye on.namesf the popular names already floating around the rumor mill is Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, a former Fordham head coach. The timing feels weird for a coach firing too, which might suggest UConn already has a replacement ready to step in. Whether that would be Moorhead or not remains to be seen as of now.

UConn head coach Bob Diaco defends an indefensible play that resulted in loss to Navy

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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?”

Uh, NO!

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.

UConn coaching shuffle adds Frank Verducci at OC

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If UConn head coach Bob Diaco has a plan to get more physical on offense, that responsibility will now fall on new offensive coordinator Frank Verducci. Verducci was named offensive coordinator for the Huskies Monday morning.

Verducci comes to UConn from Northern Iowa, where we took on the duties as offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Verducci brings some NFL experience to the UConn program after serving as a scout for the St. Louis Rams.

The addition of Verducci is just one part of the offensive coaching staff shuffle in Storrs. Diaco made it a point of emphasis last month with the dismissal of offensive line coach Mike Foley to increase the toughness of the offense, starting up front. With Verducci being added to the staff, Football Scoop reports Wayne Lineburg will be the new quarterbacks coach after coaching receivers and special teams in 2014. Don Patterson will also move from quarterbacks to tight ends. Finally, per Football Scoop, David Corley will move from coaching running backs in 2014 to receivers and special teams in 2015.

Diaco has said the evaluation for the program at the end of the season goes not just for players, but also for the coaches as well. UConn has plenty of work to do as a program, and perhaps mixing things up could pay off. Could this be too many changes too soon though? The inability to provide stability on the coaching staff could be a problem for some programs, but if Diaco can manage the ship well enough and find the right mix of coaching at each position on the staff, it could be worth it.