It looks like Warde Manuel has found his guy.
UConn has officially announced the hiring of Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco as head coach of the football program, and a press conference introducing Diaco will be held this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
The deal is reportedly worth $1.5 million per year annually for five years.
Diaco, 40, has served as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator since 2010, and under his direction the Irish's defensive have been consistently strong. Over the past four years, Notre Dame's defense has allowed 22.9, 12.8, 20.7 and 22.2 points per game, and in 2012 he helped coach the Irish to the National Championship game.
Diaco also won the Broyles Award, which is annually given to the nation's top assistant coach, in 2012. He was also a semifinalist for the award in 2011.
Prior to his arrival in South Bend, Diaco coached for one season as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati, who tasked him with replacing 10 starters on defense from a team that had reached the Orange Bowl the year before. The team wound up going undefeated through the regular season before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Originally from Cedar Grove, N.J., Diaco played linebacker at Iowa in the mid 1990s before taking his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at the school. He would go on to serve as an assistant at Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan before landing his first big job as Brian Kelly's co-defensive coordinator at Central Michigan in 2005.
He went on to serve as linebacker and special teams coach for three years at Virginia before he rejoined Kelly's staff at Cincinnati and then followed him to Notre Dame.
Based on what I've read so far, I love this hire for UConn. Diaco sounds like exactly the kind of guy who UConn needed to get, and this hire should send a message that UConn is serious about football and isn't content with being the second rate also-ran it became under Paul Pasqualoni.
For starters, Diaco is a young guy getting is his first head coaching opportunity. Needless to say, he's going to be motivated and he's undoubtably going to want to show the world that he can be a big time coach. In other words, he's basically the polar opposite of Paul Pasqualoni.
Second, he has a proven track record of success and has demonstrated an ability to turn around bad situations quickly. According to One Foot Down, he was a major factor in turning around Notre Dame's "woeful" 2009 defense, and as I mentioned earlier, he completely rebuilt Cincinnati's defense and helped guide them to a second straight BCS appearance.
Third, he was an award-winning assistant coach at Notre Dame. We may not all like Notre Dame, but that name resonates nationally and people will take notice of this hire. Right now UConn badly needs a change in perception, and this hire will definitely help with that.
Fourth, and most importantly, take a look at that picture. Tell me who he reminds you of.