While most college football fans are eagerly anticipating a bowl appearance from their favorite team, dutiful Husky football fans are busy wondering whether or not three wins against Temple, Rutgers and Memphis warrants any optimism heading into next season. Well that, and a head coaching search you may have heard a thing or two about. We've heard a lot of different things about potential candidates for the UConn football Head Coaching job ever since Paul Pasqualoni was fired, but lets try to sift through some of the noise.
The day after Pasqualoni was fired, SB Nation's Pete Volk provided an immediate look at some names that might end up on Warde Manuel's short list. I was pretty skeptical about most of those suggestions because it seemed like those were among the best candidates for any head coaching opening and maybe UConn wouldn't be in a position to land any of those choice names. With a winless season brewing along with the conference situation and the regions lack of talent and fervor for college football, I did not see outsiders finding UConn to be a very attractive opportunity. With USC's head coaching vacancy and a few other potential openings in Nebraska and Texas, I didn't think UConn would have an honest shot at those guys.
Across the next two months or so, there were really only two other names that popped up. Apparently Houston Nutt was asking around about Connecticut's local talent. When Pete Volk reported the news on SB Nation, I innocently asked the fans from his last two stops (Arkansas and Ole Miss) to guide me as to what I should think. What ensued was one of the funniest, if not the funniest, comments section have ever seen on SB Nation. Seriously, look at it. And then look at these posts from Ole Miss' SB Nation site Red Cup Rebellion (1, .2, 3, 4). While it might be entertaining, we probably didn't want this cartoon character leading Connecticut football. Those rumors didn't seem to gain legs, so... crisis averted. A short while later Dan Mullens name churned up in the rumor mill, but his candidacy seems unlikely unless he gets fired after a decent season at Mississippi State. We also heard longtime Virginia Tech DC Bud Fosters name mentioned, but he has denied any contact from the University.
About one month later, Bruce Feldman reported three names who were ‘in the mix' for the job: Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Ball State Head Coach Pete Lembo and UCLA Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone. The first two were on Pete Volk's list from earlier and the third was new. But what does it mean to be "in the mix"? How is this ‘news' making it to beat writers? Ultimately, being in the mix means virtually nothing so I was content to wait until we heard something more concrete to make any commentary.
By the end of the season, things turned out quite nicely for UConn in the sense that there weren't too many major coaching vacancies out there. USC was looking, but they quickly hired former Trojan assistant and Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Other than UConn, the only FBS schools looking for new football coaches were Wake Forest, Boise State and Wyoming. Boise looks to be going in-house and Wyoming hired a very successful FCS coach from North Dakota State. Wake's candidate list has some overlap with ours but they're really the only one and aren't that much of a threat. All of a sudden it seemed like UConn would have a shot at some of the better candidates out there: the successful mid-major head coaches and assistants from major programs. Good.
UConn must feel pretty confident in their short list because some really good coaches tell me they can’t get their calls returned— FootballScoop Staff (@footballscoop) December 6, 2013
In the past two days, things have things picked up and we finally have some relevant news to report. Warde Manuel held a press conference on Saturday to address the head coaching search. He asserted no preference towards an offensive or defensive minded coach and no preference towards head coaching experience. I was pleased to see that he does not believe that money will be an issue in finding the right candidate. With recruiting currently in a dead period, Manuel is likely to make a decision within the coming weeks so that the new guy can get moving once coaches are allowed to make recruiting visits in Mid-January. He chose not to comment on Weist's candidacy for the job, but it seems as though TJ will be at least interviewing.
#UConn to interview interim coach T.J. Weist for the full-time job tomorrow, per source. Won last three to end year.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) December 8, 2013
We also have found out that the highly regarded Dave Clawson, currently head man at Bowling Green, is interviewing at Wake Forest and reportedly is not a candidate for the Connecticut opening. Also, Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio confirmed that UConn has requested to interview Pat Narduzzi and speculation is that he is interviewing this week. We've also recently heard that Pete Lembo is interviewing today.
Sources tell me Ball State coach Pete Lembo is interviewing today with UConn AD Warde Manuel in Atlanta. Ticker: http://t.co/AyFaILXIBJ— Pete Roussel (@coachingsearch) December 9, 2013
Great article on Narduzzi, his aggressive style of play, and the art of defensive scheme-making in general
He may or may not be a candidate for the position, but even so this is still a very interesting read
And lastly, some words of encouragement from our blog's former Manager:
Also, no matter who winds up coaching UConn, this search is miles ahead of the the absolute disaster that was Hathaway's search.— Red-nosed Reinstairs (@NoEscalators) December 9, 2013
So that is present state UConn fans. We have some rumored names thrown around, and we can confirm that TJ Weist, Pete Lembo and Pat Narduzzi are most likely interviewing this week. We'll be doing our best to keep you up to date, but feel free to share information as you hear it.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@TheUConnBlog, @UConnFB_Andrew) for continuous updates on the situation and let's hope this saga ends with some great news that we can look back on as a turning point for the football program.
UPDATE: We're hearing that Pat Narduzzi interviewed today and that there's more info to come, could it be?
http://t.co/II9lfjjijC has learned that Pat Narduzzi interviewed today in Atlanta with UConn. More on the ticker soon...— Pete Roussel (@coachingsearch) December 11, 2013
UPDATE: Maybe not
Per source: If Mack Brown steps down it could delay hiring at UConn as coaches wait to see the domino effect of what jobs may open. "Could"— Kevin Nathan (@KevinNathanNBC) December 11, 2013