In this article, I will focus on four of the more visible roles and share some information I have been able to glean from my various sources. Today we'll learn more about our new Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks coach, and Defensive Coordinators.
Mike Cummings, Offensive Coordinator
Mike Cummings will be Bob Diaco's Offensive Coordinator after four years holding the same position at Central Michigan, where he was also the O-line coach. At UConn he will also coach the Tight Ends.
The 1984 Buffalo graduate made a couple of stops before holding down CMU's O-line duties from 1992-1997. He spent one year under Nick Saban as Special Teams Coordinator at Michigan State before rotating through Eastern, Western and Central Michigan primarily as an offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. He has been at CMU as Offensive Coordinator/O-line since 2010.
Cummings oversaw some prolific offenses in his tenure as their Offensive Coordinator, in his first year they finished 3rd in the MAC in Yards/Game. According to Tom McElgunn, who covers CMU for SB Nation's Hustle Belt, he "deserves as much credit as anyone" for the development of NFL #1 Draft Pick Eric Fisher and "was generally regarded as the most talented member of the CMU coaching staff." The skinny is that he lost some control of the offense towards the end because CMU head coach Dan Enos hired Moe Watts, his mentor and former OC/QB coach from when he played at Michigan State. Understandably miffed by this slight, it isn't a surprise to most people close to the organization that he was looking to move on. Cummings admirably never said anything negative about the situation.
Cummings and Diaco started working together at Eastern Michigan, where Bob was LB/RB coach from 2001-2003 and Cummings coached D-Line and Special Teams. They also were on the same staff at Western Michigan in 2004 where Diaco was coaching Linebackers and Special Teams and Cummings had O-line duties. Those two years must have made a pretty good impression on Diaco because he has tasked Cummings with turning around a downright bashful offense that pulled itself up to 20.6ppg last year thanks to the defensive generosity of SMU, Temple, Rutgers and Memphis. The year before in the Big East UConn averaged a gentlemanly 17.8ppg. There are questions about O-line quality and depth next year- this man certainly has his work cut out for him.
Don Patterson, Associate Head Coach and Quarterbacks Coach
Don Patterson comes to UConn from the University at Buffalo where he was QB Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. He is credited with the development of current starter Joe Licata, who is one of the better Quarterbacks to suit up for the Bulls. Before Buffalo, Patterson was the head coach for 10 years at FCS Western Illinois where he went a respectable 63-47 before stepping down due to health concerns. There were reports that Patterson and the AD were not on the same page and that Patterson was essentially forced to step down.
Patterson was on the staff of legendary Iowa Head Coach Hayden Fry from 1979-1998, serving as Offensive Coordinator for the final six years. Diaco played for Iowa when he was in that role. The 1997 Iowa offense was first in the Big Ten in scoring and rushing yards, which was good enough for ninth and eighth in the country respectively. During his tenure at Iowa, he coached numerous NFL Draft picks and Iowa record holders and the Hawkeyes made three Rose Bowls and 14 Bowl Appearances. Patterson is part of a coaching tree which includes Bret Bielema, Kirk Ferentz and the Stoops brothers.
He brings a wealth of experience into his role for the Huskies coaching the game's most important position. Quarterback has been a weakness for UConn since Dan Orlovsky's departure in 2004 but we've actually been able to rope in some solid talent with Connecticut 3-star recruits Casey Cochran and Tim Boyle, who will be in the running for the starting quarterback position. Patterson will be tasked with finding a starter and figuring out what to do about the fact that he has two talented sophomores. Does Boyle redshirt this season if he can't beat out Cochran? That's what I would do in my video game franchise, not sure if it's that simple in real life.
The 1973 West Point graduate who bears a striking resemblance to Burt Reynolds will have to work closely with Mike Cummings. Just an observation- the two of them have no background of working together. Patterson is pretty much the only old person on the staff besides retained O-Line coach Mike Foley and D-line coach Kevin Wolthausen. This will be a much younger crew than the one under Paul Pasqualoni.
Anthony Pointdexter, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
Pointdexter, ohhh that's fun. Our new defensive coordinator was an All-American safety at UVA in 1997 and 1998. He chose to stay in school for his senior year instead of declaring for the NFL Draft and suffered an injury in the 1998-99 season which caused him to fall to the 7th round after he was unable to participate in the NFL Combine or UVA Pro Day. After 2 years in the NFL, he became a Graduate Assistant at UVA before moving on to coach Running Backs- a post he held for four years until 2008 before moving to Defensive Backs and Special Teams. This is his first year as a Defensive Coordinator, but he will of course have the Defensive minded Diaco to lean on and a Co-Defensive Coordinator also from the Virginia staff.
As somebody who grew up in Virginia and is one of the best players in ACC history while at UVA, Pointdexter should be a very good recruiter. Southern Virginia all the way up to Baltimore is fertile recruiting territory and the Virginia native should have a number of connections in the state after 10 years coaching at UVA.
Vincent Brown, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Vincent Brown enjoyed an eight year NFL career after being drafted by the Patriots in the second round out of Mississippi Valley State University in 1988. He started 103 games and made three consecutive All-Pro teams from 1991-1993. That is a very impressive professional career for a college assistant coach.
Brown started his coaching career in 2001 at Meadowbrook HS near his hometown of Atlanta. He spent the 2006 season coaching inside linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2007 was a graduate assistant at UVA. He then spent two season at Richmond coaching linebackers for the school that won 2009's FCS Championship. He came back to UVA in 2012 to coach Linebackers and Special Teams.
The Defensive Coordinators inherit a team that has been solid defensively but still has room for improvement, especially in the secondary. According to our counterparts from Streaking the Lawn, both Brown and Pointdexter are seen as good recruiters and high energy guys so they should mesh nicely with Diaco and hopefully fill up his energy bucket.
We'll look at the rest of the coaches later, but from the looks of it Bob Diaco is putting together a pretty strong crew. Patterson's experience and long history with Diaco should go a long way to helping out a coaching staff that is quite young at the key positions. The two Defensive Coordinators are inexperienced, but under the tutelage of Diaco should be able to produce excellent results on the field. I really like that both of them have accomplished track records as players, that will go a long way in the living rooms of high-potential recruits. I am optimistic that Vincent Browns distinguished pro pedigree will allow us to keep pumping out NFL linebackers and that Pointdexter can help bring some of that southern VA talent up to Storrs. New Offensive Coordinator Mike Cummings has experienced success in the role and I like that his background in the Offensive Line means that he understands the importance of owning the line of scrimmage- something Diaco mentioned in his introductory press conference. He will make sure that future iterations of the UConn Huskies are not lacking for quality linemen.
Overall this news is interesting and it's good to know that the staff has filled out nicely- it seems as though Bob Diaco has done a good job blending experience teachers with young go-getters. What do you think Husky fans? Does anyone remember watching Brown or Pointdexter play? How about Patterson's offenses in Iowa? Does the pedigree of this staff meet your expectations?