Last Monday, reports emerged that UConn would be appointing Frank Verducci to offensive coordinator after Mike Cummings was demoted and relieved of those responsibilities. Later that day, the Huskies made the news official and announced a shuffling of the offensive staff as well.
To start, Wayne Lineburg will be taking over quarterback coach responsibilities-- moving from his previous post coaching wide receivers and special teams. Before UConn, Lineburg spent three years at Richmond where he held multiple roles including running backs coach, offensive coordinator, associate head coach and even interim head coach.
Additionally, Don Patterson will be moving from quarterbacks coach to tight end coach while maintaining the associate head coach title. Patterson has the closest tie to UConn's new offensive coordinator as both he and Verducci were on the legendary Hayden Fry's staff at Iowa while Bob Diaco went there. Patterson served as offensive coordinator from 1992-1998 with Verducci working under him as offensive line coach and running game coordinator.
To my untrained eye, it appears that both Lineburg and Patterson are eminently more qualified than the guy who will be managing them next year.
Verducci has worked for nine different teams in the 15-plus years since he left Iowa, including a different team in each of the past seven years. Most recently he was coaching tight ends and offensive tackles at FCS Northern Iowa.
Before that, he spent a year with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes as the offensive line coach, where he was fired. He was not coaching in 2012 and in 2011 he was brought onto Will Muschamp's staff on the Florida Gators by his former boss at Notre Dame, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
This is when UConn's announcement of the hire really tried to pull a fast one on us:
Verducci was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Florida and helped lead the Gators to a 24-17 win over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.
This Gator Bowl actually featured two 6-6 teams, so while both programs are historically very good that was not the case in 2011. I've also never heard of an offensive line coach leading a team to a bowl win.
That Florida team went 7-6 in Will Muschamp's disastrous first season, a season where the Gators' offense finished 97th in Football Outsiders' FEI Offensive Efficiency ranking. To be fair, the run-heavy attack did produce some decent numbers but if you're running the ball 36 times a game they way they were, you need to be gaining more than 4.0 yards per carry.
Ohio State finished that season with a 6-7 record, their first sub-.500 season since 1999. This was the year the Buckeyes unexpectedly lost head coach Jim Tressel and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the off-season amidst NCAA investigations.
While schools like Florida and Ohio State are definitely great programs, this was not a good year for either of them. There is nothing impressive about this one-year stint. Try again, UConn.
Try again they did. Here was the next insult to our intelligence:
Verducci was the offensive line and run game coordinator at Notre Dame during the 2009 season as the Irish ranked eighth in the country in total offense at 451.75 yards per game. He coached six offensive linemen that were later selected in the NFL Draft.
This was Weis' final year as head coach at Notre Dame, a season which ended 6-6 although it appears that was mostly due to a leaky defense. Once again, though, this was a run-first team which averaged a paltry 3.8 yards per carry on 33 rushing attempts per game. For the sake of comparison, the 2013 Stanford Cardinal ran the ball nearly 42 times per game, but managed to average five yards per attempt.
But UConn wasn't done trying to sell us on this guy (god bless the hard-working individual tasked with this fool's errand):
While with the Cowboys, Verducci's offensive line helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith to break the all-time NFL career rushing record
Because watching a 12-year veteran running back cling onto his playing days in order to break a cumulative career record is definitely relevant for the offensive line coach who only spent that one year on the team. Those Cowboys, quarterbacked by Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson, finished 5-11 under head coach Dave Campo. Verducci's offensive line gave up 54 sacks.
Emmitt Smith rushed for a gentlemanly 975 yards on 254 carries, averaging 3.8 ypc that season.
So our new offensive coordinator is boys with Charlie Weis, can't seem to hold down a job at any level and never has held this senior of a position in his 31 years as a football coach. What exactly makes him qualified to be our offensive coordinator?
I'm not angry, just a little bewildered. Would a "power five" team hire someone with these qualifications to be their offensive coordinator? Was this really the best option to fix one of the worst offenses in college football?
Verducci's saving grace may be that he is a good recruiter in New Jersey and the Northeast, according to some tweets I've seen and some comments on an old article from SB Nation's UF site, Alligator Army. Additionally, this is pure guesswork here but, I think there's a possibility that Lineburg or Mike Cummings is being groomed for the offensive coordinator position and that perhaps Verducci is here to help out with recruiting and provide some sage wisdom for this young staff. Maybe he came at a discount for this more consultative role.
This was a missed opportunity for UConn to incite the fanbase. Perhaps a hire with a stronger background would have motivated a boost in ticket sales or overall excitement surrounding the program. Unfortunately, Bob Diaco made a decision which eerily reminds me of a previous regime.
That being said, obviously Warde Manuel, Bob Diaco and Frank Verducci know a whole lot more about football than we do. Let's be sure to keep an open mind and hope for the best going into the season.