In quite the surprising turn of events, Athletic Director David Benedict has relieved Bob Diaco of his responsibilities as the head coach of UConn Football, effective January 2.
The timing of this decision, quite late in the process, was to reduce the hit of Diaco’s recently-negotiated buyout. Previously at $5 million, the buyout will now be a doable, I guess, $3.4 million. Perhaps Benedict negotiated it further down, who knows.
“I know this may come as a surprise to our fans and supporters given the timing of this decision,” Benedict said in an official release from the school. “However, it became apparent to me that a change in program direction is necessary at this time.”
Diaco went 2-10, 6-7, and 3-9 in his three seasons at the helm, 11-26 overall. He was hired by Warde Manuel two years after winning the Broyles Award for best assistant in the country as Brian Kelly’s defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.
Diaco’s third season was no garden variety disappointment, however, it was a downward spiral into incompetence which saw the team perform worse than it ever had in his tenure. The Huskies lost their final four games by a combined score of 130-16.
Towards the end of that season, a very disturbing story came out regarding Diaco’s handling of Bryant Shirreffs’ injury, an alarming mismanagement which goes beyond bad play calls or poor clock management. Perhaps a further review of the situation gave Benedict cause for concern.
At the end of the 2016 season, Benedict and Diaco embarked on a journey to hire a new offensive coordinator. A job posting recently made its way to UConn’s employment site, but maybe the group project wasn’t going well. Now it looks like the whole staff is going to be replaced.
Some obvious names that UConn needs to be putting calls out to are Joe Moorhead and Don Brown, two Big Ten coordinators who have previously served on UConn’s staff and are currently doing a great job recruiting the Northeast.
Moorhead, in particular, is of great interest, having done well as the head coach at Fordham and as Penn State’s offensive coordinator. NBC’s Kevin Nathan’s sources are saying he’s a leading candidate while ESPN’s Steve Levy is hearing it “might already be done.” Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde believes a “successor could emerge within 24-48 hours,” but that it isn’t Joe Moorhead, so welcome (back) to head coaching search hysteria.
This could not have been an easy decision for Benedict, but ultimately I do believe something else happened beyond the results of the season to reach this decision. To speculate on what it could be would be irresponsible, but it seemed a month ago that Benedict was set on retaining Diaco for at least one more year. Beyond just the buyout, continuity also made sense for the program given the recent tumult.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation and look into possible replacements. Happy Holidays!