The honeymoon between former UConn Huskies football coach Bob Diaco and Nebraska Cornhusker fans and media is officially over. After he was hired in January, Corn Nation seemed to be enjoying the show he put on, something UConn fans can certainly relate to.
However, in the Huskers’ season opener against Arkansas State, Diaco’s defense gave up a whopping 497 yards. For reference, last season the Red Wolves rated as the No. 93 offense in the nation in yards-per-game.
With such a rough performance in his debut, fans were understandably upset. After all, he’s the highest-paid assistant in program history. Reporters were ready to speak to Diaco postgame to get some answers. Well... Bobby D had different plans.
Bob Diaco did not talk with reporters following Saturday's Arkansas State game.— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) September 3, 2017
Four days after the game, Diaco finally addressed the media. Shockingly, he put the blame on someone else. From Omaha.com (Emphasis added):
“I was under the impression that I didn’t have to do postgame media — that’s what I was told.”
It gets better.
“Contrary to at least what was depicted, I’ve never run away from anything in my life. I’ve never not stood up and been accountable and accountable and responsible to my work and what I’ve been entrusted to do. That’s never happened and hasn’t and will not ever happen. So to be painted in that light or that way is absolutely ridiculous and very disappointing to me.”
Diaco stating he’s always “been accountable,” is a laugh riot.
Where to start?
There was that time last season at Navy when he ran the ball at the 1-yard line but failed to get a play in and the clock ran out. This happened because Diaco forgot what down it was and burned the team’s last timeout after the clock stopped.
“[Navy] wouldn’t let everyone off the ground,” explained Diaco on why the clock ran out.
“I’m not making any excuses, I’m taking full accountability,” he followed up.
Let’s not forget when the ConFLiCT (RIP) blew up in his face after UCF left the trophy on the sideline after their 24-16 victory last season. In his weekly presser the next week, Diaco blamed as many different parties as he could as he completely lost his composure when asked about the failure of the rivalry game. He felt he should’ve been free from ANY scrutiny.
His most egregious act was the handling of Bryant Shirreffs as the starting quarterback last season. After the disaster that was the 41-3 loss to East Carolina, Diaco benched Shirreffs in favor of true freshman Donovan Williams. The coach threw his former starter under the bus, saying “He did a good job and he tried hard and it didn't work out for him or the offense. I'm accountable to that.”
Except, it wasn’t that simple. That’s not why Shirreffs struggled, besides, of course, the team’s horrendous offensive strategy.
Instead, he suffered a displaced rib in the third game of the season against Virginia and played through the pain, struggling to breathe during contests. Shirreffs never made an excuse or blamed his performance on the injury, despite it being a major contributor to his subpar play.
Diaco should’ve taken his quarterback out after the injury in week three, or at least acknowledged that an injury contributed to the benching. Shirreffs is one of the toughest athletes to wear a UConn jersey and only wanted to do his best for the team. Ultimately, it’s up to a coach to protect his player, or at least stand up for him amidst scrutiny, and Diaco failed.
Replacing Shirreffs was true freshman Donovan Williams. Not only did Diaco burn a developmental prospect’s redshirt with three games to go in a lost season, the signal caller was dealing with a meniscus injury in his left knee at the time!
It’s not as if they were out of options at quarterback. It would be one thing if Shirreffs couldn’t go and they were forced to play Williams. They had senior Garrett Anderson, who was perfectly healthy. But he never saw the field.
By playing both players, Diaco put his career and aspirations and ahead of the health and well-being of those two young men.
To top off the masterpiece known as the Bob Diaco Era at UConn, this past offseason, before getting fired, he refused to meet with promising offensive coordinator candidate Jerry Kill for the vacant position. He also wanted “a complete ban on media coverage,” according to the Hartford Courant.
Real accountable, Bob.