Why You Should Be Thrilled About Bob Diaco to UCONN

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

No, that title isn’t click-bait. Notre Dame football fans should all be genuinely excited that yet another coach has been plucked from the ranks of Brian Kelly’s staff.

First, it was Chuck Martin to the “Cradle of Coaches” at Miami University and now, Bob Diaco is off to take the reigns of UCONN, securing a 5 year, $1.5 million/year contract according to Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports.

UPDATE: Diaco’s final contract is now a confirmed 5-year, $8 million contract. Diaco’s contact also includes a one month salary  as a bonus for making a bowl game and up to $400,000 bonus for winning the National Title, and a $500k retention bonus if he remains UCONN’s head coach at the end of his contract (Dec 31, 2018).

Yes, I am slightly bummed that we are losing a Broyles Award winner and a coach that is universally loved by his players. I know that many female Irish fans will also be heartbroken that Diaco and his perfect hair will no longer be a regular appearance during ND telecasts (stay strong, loyal daughters!). But still, we should be happy about this.

In his fourth year, Brian Kelly has now produced three head coaches from his staff. College football as a whole is taking notice of the coaching staff in South Bend and, as Kelly has said several times in his pressers, he knows his guys aren’t going to make lateral moves. If you want a coach from Kelly’s staff, you’d better be offering him a head coaching gig.

Compare this to the Weis era in which defensive coordinators were fired, swapped out, and made co-coordinators seemingly every year. As for the rest of his staff, David Cutcliffe, Duke’s current head coach, is the only former Weis staffer to still have a head coaching gig. However, Cutcliffe never really worked a season under Weis as a heart surgery forced him to resign before the 2005 season, but he resurfaced later as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for two years, which eventually landed him his current head coaching gig. Michael Haywood also had a shot at a head coaching gig, serving as Miami University’s head coach for two years, getting hired by Pitt, but was arrested for domestic battery which immediately halted his career. Rob Ianello was the only other coach to get a head coaching gig as he was hired by the Akron Zips after Weis’ firing; however, after two seasons he was fired and is now a recruiting coordinator for Weis’ Kansas Jayhawks.

Errata: As a comment points out below, Brian Polian is a Weis staffer with a head coaching job. Much like Cutcliffe though, he didn’t get his head coaching gig until he served as an assistant on another staff. After Weis was fired, Polian was hired by Jim Harbaugh to serve as Stanford’s special team’s coach in 2010. David Shaw retained Polian for the 2011 after Harbaugh went to the NFL. The following season, Kevin Sumlin placed Polian on his Texas A&M staff in the same role. From there, he finally catapulted into a head coaching job at Nevada this season where he has gone 4-8.

Not exactly an impressive coaching tree to say the least.

Time will tell how successful Kelly’s tree will be. While Charley Molnar isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire at UMass (only 2 wins in two seasons, ouch), both Martin and Diaco represent a great opportunity for some solid roots to form. From a program building perspective it’s great as it makes an assistant coach job at Notre Dame even more attractive. Come to ND, prove you have what it takes, and teams will call — not exactly something that we’ve been able to say for the past decade-plus.

The two vacant coordinator slots also presents an opportunity for Kelly to breathe a bit of new life into the program while also maintaining some level of continuity. The overall path of the program won’t change or require a complete upheaval, but injecting new blood into the coaching staff can be a great motivational tool to push a team to even greater heights. After all, now there is a new guy to impress and his opinions could be drastically different than the last coach.

Even if Kelly promotes from within, the same logic stands. Even though with a higher level of familiarity, there is still a new guy to impress and it’s still one whose phone could very well ring in another season or two with a head coaching gig attached on the other end.

Simply put, both players and coaches will be pushing for that next step and constant competition breeds success.

Looking even further out into the future, this coaching tree could very well produce the next head coach of Notre Dame when the Kelly era eventually comes to an end. With real head coaching experience under their belt, Martin or Diaco (or even someone else in the future) could package their familiarity with Notre Dame into a solid resume that would result in a great future hire.

Basically, that kind of a situation prevents a Bob Davie, who got his first head coaching experience with the Irish (horrible idea) and gives you a better chance of producing an Urban Meyer (but with less questionable practices and more werewolf awesome).

So don’t take too much stock in knee-jerk reactions, especially those of players who have a personal relationship with their coaches. In this day and age, it’s impossible to leave for another job gracefully or even without your current players finding out. The last thing you want to do is make it public to them that you are trying to get a job that may not even be offered. Unfortunately, once it is offered and accepted, someone is going to find out and let the world know before the ink dries — it’s coaching’s catch-22. Even if you do get a chance to tell your team face-to-face, it doesn’t always end well, just ask Brian Kelly how well that went.

No coaching departure ever goes smoothly. Feathers will be ruffled and feelings might even be hurt, but in the end, these hires are good for Notre Dame as a whole.

Oh, and if your worried that there isn’t good history of teams losing multiple assistants and performing well the following year, there was a team last year that lost six assistant coaches after a 12-2 season. This year, Florida State will play for the National Title against Auburn.

Next man in.

About NDtex

Texan by birth, Irish by choice.

Born and raised in the great state of Texas, Tex is a first-generation Domer and a former student manager. After graduation, he left the cold winters of South Bend behind and returned back to his home state with a computer engineering degree in tow. Missing the daily grind of working football practices and talking football with fellow Irish fans every day, he took to blogging, a path which eventually led him to Her Loyal Sons. Continuously diving into stats and game film, Tex strives to break down every aspect of Fighting Irish football--even though it's determined to kill him.

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  • Matthias

    I think his name is Bruce Feldman, not “Brian” as you stated. I know, lack of sleep. Nice posi-spin!

    • NDtex

      Too many B-names. Thanks for the catch.

  • Bayou Irish

    I don’t think Tex’s article is “posi-spin.” I work here, so take it for what it’s worth, but I’m not getting “spin.” I think it’s a critical point to make: we need great things to happen for our coaches as well as our players. In the same way we need kids going pro in their junior and senior seasons (leaving early), we need coaches to go on to “better” gigs. Notre Dame is becoming, again, a place where the best want to go. Aside from Tuitt’s face-palm tweet last night (almost immediately deleted), the reaction from the players has been largely accepting, if not positive. We’re fans and nitwits, so we bloviate and bellow like oxen stuck on a levee. It’s what we do. The only thing that concerns me, and I put so many conditions on it that I am concerned in the same way, now, that I am about a comet striking us, is the effect on recruiting. Bottom line there is that we don’t know until the August who will be at school. Vanderdoes taught us that Signing Day is really not worth a lot anymore. So that’s that.

  • https://twitter.com/DrBDT David Tyler

    Another Weis product: Brian Polian is the head coach of Nevada.

    • NDtex

      Putting in an errata now.

      Much like Cutcliffe though, Polian didn’t get his head coaching gig until after he served as an assistant on another staff.

  • The Biscuit

    Disagree here. He was our 2nd best recruiter and a solid DC. Bummed and believe fans should be bummed. Yes I would rather have in-demand coaches than sucky ones, but I would prefer to keep them. With a reload at D next year I think we really needed Diaco. But I am hopeful that BK can land a stellar replacement.

    • NDtex

      I’m not saying people shouldn’t be bummed. I’m bummed too, but from an overall program health perspective, this is territory that we haven’t seen in very, VERY long time.

    • http://www.tidecoys.com rob suess

      I don’t think the defense will miss a beat. I’ve heard Bob’s defense is complicated and that’s why some players haven’t seen the field early. I hate to see the d line a yard, yard n a half off of the ball. I think it will be good to get some fresh blood on the coaching staff on both sides of the ball.

    • http://twitter.com/IDtheMIKE Matt Holly Jolly Q. (@IDtheMIKE)

      I’m not sure he was even our 5th best recruiter this year.

  • http://NDNation.com Bill

    Great, dont let the door hit you in the A***s, Bob.
    As I commented here several weeks back after the miserable loss to Pitt, where we could not tackle worth a flip (have not tackled all season)…Diaco needs to go…I bet he was told by Kelly that he is a short-timer…..He only had one good season and that was because he has Manti Teo, this yaer he was exposed….we need string lines on both sides of the ball and we need to stop this arm tackeling…if we ever expect to play at or near the level of Stanford, Alabama and Auburn. I hope Kelly gets someone good, and not form inside…get someone form the SEC. Bill ’76

    • http://ndeddiemac.tumblr.com NDEddieMac

      I’m pretty sure a string line would be super easy to break through on both sides of the ball. You are terrible at spelling and football analysis. Come on, Stanford is what you are trying to be? This is the same DC that had the best D in the country and is known for being one of the best recruiters in the game, but cool story, bro. Go back to NDN or forget how to use the internet please. Eddie ’03 (NOBODY GIVES A DAMN WHEN YOU GRADUATED)

    • IrishElvis

      Your comment leaves me with a great deal of questions:

      You say we need to stop arm tackling, but the one time Tuitt *doesn’t* tackle using his arms, he gets flagged for targeting.

      And I hope you mean we should play at the level of 2013 Auburn, because last year’s Auburn…

      You hope Kelly gets a good DC, but not someone internal — can you advise why no one internal is good, or that an external candidate is necessarily more talented?

    • http://twitter.com/BrianJMcKeown Brian McKeown (@BrianJMcKeown)

      Bob Diaco has multiple asses?

    • NDtex

      Interesting that you want to play at the level of Auburn because their defense is simply awful as were many of the SEC defenses this season.

      Notre Dame outperformed half of the SEC defenses in average yards/game (and keep in mind these are teams that have FCS schools on their schedules). As far as points/game go, ND was only outperformed by five SEC defenses (Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, LSU, and Missouri).

      Pay more attention to the rest of college football please.

  • Bayou Irish

    Don’t stop at the Pitt game, Bill ’76. Our defense was bamboozled and befuddled (you sound like someone who appreciates the alliterative ambulations of Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier) against Purdue, too. And since you’re looking to make the new DC responsible for ensuring that we have “string” lines on “both sides of the ball,” why not just have him coach the QB’s as well? Since they’re asked to throw “on a rope” and all. While you’re probably right that we’ve got no one internal to do the job, I’d look at other SEC teams, like Clemson.

  • http://NDnation.com Bill

    Ok. I cant spell..I was in a hurry…besides everyone understood what I meant…Why hire from outside…a quality person from outside brings a fresh perspective….Auburn this year is for real and will be for several years now; In his 1st year,Gus Malzhan has installed a heavily updated verstion of the 1940′s Delaware wing Tee option scheme and with quality four and five star talent running it, they are impossible to stop. I live in the southeast and delta on the level of play between the top SEC teams and ND is significant…. I mention Stanford because they have the same academic limitation we do and yet they still have produced a top 5 team….ND needs to get real if they are serious about being a contender…playing Rutgers in a very minor bowl is unacceptable ….why dont you have spell check on here? I want my Irish to be real…Bill ’76

    • NDtex

      So let me get this straight…you spent your entire first comment saying Diaco was worthless and you are proving that point by mentioning Auburn’s offense. You have to be kidding me. Calling their offense unstoppable is also rather hilarious as two of their major victories (Gerogia and Alabama) came of some of the craziest luck that I’ve ever seen (and I say this as an Auburn fan).

      Also, in case you forgot, Notre Dame went to THE DAMN NATIONAL TITLE GAME last season. We had a _minor_ issue of not having the same QB that led us to said title game, hence the disappointing season. The team is more “real” than you give them credit for.

      This season was also BCS or bust because ND had no bowl tie-ins. Thus, the “unacceptable” game with Rutgers. If we were a member of a conference, we get a better matchup, but I want no part of that so I’m happy to eat a crappy bowl matchup to preserve football independence. In future seasons, the ACC agreements solve that issue should we miss the playoffs.

      Again, pay attention to the entire CFB landscape.

      As far as spell check, download a browser that isn’t named Internet Explorer.

    • http://ndeddiemac.tumblr.com NDEddieMac

      If only ND had produced a top 5 team recently. But you’re right, Stanford’s last title win should really make ND fans jealous. Given many like you are stuck in the year 1940, I can understand the Tree envy. Or if only ND had a defense like Auburn’s that gives up more points a game than ND. If you want to run out one of the top DC’s in the country, cool story, bro. I want my Irish to not be besieged by insane people………….”stupid signature people still don’t care about”

    • Mayhem

      So Bill 76, (if that is your real name), let me understand this, we should run an offense from 1940? Is this going forward by going backward? Very Taoist idea. By the way, is your favorite movie Turk 182 by any chance?

      • http://twitter.com/BrianJMcKeown Brian McKeown (@BrianJMcKeown)

        You missed “heavily updated” or, in other words, “completely different”.

    • http://twitter.com/IDtheMIKE Matt Holly Jolly Q. (@IDtheMIKE)

      I forget, Bill. Which BCS NC Game did Stanford appear in? I’ve got time. I’ll wait for you to look it up.

  • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

    Im only bummed because of A) the timing(Losing both Coordinators within a week of each other sucks) and B) because I think Bob could have done better. UConn…really? Why? Non-football school, no recruiting advantage, no talent, no history. I hope he doesnt linger there and lose hope because all he can muster are 4-win seasons. Should have waited another year or for a better location.

  • Bayou Irish

    “A heavily updated version of the 1940′s Delaware wing tee scheme.” Isn’t that like saying “we beat the Iraqis with heavily updated P-38′s”? I’d “posi-spin” (my other favorite phrase from today) it the other way: “did you see that heavily updated 1879 Walter Camp forward pass Tommy threw to DaVaris?” But let’s focus in on what’s important: what, sir, must ND do to “get real”? I think we start and stop the conversation by kicking the women out. It all went downhill after that.

  • dorney

    Bob was a good person, coach & recruiter, but never like his style of defense. Alabama exposed the defense last year for what it was, good, no great. Forget the stats. I won’t miss him.

    • http://twitter.com/IrishElvis Irish Elvis (@IrishElvis)

      It’s possible to express a preference for a particular coaching style, but using stats to inform one’s view is generally preferred.

      The 2012 red zone defense allowed the fewest yards per play in the nation and 19(?) consecutive quarters without a rushing TD. Labeling that body of work as “good, not great” would be intellectually dishonest.

    • http://twitter.com/IDtheMIKE Matt Holly Jolly Q. (@IDtheMIKE)

      You have a mind more suited to studying the primary colors chart than analyzing football, sir.