More than three months after firing Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut has found his permanent replacement. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will become the Huskies new head coach, the school announced on Thursday. The Football Scoop first reported the news. Bruce Feldman of CBS provided confirmation and indicated that Diaco's deal would be for five years.
Diaco, 40, had emerged as one of the nation’s premier assistants. He was presented with the Broyles Award after leading a Fighting Irish defense that ranked second nationally in scoring (12.8 points per game) during the team’s run to the BCS title game in the 2012 season. Notre Dame currently ranks 32nd in scoring defense (22.9 points per game) in ’13.
It was rumored that Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was the frontrunner for the job, but Narduzzi reportedly declined UConn’s offer on Wednesday.
Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, Diaco served stints at Cincinnati, Virginia, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois and Iowa. He played as a linebacker for the Hawkeyes from 1992-95.
Last year, Diaco was considered for Boston College’s head-coaching vacancy. That position ultimately went to Steve Addazio.
For UConn -- which started 0-4 under Pasqualoni and went on to finish 3-9 under interim coach T.J. Weist -- the move bolsters the team’s strength. Though the Huskies’ attack flailed in 2013, ranking 112th in the FBS in total offense, the defense showed some bright spots. UConn is set to lose its best player, however: Junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood, who finished with 118 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss, declared for the 2014 NFL draft on Saturday.
For Notre Dame, the move means head coach Brian Kelly will have secure his recruiting class and add to his staff overhaul. Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin accepted the Miami (Ohio) job on Dec. 3.
Several Notre Dame players took to Twitter after the news was announced: