College football coaches come in all shapes and forms. Some coaches at the collegiate level thrive as recruiters or coordinators, but not everyone experiences success as a head coach. Bob Diaco has fallen off the map since his first head coaching stint ended at the University of Connecticut in 2016.
Diaco hasn’t seemed to be able to find a long-term home in a few years. He was just fired from Purdue where he served as the team’s defensive coordinator for one season. After he was terminated from the Boilermakers program, I couldn’t help but investigate what’s wrong with Bob Diaco?
Bob Diaco – Before UConn
Bob Diaco was one of the best assistants in the country before he was offered the head coaching job at UConn. Diaco began his career at Iowa as a graduate assistant and then worked his way up from mid major assistant coaching stints to the defensive coordinator position at Notre Dame.
Diaco followed Brian Kelly from Cincinnati to Notre Dame in 2010. Diaco served as the Cincinnati DC under Kelly for one season in 2009 before they both made the move to South Bend.
The biggest star that played under Diaco at Notre Dame on the defensive side of the ball was linebacker Manti Te’o. During the All-American’s final collegiate season in 2012, Diaco coached one of the best defenses in country.
The Irish were only giving up 12.8 points per game and made it all the way to the BCS National Championship. Diaco won the Broyles Award in 2012 which is presented to the best assistant coach in the country.
Bob Diaco Takes Over at UConn
I’m from Connecticut so I had a first-hand account of the Bob Diaco debacle in the state. There was a lot of hype surrounding Diaco’s arrival and he didn’t disappoint. He lived up to the excitement, but it was for all the wrong reasons.
Diaco wasn’t successful when it came to winning, but he was also crazy. It’s okay to be crazy if you win, but if you’re losing nearly every Saturday in the fall you better hope that you’re liked by your boss.
Diaco’s cumulative record in three seasons leading the Huskies was 11-26. In 2014, the team went 2-10, but this was considered okay because he was implementing his culture into the locker room. In 2015, the team went 6-6 in the regular season which gave the Huskies a ticket to the St. Petersburg Bowl. UConn lost 16-10 to the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Expectations were high in 2016 after Diaco led UConn to their first bowl game since Randy Edsall’s departure to Maryland. However, things didn’t go UConn’s way in Diaco’s final season at the helm in Connecticut. The team went 3-9 and the vultures were circling all season long in an attempt to oust Diaco from his head coaching role.
The UConn football program under Diaco was tough to watch. Although, Diaco didn’t just leave his mark on UConn with his losing records. Diaco has been the centerpiece of numerous YouTube compilations of craziness from his media interviews.
Take a look for yourself…
Bobby D also left his mark on the program by inventing a ‘rivalry’ game for the Huskies in his first season as the head coach. This is a quote from Diaco following the team’s win over conference opponent Central Florida in 2014.
“We’re excited about this game. I mean it. I’m excited to continue this game. With all admiration and respect. All admiration and respect for Central Florida and Coach O’Leary. They’re spectacular. But we’re excited about this North/South battle. You want to call it the Civil Conflict? Maybe with my money and I’ll make a trophy. I’ll buy it myself. Put a big giant Husky and a big giant Knight on it. Make a stand. Put it in our hallway. The Civil Conflict.”
The next year Diaco whipped out a trophy for his own manufactured rivalry game with UCF. Keep in mind that UCF never acknowledged this rivalry game!
When the Knights defeated UConn in 2016 in the “Civil Conflict,” UCF didn’t even take the trophy back to Orlando. They just left it on the bench inside Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.
It takes two teams to form a rivalry. UConn’s first meeting with UCF was in 2013. That’s not a rivalry. If you do feel the need to make up a rivalry game, you’re only going to get away with it if you’re winning bowl games.
Bob Diaco was fired from UConn as the school’s worst head coach record-wise since 1920, but he had a solid defensive resume so he was landed in a coordinator role at Nebraska in 2017.
Back to Being an Assistant
Diaco rose through the college football coaching ranks at a very quick rate. He was a head coach before he turned 45 years old and had a lot of success as an assistant. Nonetheless, his fall since his head coaching stint at UConn has been pretty rough. After Purdue cut ties, the future doesn’t look very promising for Bob Diaco.
Bob Diaco was fired from Nebraska in 2017 after the entire staff was blown out. The Huskers went 4-8 in 2017 which the final straw that broke the camel’s back for Head Coach Mike Riley and his staff.
Diaco then went to Oklahoma for a season as the outside linebacker’s coach. He left on his own to accept the defensive coordinator job at Louisiana Tech. Diaco was effective with the Bulldogs. The team defeated the University of Miami in 2019 in the Independence Bowl. Diaco’s defense shut out The U and the team beat the Hurricanes 14-0 in their bowl victory.
On January 2, 2020, Bob Diaco was named the defensive coordinator at Purdue. Bobby D had rose from the ashes and made it back to Power 5 football as a defensive coordinator. The team finished 2-4, but the defense was a big reason for these losses. The unit gave up just under 30 points per game and was 60th in the country for total defense.
Expectations were high in Boilermaker Country in 2020. The talent on the defensive side of the ball was one of the best groups in years, but they didn’t deliver. Nobody knows why Diaco was fired this year. Although, I believe that it wasn’t just because his defense sucked in the Big Ten Conference. His track record definitely supports this assumption.
I’m excited to see where Bob Diaco lands next. The evidence will continue to unravel in order for college fans to determine what’s really wrong with Bobby D!
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