The school announced the coach's firing in a news release on Monday, a month after the Huskies' 3-9 campaign concluded. Diaco went 11-26 in his time at UConn.
“This is obviously not the way I had hoped things would turn out, but I appreciate having had the opportunity to be here at UConn," Diaco said in a statement. “I thank the administration, staff and fans of the UConn football program for their passion and support over these three years. Most importantly, I want to say how much I love the players on this team and will be rooting for their success. I know that there are great things to come for all of them.”
UConn athletics director David Benedict addressed the peciluar timing of the dismissal and noted a coaching search is imminent.
“I believe a new leader for our program and student-athletes is needed to build long-term success,” Benedict said in a statement. “I am grateful to Coach Diaco and his staff for their hard work and the integrity with which they ran the program and certainly wish them future success.”
“I know this may come as a surprise to our fans and supporters given the timing of this decision. However, it became apparent to me that a change in program direction is necessary at this time.”
Bob Diaco out as UConn head coach on Jan. 2 so Huskies can save $1.6 million
|David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports|
In a statement released by the school Monday, UConn AD David Benedict hit on the timing of the situation.
“I know this may come as a surprise to our fans and supporters given the timing of this decision,” continued Benedict. “However, it became apparent to me that a change in program direction is necessary at this time.”
But what he didn’t say is one of the reasons UConn is waiting to make the move until after the new year. The Huskies aren’t firing Diaco immediately, instead he won’t be officially out the door until Jan. 2, 2017. This is a contractual dealing more than anything else. In May, Diaco signed a two-year extension to remain in Connecticut. According to the Hartford Courant, the buyout language is structured like this:
The contract expires Jan. 14, 2021. Should UConn chose to terminate the agreement for any reason other than "just cause," the university would pay Diaco a buyout — $5 million if that termination took place in 2016, $3.4 million in 2017, $1.7 million in 2018, and $1 million in either 2019 or 2020.
So in order to save some cash, the Huskies are waiting to officially make the move.
Diaco and the Huskies have struggled. After a 2-10 debut season in 2014, they went 6-7 in Diaco’s second season with a postseason loss in the St. Pete Bowl. This year they slid backward, and according to S&P+ rankings adjusted for opponent, UConn ranks 117th.
At least we’ll always have the Civil ConFLiCT as the lasting legacy of the Diaco era.
Bob Diaco's Tenure At UConn Deserves A Meaningless Trophy
Bob Diaco, UConn head football coach and a man of many ideas, has been fired, the school announced today. It’s unclear why UConn waited a month after the team closed its 3-9 season, because the timing reduces Diaco’s job prospects and the Huskies’ candidates for a new coach, but regardless, the era of innovative thinking at Storrs is over.
Diaco’s most notorious moment at UConn was the Civil ConFLiCT, a painfully forced rivalry with Central Florida which intended to bring some spice to the relatively new American Athletic Conference. Diaco and UConn were the butt of many jokes for inadvertently becoming an example of one of the corniest aspects of college football: the habit of trying to market every game like it had national appeal, when it’s actually, at most, just another line for desperate gamblers.
After UCF won the fourth game in the Civil ConFLiCT this past October, the Knights left the trophy on the bench. In a press conference a few days later, a visibly frustrated Diaco pretty much said the rivalry was dead. He also talked about another idea he had to expand the AAC’s audience:
It seemed like a fun thing for kids and young people and young men—it just seemed like a fun, intercollegiate piece to a game. But, apparently not. So, I’m good on it. It’s gone.
I got other ideas, too. Send me my agenda, they want to talk about networks, I got all kinds of ideas on networks. Right? Let’s target 6-year-olds to 16-year-olds. How about that? Eventually, they’re going to be 18 to 35. Let’s broadcast our games on Nickelodeon. Who owns that? Viacom? Let’s create some real intrigue. Let’s create some real followship. That’s all I was trying to do.
Diaco’s ideas weren’t great; his coaching and recruiting abilities sucked, too. That last part might have been what did him in. UConn currently has the worst class in its conference, and nationally, the Huskies rank below UMass. The Minutemen didn’t need to pick a performative fight with a school in Florida in order to achieve similar results.
Bob Diaco might have compiled a 11-26 record over three seasons at UConn, but his mark on college football went beyond wins and losses. If AAC games ever do appear on Nickelodeon, we know who to thank.