2016 Purdue Football Coaching Search Favorites: Bob Diaco
Candidate Tier #3
Category: Likely Candidates
***(DISCLAIMER: This classification is purely because he's a perfect fit as a “typical Burke-era Purdue hire”)***
Who Is He?
Boilerdowd: Former Iowa LB, CMU, Cincy and UND DC, current UConn HC.
Michael: Bob “Fish Cake” Diaco, head coach at UCONN, and sayer of things that make sense in his head, but not so much when he says them out loud.
Why would he be successful at Purdue?
Boilerdowd: He built one of the best college football defenses that I can remember at UND. And along with Manti Te'o's imaginary girlfriend, helped inspire UND to a national championship game. He's another great defensive mind on our list...and at 43 he's young, but looks like he might have just had his first legal beer.
Michael: He’s young (43) and a bit of a rising star. He’s coach at all sorts of programs, and has been successful at each stop. His resume includes stops at directional midwest schools, LB/ST coach at Virginia, DC/ILB coach at Cincinnati, DC/LB coach at Notre Dame, and now head coach at Connecticut, where he’s been since 2014.
He definitely knows defense, and rose to fame at Notre Dame as one of the nation’s top DCs, winning the Broyles Award in 2012 (he was also a finalist in 2011.) He’s definitely a hot name in coaching - or was, when he was hired by Connecticut - and really made his name as a defensive coach. He finished his first season at UCONN at 2-10, but turned that around the next year to win six games and was awarded with a bowl berth.
Why could he flop at Purdue?
Boilerdowd: He might still have a solid season at Connecticut, but this season's 3-4 start doesn't bode well. They're in the middle of a rebuild similar to what Purdue faces in the coming seasons. There are a ton of question marks with Diaco as the jury seems to still be out.
Michael: It’s hard to judge his time at UCONN in many ways. He’s still fairly new, and UCONN had a disaster of a time with Randy Edsall’s successor. In short time, Diaco brought some respectability back to the UCONN program, with wins over schools like Houston. Still, UCONN isn’t exactly a world beater yet.
He finished his first year 2-10, then 6-7, and this year they’re off to a 3-4 start. Their Division I program is only 17 years old, but Edsall showed that winning at UCONN is possible. It’s hard to get excited about a coach who has yet to coach an above-.500 team.
The other thing to consider with Diaco is more philosophical: does Purdue want to be known for offense or defense? Offensive is easier for a program like Purdue to build around; it’s easier to recruit the players, the schemes can be more creative. But Diaco knows defense. Hiring him would be committing to be a defense-first program.
Would he come to Purdue?
Boilerdowd: I think so, but he'll have a relatively large buyout as he is fresh off of a two year contract extension during the offseason...I'm not sure 'the juice is worth the squeeze' here since very little is known about him as an HC.
Michael: It would bring him back to his midwest roots, and his time in the northeast hasn’t gone as smoothly as one might think. His annual salary is a bit low - $1.75M - and Purdue would add at least $1M to that. I don’t think he should be considered; he’s a proven DC but hasn’t shown much as a HC (I refer to this as “Wade Phillips Syndrome”), but if Purdue came calling, I’m sure he’d answer.