The moment Bob Diaco lost me.
TORRINGTON: There was a moment when soon to be former UConn head football coach Bob Diaco lost me and maybe a whole bunch more folks.
It was at the end of his first year when his team lost their final game of the 2014 season to previously winless SMU by a 27-20 final after being up 20-6 at the half.
The Huskies turned the ball over at will in the second half and were shut out as the Mustangs took full advantage and left East Hartford with an early Christmas gift.
After the game, with his first year in the books at 2-10, the first-year head coach left more than a few scratching their heads with his reaction to what had happened during the previous four months of awful football.
“The tide is coming back in,” Diaco said. “I know it doesn’t feel like it but it is.”
At that point, one could not even see a ripple in a pond, forget about any talk of a tide.
What was reasonable for any head coach who came to a major university with an impressive resume (albeit on the defensive side of the ball) with high expectations and a pretty good paycheck was some good old fashioned reality.
Something like, ‘we stunk and that’s not what I came here for and things have to change and it starts with me.’
It was the start of many post-game interviews that left you wondering if the head coach lived in the same reality as the rest of us.
Diaco was always, almost to a fault, optimistic to the millionth degree and it seemed that any shortcomings the team had were a direct reflection on his performance with is right and wrong at the same time.
During those early days, a habit of throwing past coaching staffs under the bus seemed to be the norm with comments about the team not being in shape or up to the standard that he wanted to set.
Now, setting the bar high is a must for any head coach who wants to do the main thing that gets people in the stands and excited about the program (wins) so you can’t have a beef with that.
UConn teams have always been built with defense in mind first, it’s how you win in the cold Northeast in the fall and winter and in his second year the “D” was very good, giving up just 19.5 points per game.
Unfortunately, the offense scored an anemic 17.2 points per game but it was still good enough to get UConn to a Bowl game, one they lost to Marshall by a 16-10 final in the St Petersburg Bowl.
This year, the defense also took a big step back, giving up 28.1 points per game but some of that could be contributed to an offense that just couldn’t stay on the field for longer than three plays most of the year.
2016 had so much promise right out of the gate and if the coaching staff had managed things a little better late in game against Navy (a 28-24 loss) and Syracuse (a 31-24 loss) UConn could have started 4-0 and been in a much different place at the end of the year than they are now.
Their last win this year came on October 8 when they beat Cincinnati 20-9 before starting a six- game, season and UConn career ending losing streak for the head coach.
2016 saw many strange things, including the change if offensive coordinators from a guy (Frank Verducci) who had called thousands of plays over his career to a guy (David Corley) who had called a series once before.
Diaco heaped a ridiculous amount of praise on Corley, ordaining him as potentially one of the greatest offensive coordinators of all time before he had demonstrated any ability to do so.
Changing quarterbacks after the season was lost and burning a red-shirt with the promotion of freshman Donavon Williams seemed like a desperate move when a senior (Garret Anderson) was available after Bryant Sherriffs had to sit due to injury.
What will now happen with Sherriffs, who spent most of this season running for his life and does not have to come back next year?
Without an effective offensive line, I don’t care if you put Joe Montana behind center, nothing good will come of it.
I understand that football drives the train. Football needs to fill The Rent but until there is something that will get a thoroughly disgusted fan base pumped up, that day may never come.
Connecticut is begging for a quality football team. They will show up. Recall back to the Michigan game when 2000 extra seats had to be added to the park in East Hartford.
Let’s hope that the choice UConn athletic director David Benedict picks soon will be someone who can do just that.