According to CBS’s Bruce Feldman, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is about to be named head coach at UConn after agreeing to a 5 year deal worth $1.5 million/year. The news has yet to be confirmed by either UConn or Notre Dame at this time.
After experiencing no turnover in the staff last year, it looks like Brian Kelly will now be tasked with replacing both of his coordinators with Diaco headed to UConn and Chuck Martin being named the head coach at Miami (Ohio) University last week.
If this news had broke two weeks ago, Kelly would have had an obvious internal replacement available to him in Martin but with Martin now in charge of his own program, Kelly could have to go outside the program for at least one of the open coordinator positions on his staff for 2014 without any internal candidates with coordinator experience on the defensive side of the ball.
Diaco has done a marvelous job in turning around a Notre Dame defense that was a laughing stock just a few years ago into one of the most dominant units to ever play for the Fighting Irish last year. Performance fell off slightly for the defense this year, but even with a rash of injuries at critical positions, Diaco was able to put a patchwork defense together that kept Notre Dame in every game despite being put in some tough positions from time to time.
The most immediate concern for Kelly outside of hiring two new coaches is going to be recruiting this weekend. Notre Dame is set to host two key defensive recruits – Nile Sykes and Kolin Hill. Both were thought to be possible commitments for the Irish but today’s news could throw a wrench in those plans.
Then there are all of the current commitments whom Diaco played a large role in recruiting. Kelly and the rest of the defensive staff will have to put in some extra time keeping all of them on board as well while Notre Dame looks for a replacement. In interim expect the negative recruiting from Irish foes to pick up big time with other programs looking to poach away while Notre Dame looks for a replacement.
The other immediate concern for Kelly is junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt. The biggest recruit on the board this year for the Irish is their elite defensive end whom many project to be a potential first round pick if he leaves early for the NFL. At this point it is unclear how Diaco’s departure will impact his decision.
We’ll have more on this situation as it unfolds.