Bob Diaco’s Stock Continues to Soar

Bob Diaco - Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator
Bob Diaco seen on the field prior to kick-off of the BCS National Championship before making his customary trip to the pressbox for the game. (Photo: Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports)

He was leader the of a defense that was ranked at or close to the top of most important defensive categories in 2012, and he never saw the field.

Notre Dame’s Defensive Before/After Bob Diaco
Category Under Diaco Before Diaco
Points Allowed/Game 17.3 25.5
First Downs Allowed/Game 18.1 19.5
Rushing First Downs Allowed/Game 6.8 8.9
Yards Allowed/Rush 3.7 4.4
Rushing Yards Allowed/Game 125.3 165.7
Rushing TDs Allowed/Game 0.7 1.5
Passing Yards Alloed/Game 1.1 1.4
Total Yards Allowed/Play 4.9 5.3
Total Yards Allowed/Game 330.7 360.7
Sacks/Game 2.3 1.8

Assistant coach Bob Diaco was the mastermind behind the scenes of the one the best defensive units in Notre Dames modern era. A unit that was tested consistently and found ways to excel and prevail more often than not. This same unit finished the season ranked 7th overall in total defense, 2nd in scoring defense(10.3) and 5th in rushing defense(92.4)and even with the loss of leaders such as Manti Te’o(Chargers) and Kapron Lewis Moore(Ravens)his 2013 squad looks to have as much, if not more fire power as the previous year.

It is no secret that Diaco is Brian Kelly’s right hand man, and has been for years. Diaco is widely considered one of the top assistants in the country, and was recognized as so as he was voted the top assistant and recipient of the Broyles Award in 2012.  Diaco is the first Irish assistant to ever win the Broyles Award, which is amazing considering the plethora of talent the Notre Dame program has had walking the sideline and up in the booth.

Notre Dame’s 2012 Regular Season Defensive Stats
Category Stat NCAA Rank
Scoring Defense 10.33 1st
Red-one TDs Allowed Pct. 24.24 1st
Points Allowed Per Red-Zone Trip 2.9 1st
Rushing TDs Allowed 2 1st
Total Red-Zone TDs Allowed 8 1st
Red-Zone Rushing TDs Allowed 2 1st
Passing Yards/Completion 9.7 1st
Red-Zone Points Allowed 95 t-1st
Red-Zone Defense 63.6% t-3rd
Rush Defense 92.42 4th
Total Defense 286.83 6th
First Downs Allowed/Game 16.08 6th
Pass Efficiency Defense 105.58 12th
Fourth Down Conversion Pct. 31.3 t-12th
Sacks 34.0 t-14th
Interceptions 16 t-17th
Pass Defense 194.42 21st

Twice an all-Big Ten Selection at the University of Iowa, Diaco was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award(Top LB)in 1995, and finished his career as the seventh-leading tackler in Iowa history. Former coach and boss Hayden Fry had this to say  about his former player and graduate assistant –

Bobby was always extremely tough, very intelligent,” Fry said. “He’s intelligent enough to analyze the situation and come up with a solution. The players (at Iowa) responded to him. He was one of my best leaders.

Those sentiments still ring true today as not only does Diaco still carry those emotional attributes in his arsenal, he has added trustworthy and charismatic. Multiple recruits have stated that it was their relationship with him that ended up being the edge the Irish needed in their choosing the Notre Dame program over other elite programs.

The thought of Bob Diaco actually leaving isn’t out of left field, as most Irish fans know how close they came to losing him last year. He was a finalist for the Boston College job, which eventually went to Steve Addazio, but just the thought of him leaving had Irish Nation on the edge of their seat. This isn’t uncommon ground, as the more success your program has, the more sought after that people involved in that program are. At least last year there was truly only one job that Diaco actually was connected to, and a bunch of rumors that coincided with said job. This year it would not be surprising to see him have multiple opportunities and every most Notre Dame fan’s fear a short list of offers once all is said and done.

Previous Broyles Award Winners
Coach Year School
Mickey Andrews 1996 Florida State
Jim Herrman 1997 Michigan
David Cutcliffe 1998 Tennessee
Ralph Friedgen 1999 Georgia Tech
Mark Mangino 2000 Oklahoma
Randy Sherman 2001 Miami
Norm Chow 2002 USC
Brian VanGorder 2003 Georgia
Gene Chizik 2004 Auburn
Greg Davis 2005 Texas
Bud Foster 2006 Virginia Tech
Jim Heacock 2007 Ohio State
Kevin Wilson 2008 Oklahoma
Kirby Smart 2009 Alabama
Gus Malzahn 2010 Auburn
John Chavis 2011 LSU
Bob Diaco 2012 Notre Dame

In no way do we have any insight as to whether the young man from Iowa has his mind on forging his own path as the leader of another program, or if he feels comfortable as part of Kelly’s regime at Notre Dame, and if financially compensated, would be happy calling South Bend his home for the foreseeable future. What we do know is this, coach Diaco is every short list across the nation of possible replacements for programs  in dire need of an overhaul.

Our suggestion is to enjoy him, his defense, his players, and his presence because if the Irish amass the type of defensive numbers they did in 2012,in our humble opinion we see very few scenarios in which he would return in 2014. His players love him, Brian Kelly needs him, and the fans adore him, but some people are destined for leadership roles, and Bob Diaco happens to be one of them.

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  1. Believe it or not, sometimes it isn’t just about the money.

    Sometimes it might also be what’s best for a coach’s family as well, or a certain comfort level that a certain place might provide.
    Sometimes coaches stay to fullfill a commitment or a mission.
    To see a project through, win a championship, or build up more experience.

    Sometimes it’s the little things associated with the job, and not just the money, that makes all the difference between keeping or losing someone.

    Rumor had it that the Great Babe Ruth was kept happy by a signing bonus that included all the hotdogs and beer he wanted during team home games.

    Mmmmmmm.. Hotdogs and beer…. what a lucky guy!

  2. Time for ND to pay forward!

    Even if Diaco goes soon, as he will be in great demand,
    he’s earned the right to be compensated for what he has become-
    the top assistant in college football.

      1. You’re right- we don’t know.

        We do know it’s rumored that BK’s contract talks were to include raises for his assistants. I’m willing to bet Diaco is not the highest paid assistant coach in the land, despite being named the best one last year- as is suggested by him being named the Broyles Award winner.

        Continuity in a coaching staff that shows they can excel is vital in maintaining a winning program. And this staff, headed by Alford, Diaco have also shown their ability to recruit nationwide- a key component in staying among the elite.

      2. Irrelevant Ron,

        Are you saying Diaco does not deserve top pay asmuch as the top assistant coach in the country received in 2011?

        What does how much or how little have to do with it? If you’re at the top of the list that commands top pay. Something you obviously have not experienced.

        Did you even consider in your one line sentence of thought that we want to keep him happy, so we could hire him back some day as the head football coach of ND?

        Excellent points…Michael the Archangel! Diaco and crew should be the top paid assistants in the country!


      3. Nope, merely just stating that we don’t know what he is being paid. Could be 10 million a year or 10 dollars. To say ND needs to pay him implies they are not paying him.

        NBC – Hicks – Mayock – Flanagan!

    1. Alabama just upped the salary of their def. coor., to a million a year. million Some people are not meant to be head coaches. If Diaco wants a head job, great, but if not, give the man his money and keep him a ND. As long as Kelly stays at ND, to me Diaco is not replaceable.

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