UConn made the wrong decision by firing Bob Diaco. The school should have stuck with him for at least another season before making any moves.
That’s not to say that the 2016 campaign wasn’t a huge disappointment. It certainly was. After all, the Huskies returned 15 starters from last season’s squad, which was the first team to qualify for a bowl game since Randy Edsall departed. With that type of experience coming back, it looked like UConn would have a winning record this year, and be the surprise team in the AAC this fall.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The Huskies lost close games to Navy and Syracuse early in the season and never really recovered from it. The offense struggled all year long, ranking 122nd nationally in total offense, 122nd in yards per play, and dead last in scoring offense.
Despite these horrible numbers, getting rid of Diaco wasn’t the right move.
Let’s be honest: everyone knew when Paul Pasqualoni was fired that it would take time to rebuild the program back to what it was during the final years of the Edsall era. Remember, in just three seasons, UConn went from a perennial bowl team to a squad that lost games to both Towson and Buffalo.
In other words: he inherited a program that was light years away from competing for an AAC title.
Yet, Diaco got things done much sooner than many of us expected. In year two, he took the Huskies to a bowl game, and handed Houston its only loss of the season.
At this point, many will argue that none of that matters since Diaco went 3-9 in 2016. But, it’s worth noting that Edsall suffered through two straight losing seasons after leading the Huskies to their first bowl game. Instead of making a move, the school stuck with Edsall. He responded by guiding UConn to four straight bowl bids, including a trip to the Fiesta Bowl in 2010.
We’ll never know if Diaco would have done the same, since he never got the opportunity. However, he clearly had the support of his players, and was planning to bring in a top-notch coordinator to fix the team’s problems on offense. Considering that most of his top players would be seniors next season, there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t have taken the Huskies back to a bowl in 2017. If – and it’s a big if — he didn’t, the school could have given him the boot at the end of the season, knowing that it gave him a full recruiting cycle to turn things around.
I’m curious to see what UConn does next. Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is the top choice on a lot of people’s lists, but Pat Forde reports that Moorhead is not a candidate for the job.