Bob Diaco, UConn head football coach and a man of many ideas, has been fired, the school announced today. It’s unclear why UConn waited a month after the team closed its 3-9 season, because the timing reduces Diaco’s job prospects and the Huskies’ candidates for a new coach, but regardless, the era of innovative thinking at Storrs is over.
Diaco’s most notorious moment at UConn was the Civil ConFLiCT, a painfully forced rivalry with Central Florida which intended to bring some spice to the relatively new American Athletic Conference. Diaco and UConn were the butt of many jokes for inadvertently becoming an example of one of the corniest aspects of college football: the habit of trying to market every game like it had national appeal, when it’s actually, at most, just another line for desperate gamblers.
After UCF won the fourth game in the Civil ConFLiCT this past October, the Knights left the trophy on the bench. In a press conference a few days later, a visibly frustrated Diaco pretty much said the rivalry was dead. He also talked about another idea he had to expand the AAC’s audience:
It seemed like a fun thing for kids and young people and young men—it just seemed like a fun, intercollegiate piece to a game. But, apparently not. So, I’m good on it. It’s gone.
I got other ideas, too. Send me my agenda, they want to talk about networks, I got all kinds of ideas on networks. Right? Let’s target 6-year-olds to 16-year-olds. How about that? Eventually, they’re going to be 18 to 35. Let’s broadcast our games on Nickelodeon. Who owns that? Viacom? Let’s create some real intrigue. Let’s create some real followship. That’s all I was trying to do.
Diaco’s ideas weren’t great; his coaching and recruiting abilities sucked, too. That last part might have been what did him in. UConn currently has the worst class in its conference, and nationally, the Huskies rank below UMass. The Minutemen didn’t need to pick a performative fight with a school in Florida in order to achieve similar results.
Bob Diaco might have compiled a 11-26 record over three seasons at UConn, but his mark on college football went beyond wins and losses. If AAC games ever do appear on Nickelodeon, we know who to thank.