THE MEN BEHIND THE COMMITTMENT
Warde Manuel’s selection of Notre Dame defensive coordinator and associate head coach Bob Diaco as UCONN’s 30th head football coach was widely hailed yesterday as just the move he needed to make to demonstrate UCONN’s committment to football.
With the footprint of the future of college football laid out last summer by the commissioners of the five conferences that will be the power behind that future, committment is the ingredient that will earn UCONN an invitation to be part of the future in one of those leagues. As Diaco stated yesterday, while dutifully pledging his allegiance to the American Athletic Conference as “A fun and exciting league to coach in”, the infrastructure for football success is already in place in Storrs. “This is not a rebuilding job”, he said in declaring it was UCONN he wanted all along, not just a move up in the coaching ranks, “This school has great resources. You look at the Burton football facility, you look at the Shenkman football facility”, references to the state of the art on campus football compound, “It’s clear that from a facility standpoint and a resources standpoint, you’re not going to go anywhere in the country and find anything nicer.”
In addressing Diaco’s upcoming search to put a staff in place, Manuel affirmed UCONN’s commitment to football, “We are investing in our staff, we are investing more resources in our systems pool for this gentleman and the coaches and the student athletes to be successful.”
In finding a head coach who mirrored that commitment Manuel faced his most important assignment. As last year’s Frank Broyles award winner, and a coordinator at Notre Dame, Diaco was the highest profile assistant coach available, the numbers, five years, six million dollars, speak to commitment.
“The perfect man to lead their football program into the future”, said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
“Connecticut has found the perfect man to build programs that will deliver sustained success”, said Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
Then there were was the parade of people who spoke up on Diaco’s behalf yesterday afternoon in Storrs. The philosopher, who talked about energy buckets, and surrounding himself with those who fill them, distancing himself from those who empty them. The scholar, who, in Latin, quoted St. Augustine, “With love and diligence anything’s possible.” The country music fan who quoted Garth Brooks, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”. The air conditioner salesman Eskimos break out their checkbooks for, who says he’s got more than football to sell when he’s recruiting for UCONN, he’s got a high level research and technology institute to sell, offering a quality education. The aspiring chef, who thought about studying at Cordon Bleu in France, and the football coach who draped himself in coach-speak, “The offense needs to dominate the line of scrimmage, overwhelm opponents at the point of attack.”
The philosopher, the scholar, the country music fan, the salesman, the chef, the football coach. They’re all the right man, bringing sizzle to UCONN football that hasn’t been seen since Randy Edsall left for Maryland, and he said all the right things, about the program, about the university, about the American Athletic Conference. He’s the hope for the future of UCONN football and through the eyes of everyone he is, the philosopher, the scholar, the country music fan, the salesman the chef and the football coach, he thinks that future looks pretty good. That’s committment. That’s the final ingredient UCONN needed. Warde Manuel got his men, er, man.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.