By Ray Dunaway

FARMINGTON, Conn. (CBS Connecticut)_ When Bob Diaco took over as UConn’s 30th football coach, he inherited a team in trouble.  The team’s 3-9 record for the 2013 season began with the firing of previous Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni only four games into the season, establishing a situation from which the team could not fully recover.

But the enthusiastic Diaco, six months in to his new program, is more than ready to face this challenge head-on, with a focus on his players and eliminating what he calls the “Losing Culture” of UConn’s team.  With his staff in place and the team getting ready for the first kickoff against BYU on August 29th, Diaco is going back to the basics, focusing everything on his players.

“I address the players’ needs, first and foremost, giving the players everything they need,” Diaco told Ray Dunaway on WTIC Newstalk 1080.  “These players are very excited about being better than they would othwerwise be.  They’re sick of losing, they want to win, they want to go to bowls.”

While the new coach is ready to begin crafting a winning team, he does admit the journey will not be easy for him, his staff or his players.  “When you take over anything, you get the feeling like you’re talking disparaging about the past,” said Diaco.  “The fact of the matter is, I love those players, I’m excited to work with them, and I know those coaches.  Those coaches work hard, and I enjoyed them, too– I’ve got a lot of friends that were on that staff and feel great about them.”

“But the team that we found, it has a losing culture, in terms of how they eat, sleep, train,” he continued.  “Physically, you couldn’t see a lot of difference between a Freshman and a Senior.  How is that possible?  That shouldn’t happen– You’re training for four or five years, eating for four or five years, and going to meetings at a university with a major college football team, and you look the same as you looked when you were 17?  That’s unacceptable.  We’re working to change that.  We need to create a winning mentality, a winning culture.”

The coaching staff is not the only big change with this year’s Football program, as Diaco is also excited about the new rules put forth by the NCAA regarding summer training.  “They de-regulated the summer a little bit,” he said of the new NCAA rules.  “They already had a great model that was working in the winter conditioning model… now the summer conditioning model is the same… which is a great change.”

With that new edge in training and the positive energy the new coach is bringing with him to the program, Diaco hopes for a successful season for his team.  “You’ve gotta live each day a particular way… prepare yourself so you can go to this competitive moment prepared,” he said.  “That will create your persistence toward your goal… it’s a lifestyle.”


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