Notre Dame heads into the bowl season without each of its coordinators.
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is the latest to depart, accepting the head coaching job at UConn Wednesday night, the Huskies officially announced early Thursday morning.
Diaco was formally introduced at a press conference at UConn on Thursday.
“I feel honored and privileged to become the new head football coach at the University of Connecticut. I look forward to getting integrated into every aspect of the university and get to know the administration, faculty and the student body. I want to get to know all the members of our successful Division of Athletics,” Diaco said. “I will become fully-engaged in every aspect of our football program immediately with meeting our current football student-athletes and recruiting a high priority. I have watched from afar the incredible progress that UConn has made as an FBS program in the last decade and it is my intention to enhance that level of excellence.”
The move comes a week after Miami of Ohio hired Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin as its head coach.
Diaco takes over a team that went 3-9 this season, and fired Paul Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start and an 10-18 record in just over two years at the school.
"Connecticut hired the perfect man to lead their football program into the future," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "Bob Diaco possesses every characteristic necessary to be successful. He’s a top-notch recruiter, tremendous leader of young men and brilliant coach. Bob was arguably the top coordinator in the country as demonstrated by our defense over the last few years. He played an immense role that ultimately helped our program reach four consecutive bowl games, including the 2013 BCS National Championship game."
Diaco was a linebacker at Iowa and shared a strong connection with his players. He brings energy and passion with him to the football field every day, demanding and receiving a lot out of his players.
The 40-year-old won the 2012 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach, the first Irish assistant to ever capture the award. His fundamental in growing a tough nosed defensive culture that was a cornerstone of Notre Dame's run to the national championship game last season.
Many Notre Dame players took to twitter to react to the knows. There was varying of emotions.
"Lol this program!!! Everything kept a secret!!! I guess this is called come here make something of yourself and leave," defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt tweeted, before deleting it within five minutes.
Tuitt has yet to announce whether he will return for his senior season at Notre Dame. A player who has announced he's leaving for the NFL is nose guard Louis Nix who took a much different approach.
"Are We Not ND!? #Chill #BKGotThis #CongratsBob," the always playful Nix tweeted.
He followed that with, "I was gonna wait till tomorrow but....I'm the new DC. #YouAreWelcome #Goirish."
Many current Irish players like linebacker Jaylon Smith simply tweeted "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
Others sent out their congrats.
"Happy for Coach Diaco!" captain and cornerback Bennett Jackson said. He's going to do great at UConn.. Love that man! Always has my respect! #Dboyz."
Even former offensive players extended their love.
"Big congrats to Coach Diaco!" said former Irish center and current New England Patriot Braxston Cave. "I have so much respect for that man and the way he always kept it real with you."
Earlier in the day Wednesday, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, the 2013 Broyles winner, said he had withdrawn from consideration.
Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel began face-to-face interviews for the job Sunday, a day after UConn completed its season by routing Memphis 45-10, the Huskies' third consecutive win.
Interim coach T.J. Weist, who led the team to a 3-5 record after taking over for Pasqualoni, had made it clear he hoped to remain in the position.
But Manuel said the job had attracted an impressive pool of candidates. In addition to Diaco and Narduzzi, Ball State head coach Pete Lembo and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster also were linked to the position.
Manuel said he received input from important boosters and 25 former UConn players in narrowing down the finalists. He also said Saturday that money would not be an impediment to hiring a new coach.
Diaco receives a 5-year deal worth about $1.5 million per year.