The college football coaching carousel had gotten quiet this winter, but took a bizarre turn on Monday morning with the decision by UConn to fire head coach Bob Diaco. Diaco was just 11-26 overall in three years at the school, which doesn’t make the move surprising. But waiting until three weeks after most openings were filled was a bit bizarre (although considering his buyout goes down after the new year, the move does make some sense).
So with the decision to move away from Diaco, where will UConn head next? Here are a list of six candidates.
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Joe Moorhead, Penn State offensive coordinator
When the news of Diaco’s firing was first announced, Moorhead’s name was the one that immediately came to the forefront. The Penn State offensive coordinator spent three years at UConn under Randy Edsall and had an uber-successful four year run after leaving Storrs as the head coach at FCS school Fordham, where he went 38-13 overall.
Moorhead would address the Huskies' biggest issue: Offense. He breathed life into the Penn State attack in his first season on campus, where the Nittany Lions ranked 22nd nationally in scoring at over 36 points per game. UConn finished dead last in the same category in 2016, tallying just 14 a game.
Greg Schiano, Ohio State defensive coordinator
Because of the offensive struggles, it seems unlikely that the school would go with a defensive-minded coach. But if they did, they could do a lot worse than Schiano. He has major Northeast ties after coaching 11 years at Rutgers and spent two years in the NFL. Back in the college game for the first time since 2011, he helped the 2016 Buckeyes finish third in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 14 points per game.
The fact that Schiano was known as a dynamic recruiter who brought of a slew of NFL talent to Rutgers should only help his pitch, especially at a school like UConn which has trouble attracting top-flight talent to campus. You’d also think his connections could probably attract a better-than-expected offensive coordinator as well.
USA TODAY SportsJoseph Maiorana
Todd Orlando, Texas defensive coordinator
Again, it seems very unlikely that the Huskies’ administration will go with a defensive-minded coach, but if they do, Orlando should be at the top of the school’s list. He worked at UConn for over a decade under former head coach Randy Edsall, helping the school earn a Fiesta Bowl berth in his final season this year. And after speaking with several former UConn players, he has the support of that faction as well.
The bigger question is if Orlando would consider leaving a job he took within the past month - when he recently joined Tom Herman at Texas as the school’s new defensive coordinator. Prior to that gig, Orlando has led the defenses at Florida International, Utah State and Houston since leaving UConn.
Tim Drevno, Michigan offensive coordinator
Drevno has been Jim Harbaugh’s right-hand man since the pair’s University of San Diego days, and was a finalist for a handful of vacant coaching positions this off-season.
Considering the Huskies’ offensive woes, and the fact that Drevno helped the Wolverines put up 41 points per game, he’s got to be considered a prime candidate for the gig.
Jedd Fisch, Michigan passing game coordinator/QB’s coach
Drevno calls the plays in Ann Arbor, but Fisch has played just as important a role in the development of the Wolverines offense. He is considered one of the best quarterback coaches in the sport, and has helped turn both Jake Ruddock and Wilton Speight into competent college signal-callers in his short time in Ann Arbor.
Prior to arriving at Michigan, he had previously worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the University of Miami.
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Les Miles, former LSU head coach
It’s the longest of long shots, but we know that Miles wants to get back into coaching, and we know he got very little buzz on the coaching carousel this winter.
Sure, UConn will almost certainly want to go with an offensive guy. And sure, Miles has said he only wants to go to a school that can compete for championships. But if you’re UConn, you at least have to make a call to a guy who won two SEC titles and a national championship, right?