First-year coach Bob Diaco was making the radio rounds last week, presumably in an effort to ramp up support for a program that has floundered in recent years. Rock bottom came in 2013, when the Huskies lost nine straight before winning their final three games.
Still, Paul Pasqualoni was fired four games into the season, and his replacement, T.J. Weist, didn't survive the offseason overall. Enter Diaco, the former Notre Dame assistant whose first order of business is changing the culture of losing ahead of UConn's season opener against BYU on August 29.
“I address the players’ needs, first and foremost, giving the players everything they need,” Diaco said during an interview with 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.”
Diaco, unlike some coaches in new situations, isn't sugar-coating anything. He understand that this turnaround will be a process. But that doesn't mean he's not looking forward to the challenge.
“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." “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.”
Talk, as they say, is cheap. But that's all Diaco can do for the next three months. Then we'll get our first glimpse into this revamped Huskies team. A group that went to the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season but has since gone 5-7, 5-7 and 3-9.