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Diaco’s nomination for the Broyles Award well earned

Nov 27, 2012, 11:59 AM EDT

Bob Diaco hat

Yesterday, Bob Diaco was nominated as one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. Other assistants nominated are Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Kliff Kingsbury, the OC at Texas A&M, and defensive coordinators Dan Quinn of Florida and Derek Mason of Stanford.

Diaco, who serves as assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Irish, helped Notre Dame put together one of the top defenses in the country, currently ranked the No. 2 scoring defense in the country, No. 5 in rush defense, and No. 21 in pass defense, numbers many thought next to impossible when this staff took over. But Diaco has been steadfast in his belief that he could put together a defense that was the “Best in America,” and it has taken him three seasons to do so.

December, which has turned into banquet season for college football, should likely be kind to the Irish. Beyond Brian Kelly being an obvious front runner for many coach of the year awards, Diaco should likely hear his name called December 4th at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Whether or not Diaco wins shouldn’t take away from the season he — and his defensive staff — have had. With a rebuilt secondary and the loss of their top pass rusher, the Irish defense didn’t miss a beat, improving in just about every statistical category possible. They did that while losing one of their strongest voices, Chuck Martin, who switched from the secondary to offensive coordinator. Taking his place was Bobby Elliott, who has done a tremendous job with the secondary, working lock-step with Kerry Cooks, who ascended to co-defensive coordinator while continuing to work with the cornerbacks. Elliott is no stranger to his two new bosses, coaching both while they were players at Iowa.

With accolades like the Broyles nomination, Diaco has seen his name pop up on the head coaching radar. With 12 jobs open and counting, CBS’s Bruce Feldman had Diaco just outside his top 10 candidates for a new job, a list headlined by Bobby Petrino, that also includes perennial candidates like Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

For those Irish fans worried about losing a key defensive assistant, welcome to the world of champagne problems. With the staff Brian Kelly has assembled, it’s only a matter of time before Diaco and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin begin to get head coaching looks. The same can be said for guys further down the food chain as well, which is a credit to the job Kelly has done grooming his staff, and more importantly, winning football games.

  1. nudeman - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    How does he NOT win this?

    • mdirish - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:22 PM

      No brainer…he should win hands down.

      • drdannddad - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:33 AM

        If he doesn’t win, there should be an investigation. I sure hope he stays at ND.

  2. ER Jedi - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    There was lots of talk on the recent telecasts about other programs having their eye on Diaco as a head coach. I wonder though if he would leave if he gets an offer. I don’t know if he strikes me as “head coach” type given his quirkyness. While endearing him to his players, I don’t know if it works as much in the HC role, and I wonder if this is something Diaco would even yearn for.

    I was also thinking about Lynch and what would have happened in he ended up staying this year. Just how much better (or even worse, given that he may have served instead as a wedge in this united team) could this defense have been with him?

    • tedlinko - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      No question he’s got something special going at ND, and I don’t think he’d leave for just any offer. But it’s one thing to be a coordinator, even at an elite program like ND, and it’s another level to be the head guy. Not to mention, the ceiling on compensation is in another zip code. Fact is, he’s going to get offers. If he hasn’t already, he will soon. He may not leave this year, but at some point, we’re going to lose him – that’s just the price of success, Lets just enjoy what we’ve got while we’ve got it.

    • runners00 - Nov 27, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      I think he stays, at least for now. Petrino gets the Auburn job. Honestly, I don’t think anyone would leave the current ND, as coordinator, for a job that isn’t at the level SEC/Pac12/Big14 level.

    • 1historian - Nov 27, 2012 at 10:28 PM

      IMO if Lynch had stayed he would have HAD to grow up. No matter how talented he is they would NOT have put up with his b.s. Diaco would have left disciplining him to his teammates and I think they could have handled it – if THEY couldn’t convince him of how good this defense had the chance to be and how important it was for him to grow up if he wanted to be part of it no one could.

      And there is no way he hasn’t thought about this.

    • drdannddad - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:37 AM

      The players talk so much about the importance of team unity this year, and how important it has been to their success. In fact, Golson, when interviewed immediately after the USC game, stated that there was a big difference between this team and last year’s team in terms of unity. You have to wonder if Lynch, given his issues, would have detracted from that unity or added to it. Tough call. He certainly has the talent, but that doesn’t always translate into good chemistry as a teammate.

      • bernhtp - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:24 AM

        Aaron was more of a loner. He wanted to do things his own way. He tended to cause disunity. With that said, he was a unique talent. Maybe the leadership from Manti and others would have caused him to join “the family.” Maybe not.

        The cohesiveness of this team is a big component of its success. If Lynch could not ultimately buy into that, losing him was a good thing despite his great ability.

  3. irish4006 - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Any insight into recruiting, Keith (while we are headed into the slow period)? How are we doing with the ones already committed and with the ones outside looking in? I am still waiting to see a couple of big time CB and a WR sign with the Irish.

    • mdirish - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      CB and WR??? These are not positions of issue. How about RB and DL. If Wood and Riddick leave we’re in trouble. GAIII is fast but is not physical enough, at least not yet. Nobodys seen Amire or Mahone yet. KLM is gone and Tuitt and Nix are not far behind him.

      • bernhtp - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:29 AM

        Amir seems to be the most talented RB on the roster. However, he’s had multiple injuries and thus his durability is in deep question. If he can stay healthy, I expect him to be our leading rusher next year. He is electric.

  4. kiopta1 - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    I just haven’t seen anything that makes me think HC Diaco…yet. He is one hell of a DC and I get the impression he loves what he does now. If you want to see what happens when a very good – great OC/DC try to be an HC…just look at guys like Weis and Crennel and others. Also Diaco isn’t big on the media and doesn’t like the games that HCs have to play with boosters and others.

    • danno27 - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      Not necessarily aimed at you, but let me say that anyone thinking Diaco would not be interested in a head coaching job is exercising some pretty impressive wishful thinking. The guy is a leader, people don’t just go into coaching to become career assistant coaches, and I am 99.999% sure he can’t wait to get his crack at having his own program to build / incubate / dominate with.

      Now whether he is actually READY for a head coaching job is a completely different question, and maybe that’s what you meant here. But let’s not kid ourselves – even if he turned out to not be a great head coach (and eventually settle into his vocation as a career coordinator), he wants the chance.

      • tedlinko - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        Absoultely agree 100% – and he’s going to get his chance, sooner rather than later I think.

  5. yaketyyacc - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Awards, coaching jobs are best left until after the championship game. let’s talk rather about winnning this last, very important game. to reiterate the good is not necessary. ah, but to point out flaws in an attempt to give a solid win in Jan. about coaching, I can’t hold a candle to Kelly or Diaco. BUT, as someone who has watched college and pro football for over 60 years, common sense points can be made with some authority. Beginning with Oklahoma, coach Diaco, you changed the defenisve approach from agressively attacking the offense, to the three down linemen and flooding the receiving routes with more defensive players. all right, you won. you won’t beat Alabama or Georgia with this type of defense. Coach Diaco, a quarterback of the caliber of McCarren with five counts, will destroy the three down linemen defense.
    On the offensive side, coach Kelly, you have north south runners going east and west. bad playcalling. you run three runing plays or three passing plays in a row. easy to defend. Texas A&M defeated Alabama, not just because of “Johnny Football”, but with a complex and varied offense that kept Alabama’s defense confused and stretched. Your approach will mimic Michigan, and the result will be the same, even though our Irish is the better team. Saban or Riley, THE IRISH ARE NOT COMING, THE IRISH ARE NO.1, ARE HERE, AND WILL BE NO.1 AT THE END OF JAN.7

    • tedlinko - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      I’d say your 60 years of “watching” football aside, I think coach Kelly and coach Diaco clearly have a bit better idea how to attack Alabama or Georgia than this gibberish. Just sayin.

      Oh, and BTW, who is Riley? If you were looking for the name of Georgia’s HC, it’s Richt.

    • joeschu - Nov 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

      1. We’ve never had an offense that mimic’ed Michigan. Football Outsiders has the Irish at 8 in offensive eff. and Michigan at 25. ND’s offense is clearly better.

      2. Do you not get this “bend but don’t break” game plan? The idea here is exactly what you describe, and what makes these ESS EEE SEE perimeter guys suddenly faster than OU’s or USC’s. I guess you missed the pattern, but every week someone started predicting the “exposure” of this defense (and this team), and it just hasn’t happened. The rotation at the front 3/4 wears teams down, the backers clean everything up, and the secondary doesn’t give up YAC. That’s what the Irish do. There’s absolutely no reason why you’d change that for an ESS EEE SEE opponent.

  6. dudeacow - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    If you look at the scoring defense for Alabama and ND when they play teams BCS conferences, Alabama’s scoring defense is 11.6, and ND’s is 9.3.

  7. tonyricemajorharris - Nov 27, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    What a fantastic coach. Love the intensity

  8. joeschu - Nov 27, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    I’m going to hate seeing Bobby D on the BC sidelines. I think that one is pretty close to inevitable.

  9. mimefrog - Nov 27, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Anyone remember the sentiment after Navy 2010? There were calls for his head. LOL.

    His players straight up LOVE him. You don’t inspire that kind of devotion without having something special. We should enjoy him while we can because he is destined to be a HC at some point in the future. However, like others said, even if we win the NC, I don’t think he’s done with ND yet. I think Kelly really respects him and will “coach the coach” to be a great HC.

  10. bernhtp - Nov 27, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Our coaches have dreams of becoming head coaches. Diaco is probably first on that list – a very talented and appealing guy who will have his shot sooner rather than later.

    However, unless Diaco gets a dream offer from an upper-tier program, I imagine he will pass, for now. I also think that Kelly/Swarbrick will give him incentives to stay a bit longer, e.g., more responsibility/visibility into what head coaches do (public speaking, donor relations, assistant recruiting) to groom him as well as give him more money.

    Besides being a great coach/coordinator, Diaco is also a great human being. He loves Notre Dame and it will always have a big place in his heart regardless of where he ultimately goes. When he finally does, there will be many tears on all sides.

  11. gtizzo - Nov 27, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Bob Diaco=RKG! Stay Irish!

  12. mdirish - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    bernhtp…I got the feeling when he was promoted to assistant coach last year they bumped his pay. Bump it again and go through every quality assistant on the staff and pay them!! ND can not be victim to coaches leaving for more responsibility and marginal pay increases. Big money will make it harder for Diaco and any other quality assistant to leave.

    • bernhtp - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Money only gets you so far. Ultimately they all want to be king. It’s their dream. Diaco may be at ND next year, but almost certainly not in three. He will certainly get an offer he cannot refuse.

      • 9irish - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:33 AM

        I agree that he will go eventually, they all do. Look at how many assistants of Holtz’ ended up successful head coaches. (Urban Meyer, anyone?)

        He won’t go now. Needs to get used to it a little bit more…and when you are winning like this, hard to walk away until you have truly gotten all that you’ve put into it.

        The thing about assistant coaches, they need to start at lesser schools. He needs a MAC school or something. Weis, great offensive pro-guru…didn’t know how to be a head coach. Davie, great defensive mind (LBs), didn’t know how to be a head coach. Willingham, can’t remember where he came from, but obviously not so great as HC. Holtz, Parseghian, Devine, and Kelly were all successful head coaches way before South Bend.

        So he should hang around awhile (I hope!) Then go somewhere to learn the ropes. Then in ten years when Coach Kelly is gray and tired of winning Nat’l championships, he can come take over. Best of luck no matter what he decides to do.

        • bernhtp - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:06 AM

          I also think it unlikely he leaves this year. However, if he gets a dream job offer in Jan, he is gone. Dream positions only become vacant periodically, and you need to jump all over them when they do.

          While Iowa appears stable for now, my understanding is that he would love to return there one day.

          When he does leave, I also wouldn’t discount the possibility that he retains an “ND clause” in this contract. When BK ultimately retires – the ND pressure cooker doesn’t seem to keep great coaches much more than a decade – I bet that Bob would love the shot. He will still be young.

  13. ndgiants11 - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Kirby Smart has been with Alabama since 2007, but after Bama won the championship in the 2009 season, his alma mater – Georgia – offered him a big contract to become their DC. As we all know, he decided to stay at Alabama after they offered him more money and a contract extension. I don’t think Smart deserves all of the credit for the defense’s success because he’s had Saban in his back pocket, but there’s something to be said for keeping an elite DC at your school. Throw the bank at Diaco if he gets another offer.

  14. dickasman - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Your new head coach of the California golden bears ladies and gentlemen! Either way he be getttin paiiiiiiiiiid!

  15. wisner74 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Two words: Barry Alvarez.

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