UCONN head coaching candidates

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Monday September 30, 2013

Who will be the next head coach at UCONN?

After watching Warde Manuel’s press conference this afternoon, it will be interesting to see if the next head coach understands the roots of Bo Schembechler.

Warde played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan and he made that clear today

In the last four years, 11 UCONN players have been drafted and there is a history of winning, so expect a good list of quality coaches to have an interest in the job.  Warde stated today that he believes that talent is not the issue with this team.

Here is the super early list of coaches that could emerge in the UCONN search:

Florida defensive coordinator DJ Durkin has coached under Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh, and Will Muschamp.  He has experienced terrific success as a special teams coordinator, which is the only position for a coach to speak to the entire team other than as the head coach. In the off-season, Muschamp promoted Durkin the defensive coordinator.  If the Gators’ defensive success continues throughout the year, Durkin may have enough momentum to attract an athletic director with an opening.  It would be worth it considering Durkin’s success on the field, as a recruiter, and the blueprints he’s acquired. Durkin did work for Jim Harbaugh, who is a ‘Michigan man’ like Warde Manuel.

Pat Narduzzi (47) has coached under Mark Dantonio since 2004 at Cincinnati and Michigan State. His defenses have been one of the most consistent in all of America.  In the past two seasons, only Michigan State and Alabama have ranked in the Top 15 in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense.  In March, Dantonio rewarded Narduzzi with the title of assistant head coach. Narduzzi is from Connecticut and coached at Rhode Island, but could Warde Manuel, a ‘Michigan man’ hire a Michigan State assistant? 

Pete Lembo went 44-14 at Lehigh, 35-22 at Elon, and is now 19-11 as the Ball State head coach.   If Warde Manuel wants to hire a coach with successful head coaching experience in the Northeast, Lembo could emerge as a candidate.  

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Having served a grad assistant at Michigan in 1983-84, Cam Cameron knows what Warde is taking about when he describes Bo Schembechler.  Though his head coaching tenure at Indiana and with the Miami Dolphins didn’t go well, he's hot right now and likely will have momentum at the end of the season.  At LSU, he’s set to earn $1.3 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015.  Cameron is only 52-years-old and he’d bring a big name to UCONN. Earlier his summer, Cameron talked about his connection to Bo Schembechler.  But do you see Cameron leaving LSU?  Do you see LSU allowing Cameron to leave? 

Keep an eye on Notre Dame defensive coordinator / linebackers / assistant head coach Bob Diaco.  Last season, Diaco won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.  He has previously coached at Cincinnati, Virginia, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois, and his alma mater Iowa.

Former UCONN offensive coordinator and current Towson University head coach Rob Ambrose has led Towson to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association championships and was recipient of the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award in 2011.  In most cases it would help a coach’s chances to land a head coaching job at place he previously coached, but the concern of a product already seen likely hurts Ambrose’s chances.

Finally, don't rule out TJ Weist.  

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Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest