Jan. 7, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Bob Diaco, who directed Cincinnati's defense to top-10 rankings in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2009 while serving as the Bearcats' defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, has been hired to the same post at the University of Notre Dame, Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced Thursday.
A former all-Big Ten linebacker at the University of Iowa, Diaco's 14-year coaching career has included stops at schools in the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, BIG EAST and Mid-American Conferences.
In his first season at Cincinnati, Diaco was charged with replacing 10 starters on the Bearcats' defense, including every player on the front seven for 2009. Diaco implemented an aggressive defense predicated on pressure in the offensive backfield that led to Cincinnati ranking in the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss and sacks.
The Bearcats recorded 110 tackles for loss in 2009, an average of 8.46 per contest, and ranked third in the country. They totaled 37 sacks and tied for 10th nationally, averaging 2.85 sacks per game. Cincinnati allowed 3.6 rushing yards per carry.
Diaco focused on the inside linebackers and helped Andre Revels and JK Schaffer experience career years in their first seasons as starters. Revels led the Bearcats with 108 tackles and added 4.5 tackles for loss and one interception, while Schaffer ranked second on the team with 100 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Safety Aaron Webster was named first-team all-BIG EAST in 2009 after pacing Cincinnati with four interceptions and five pass breakups. Defensive end Ricardo Mathews was named second-team all-BIG EAST as a first-year starter after he recorded a team-best 12.5 tackles for loss.
Prior to Cincinnati, Diaco spent three years as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator on Al Groh's coaching staff at the University of Virginia from 2006-08. At the conclusion of the 2008 season, Diaco was promoted to the Cavaliers' defensive coordinator position, but he left two months later to take the same position at Cincinnati.
Diaco's linebackers were critical to Virginia in allowing only 3.7 yards per carry and just over 21 points per game to their opponents in 2008. Senior outside linebacker Clint Sintim was named the team's outstanding defensive player after leading the Cavaliers with 13 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He was named second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference and led the nation in sacks by a linebacker. Senior inside linebacker Jon Copper paced Virginia with 101 tackles in 2008 to become the first Cavalier since 1984 to lead the team in tackles three straight seasons.
In 2007, Diaco's linebackers were key to one of the top defenses in the country that helped the Cavaliers register a 9-4 record (6-2 in the ACC) and a Gator Bowl appearance. Only four schools permitted fewer rushing touchdowns than Virginia's nine, and the Cavaliers allowed 106.9 rushing yards per game, 13th in the nation. The Cavaliers ranked 16th nationally at 19.7 points allowed per game and were 23rd in total defense, allowing 332.5 yards per game. Copper benefited from Diaco's tutelage as he led Virginia in tackles for the second year in a row with a career-high 109 stops.
Diaco also helped senior punter Ryan Weigand earn second-team all-ACC honors in 2007 after Weigand averaged 45.2 yards per punt to finish fourth in the nation in punting. Placekicker Chris Gould finished his Cavalier career sixth on the school's all-time field goals converted list with 27 field goals made.
In his first season at Virginia, Diaco had a young linebackers group. He helped Copper earn the 2006 Speed Elliot Award, presented annually to the Cavaliers' most improved player. Diaco also directed the special teams and helped Gould expand his role from punter to placekicker and kickoff specialist as well. Gould continued to be a consistent punter, dropping 29 punts inside the 20-yard line to set the school record, but he also drove more than 70 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone, resulting in 21 touchbacks.
Diaco served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Kelly at Central Michigan in 2005. In his only season with the Chippewas, Diaco turned around Central Michigan's rushing defense that just two years earlier had ranked last in the Mid-American Conference. Under Diaco's watch, Central Michigan led the MAC, allowing only 113.7 rushing yards per game. He also helped defensive end Dan Bazuin lead the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss and tie a MAC record with 16 sacks.
In 2004, Diaco was the special teams and linebackers coach at Western Michigan. His punting, punt return and kickoff return units all finished in the top three of the MAC.
From 2001-03, Diaco was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan, where he moved from coaching the running backs in 2001 to coaching linebackers in 2002 to coaching outside linebackers in 2003.
Diaco's first full-time position was at Western Illinois where he was the running backs coach and special teams coordinator in 1999 and 2000. The Leathernecks won the Gateway Conference crown in 2000 and made an appearance in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.
Diaco served as a graduate assistant at Iowa for two seasons in 1996 and 1997 and helped the Hawkeyes to the Alamo and Sun Bowl games.
Twice an all-Big Ten selection at Iowa under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, Diaco was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker in 1995. That same season he was named the team's co-MVP. He led the Hawkeyes in tackles in both 1994 and 1995 and finished his career as the seventh-leading tackler in Iowa history with 334 career stops. He also had 13 tackles for loss, broke up 10 passes and collected three sacks during his career. Diaco started all 23 games during his final two seasons.
Diaco graduated from Iowa in 1995 with a degree in sociology.
Born Feb. 19, 1973, Diaco is a native of Cedar Grove, N.J., and attended Cedar Grove High School where he was named the Northeast Defensive Player of the Year by SuperPrep as a senior.
He and his wife, Julia, have three children: Angelo, Josephine and Michael.
THE DIACO FILE