- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

STORRS, CONN. (AP) - Connecticut has hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as its football coach, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the hiring.

The 40-year-old Diaco takes over a team that went 3-9 this season, and fired Paul Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start and an 10-18 record in just over two years at the school.

Diaco won the 2012 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, the first Irish assistant to ever capture the award.

Earlier Wednesday, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, the 2013 Broyles winner, said he had withdrawn from consideration.

The hiring was first reported by CBS Sports.

Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel began face-to-face interviews for the job Sunday, a day after UConn completed its season by routing Memphis 45-10, the Huskies’ third consecutive win.

Interim coach T.J. Weist, who led the team to a 3-5 record after taking over for Pasqualoni, had made it clear he hoped to remain in the position.

But Manuel said the job had attracted an impressive pool of candidates. In addition to Diaco and Narduzzi, Ball State head coach Pete Lembo and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster also were linked to the position.

Manuel said he received input from important boosters and 25 former UConn players in narrowing down the finalists. He also said Saturday that money would not be an impediment to hiring a new coach.

CBS reported Diaco would receive a 5-year deal worth about $1.5 million per year.

Manuel, a former Michigan defensive end, also noted that while 27 of 31 open jobs a year ago went to coaches with experience on the offensive side of the ball, he had no such bias.

“I’m equal opportunity,” he joked. “With the exception of special teams coordinator. No offense to special teams coordinators.”

Manuel also said that the new coach will be allowed to choose his own staff, but as athletic director, he would have veto power over those choices.

He also said that while he will have some patience with the new coach, the job comes with expectations.

“This is being done so we can start winning next year, not four years from now,” he said.

____

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York contributed to this report.