Feb. 18, 2009
University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly announced three staff changes, including the hiring of former University of Virginia assistant Bob Diaco as the Bearcats defensive coordinator Wednesday (Feb. 18).
Kelly also announced the promotion of defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs to associate head coach and special teams coordinator/recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Mike Elston to assistant head coach. Coombs and Elston will also retain their current responsibilities.
“In any business, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” Kelly said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a great staff, and today we were able to make it better. I appreciate what Mike Thomas and the administration at the University of Cincinnati have done in helping us to continue to compete for BIG EAST Championships year in, and year out.”
Diaco (pronounced DEE-ah-ko) joined the Virginia staff in Dec. 2005 as the linebackers and special teams coach. Following the close of the 2008 season, he was named the Cavaliers’ defensive coordinator.
He inherits a defense that finished 31st in the nation in total defense (321.9 yards a game), 19th in run defense (115), and led the Big East in sacks (2.86).
Diaco spent the 2005 season on Kelly’s staff at Central Michigan where he served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. In 2004 he was the special teams and linebackers coach at Western Michigan. The Broncos finished in the top three in the Mid-American Conference in punting, punt returns, and kickoff returns that year.
“I’m excited to be able to reunite with Bob,” Kelly said. “He did a tremendous job for us at Central Michigan. We are very fortunate to get his expertise, his ability to motivate, and develop our players here at Cincinnati.”
From 2001-03, Diaco was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan, where he moved from coaching the running backs to coaching linebackers to coaching the secondary.
Twice an all-Big Ten selection at the University of Iowa under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, Diaco was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker in 1995. A 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa, he led the Hawkeyes in tackles in both 1994 and 1995 and finished his career as the seventh-leading tackler in Iowa history.
Diaco served as a graduate assistant at Iowa for two seasons in 1997-99 and helped the Hawkeyes to the Alamo and Sun Bowl games. His first full-time position was at Western Illinois where he was the running backs and special teams coordinator in 1999 and 2000. The Leathernecks won the Gateway Conference crown in 2000.
A native of Cedar Grove, N.J., Bob and his wife, Julia, have three children - Angelo, Josephine, and Michael.
Coombs, the former longtime head coach at Colerain HS, enters his third season on Kelly’s staff. Over the past two campaigns, he has mentored a ball-hawking secondary that led the NCAA FBS with 26 interceptions and 42 takeaways in 2007.
He has mentored all-America cornerback Mike Mickens, as well as all-BIG EAST selections Haruki Nakamura, DeAngelo Smith, and Brandon Underwood.
“Kerry’s done a fantastic job over the past couple seasons,” Kelly said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to work every day, and he has helped us establish a strong recruiting presence in a 100-mile radius from our campus.”
Elston is entering his third year at UC and his seventh on Kelly’s staff. He has established UC’s special teams unit as one of the best in the country. The Bearcats, behind two-time Associated Press All-America punter Kevin Huber, have led the nation in net punting in each of the past two seasons.
Huber, a consensus All-American in 2007, and kick returner Mardy Gilyard have helped UC win back-to-back BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year Awards. Huber earned the honor in 2007 and Gilyard took the award in 2008.
He helped UC sign a 22-member class only 65 days after Kelly accepted the UC job in 2007 and was instrumental in coordinating a 24-member class in 2008, and a 28-member recruiting class in 2009.
“Mike’s promotion is reflective of him serving in a number of capacities, including recruiting and special teams and it will help to continue his professional development towards someday becoming a head coach,” Kelly said.