Diaco has made no false promises about what's in store for the Huskies in 2014. The conditioning aspect of the Huskies has been something he has openly critiqued since he took over the program and from a strength and conditioning standpoint remains a focal point. The players are off for three weeks, but when the players return to campus for the summer program on June 2 he wants them to stay in shape and hit the ground running.
"The team needs a lot of work, the culture needs a lot of work and the physical portion, physical conditioning, speed and strength needs a ton of work. We are way behind to start thinking about winning games....
"Right now we are talking about how not to lose."
It's a sobering assessment of the UConn program that has missed a bowl game for three years and is coming off a 3-9 year. Stronger, faster and in better shape has been the mantra for the Huskies. When the players go home, he doesn't want them to forget that. Diaco's saying of "be away, but not off" is something he's tried to hammer home to the team.
As far as coming out of the spring, Diaco said that quarterback remains very much in flux with Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle in the mix. Cochran and Chandler were 1-2 at the end of the spring, but nothing is committed going into the summer and then the fall. Diaco also said his expectation is that quarterback Kivon Taylor will resume team activities when the summer program kicks off. Diaco had to wait to see grades posted for the spring semester before he was certain.
As far as quarterback? Here's Diaco.
"No set depth. They all need to get bigger, stronger, faster," Diaco said."We'll be well into August before any proclamations."
That didn't leave Diaco from talking about rising senior cornerback Byron Jones. Jones is a 6-foot-1 corner who has size and speed and been a two-year starter at the position after playing a lot of free safety as a freshman. Diaco's impressed.
"Byron Jones will be one of best corners in America," Diaco said. " There are a few players like that on our team that they will be stalwarts for us and need to be.
"Alex Mateas, he will be the center."
The Huskies open up Aug. 29 against BYU at home and will go into the offseason with a base of operations, but a long way to go.
*Diaco is one of the youngest head coaches in the nation, and as an All-Big 10 linebacker at Iowa in the early and mid-1990s, isn't that far removed from his playing days in big-time football.
That said, the recent talk of paying players and the unionization of football players that is being attempted at Northwestern drew a strong reaction from the Huskies' first year head coach on Tuesday.
"Totally against players becoming employees of universities," Diaco said during an AAC spring conference call. "Players playing for free? That's ridiculous. (Players) Get a spectacular education that is very hard to afford otherwise and without special talent would have trouble in getting into some of these schools."
Diaco also talked about the notion of players as employees and whether they could be fired for performance and other avenues of an employer-employee relationship. Diaco is in favor of a type of stipend for players, but was completely against the unionization and employee movements calling them "ridiculous."
* Commissioner Mike Aresco kicked off the AAC conference call with a litany of the league's achievements in its first year including the Fiesta Bowl win of UCF over Baylor. Aresco doesn't go a day without highlighting that football victory and also said the league is positioned well to compete against the Power 5.
The big issue now is Strength of Schedule and some mandates for the P5 teams to play other P5 teams. Aresco reiterated the relative strength of the conference and that when a P5 plays an AAC team, that it will be a good win in the rankings.
The mandate of playing a P5 school once a year out of conference for the other P5 schools does take away an opportunity for those teams to schedule an American team, which will then drive down the American's ratings. That's the concern for the league and everyone on the outside of the P5 structure.
"We think a win against our conference is a high quality win," Aresco said. "I look forward to playing these teams. Make sure people understand how strong and competitive our conference is."
Aresco then rattled off the non-conference schedule of some teams for next year.
"Gives is an idea of our desire to compete and be great in football," Aresco said. "Our goal isn't to hang in there and compete, it is to win. We went to the Fiesta Bowl and you saw what happened."