Tommy Tuberville has added Louisiana Tech linebackers coach Jeff Koonz to coach the safeties. By all accounts it seems that Koonz and current secondary coach Steve Clinkscale will split duties, with the latter having responsibility over the cornerbacks. Of course that’s just theory born in logic but who knows what Tuberville has in mind for his staff.
But as of last night the other major open position, defensive coordinator, had yet to be filled. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen reported that UConn defensive coordinator Hank Hughes was the leading candidate to win the job, I wanted to do a bit of research on him before putting together a write up.
— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) January 9, 2014
Hughes has been with at UConn for the better part of this century, coming to the school from Memphis in 2001. The defensive specialist survived one coaching change, sticking around with the Huskies when Randy Edsall left for Maryland, but couldn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat a second time when Connecticut most recently hired Bob Diaco as head coach. Diaco was of course Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and likely wanted to bring in his own staff with his kind of philosophies. Unfortunately that left Hughes without a job.
But Tommy Tuberville appears interested in his services and seems to have put him at the top of the list. Like with Koonz, Hughes will have to find success on the recruiting trail. While he doesn’t seem to have many “Midwest” ties, the defensive coordinator has pulled several recruits out of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region in general over the years. Hughes did come into the Cincinnati area and snagged linebacker Marquise Vann from Fairfield back in 2010. Regardless of the circumstances around both programs at that time, the fact that a UConn coach convinced a Cincinnati kid to not only go to school away from home but go to Storrs, Connecticut is cause for praise in my eyes. Hughes fought off the likes of Stanford and Minnesota to get Vann.
On the coaching side, the Huskies have prided themselves on stout defenses and much of that can be attributed to Hughes’ efforts. While UConn is continuously hindered by offenses that don’t do much with the football, they always seem to produce tough defenses on an annual basis. Heck in 2012 the Huskies won just five games but boasted the 9th best defense in college football. He wasn’t the coordinator then but this past season, when he was promoted to DC, UConn boasted the 23rd best rushing defense and 52nd best total defense is college football. Considering the Huskies’ offense was as abysmal as it’s ever been, those numbers are pretty impressive in my eyes.
So if Hughes is hired I wouldn’t be disappointed. Just because he carries the “UConn football” name doesn’t make him a poor coach. Hughes has a solid track record on the recruiting trail and has contributed to some pretty strong Husky defenses during his time in Storrs. I’d be curious to see what he could do for a Cincinnati program with a far better pedigree and more talent at its disposal.