Pat Narduzzi said no. Bob Diaco said yes.
Just hours after Narduzzi, the Michigan State defensive coordinator, turned down the opportunity to become the next head football coach at the University of Connecticut, Diaco, Notre Dame's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, has become the new head coach.
ESPN's Brent McMurphy tweeted late Wednesday night that Diaco was first "in serious negations" to become the next UConn head coach. Later, CBS Sports reporter Bruce Feldman tweeted that a deal had been reached between UConn and Diaco for five years, starting at $1.5 million a year. The school made the announcement Thursday morning.
Diaco, 40, won the 2012 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach, when Notre Dame went to the BCS title game. He also coached at Cincinnati, Virginia, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan Western Illinois and Iowa.
He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection at Iowa, playing for coach Hayden Fry, leading the team in tackles in both 1994 and '95, finishing his career as the seventh-leading tackler in Iowa history with 334 career stops.
"Bobby was always extremely tough, very intelligent," Fry said in a 2010 story. "He's intelligent enough to analyze the situation and come up with a solution. The players (at Iowa) responded to him. He was one of my best leaders."
Diaco also has regional ties. He was born in Cedar Grove, N.J.
According to earlier reports, Manuel was willing to pay Narduzzi an "aggressive" salary to become the Huskies' new head football coach. Apparently, however, he wasn't willing to pay Narduzzi's potential assistants an "aggressive" salary, and because of that, Narduzzi turned down Manuel's offer.
Wednesday night, the Michigan State Twitter site, Spartan football, tweeted this statement from Nadruzzi: "I was honored to be considered by Warde Manuel and the University of Connecticut for its head coaching position. After consideration, I have withdrawn from the search, and I'm devoting my full attention to our players and team in preparation for our Rose Bowl game. Go Spartans!"
Narduzzi won the 2013 Broyles Award.
After Narduzzi's refusal, rumors started flying, particularly through Twitter, that Ball State head coach Pete Lembo was getting the job, but that proved to be false.
Diaco was Manuel's guy.
When asked over the weekend what kind of salary he would be able to pay his new head coach, Manuel said that he'd be competitive with the market.
"I'm going to be able to pay what I believe somebody's worth as the head coach at the University of Connecticut," he said. "What that is and how that'll turn out, I don't know, but I don't step into this feeling like I'm at a deficit because my hands are tied on what I can pay."
As it turns out, $7.5 million could be more than enough to land his man.