Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Warde Manuel mum on coaching staff changes

Shortly before the start of the UConn/Louisville women's basketball game at the XL Center last night I caught up with UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel.

Considering the news that broke earlier in the day that George DeLeone was relinquishing his offensive coordinator position, it wasn't too hard to figure out what was the first subject broached with him. However, Manuel declined to comment on either the move of DeLeone to associate head coach while remaining the offensive line coach and the departure of defensive coordinator Don Brown to Boston College.

"I don't want to comment on that until we have our coordinators," Manuel said. "I’ll comment when we have hire our coordinators."

I was able to ask Manuel about a conversation I heard he had with the team shortly after the end of the regular season. I had heard that he lit into the team telling them to get with the program or head for the exits and that head coach Paul Pasqualoni has his full support.

Manuel said he did meet with the team but the conversation did not transpire the way I described above.

"I talked to them but it wasn’t because I felt like I needed to stand up for the coaches and I think they knew that," Manuel said. "It wasn’t a question about that but it was making sure they understood that we need to continue to work, we need to continue to get better and depending on their effort, the coaches’ effort, everybody in the room’s effort including mine that we have to put ourselves in the right position to do the right things and be prepared to have success."

Coming off back to back losing seasons, I was curious if he viewed this upcoming season even more pivotal than normal.

"Every game and everything we do is designed and should be designed to win and have success and when we don’t have a winning record we have to work even harder, work smarter and put ourselves in position in the right positions to do the right things to make success happen," Manuel said. "Every season is important and when you don’t win whether it is one season, two seasons you have to get down to the work and make things happen."

Since I periodically see reports out of Michigan with Michigan AD Dave Brandon continuing to hope that next year's UConn/Michigan game gets moved out of Rentschler Field and into a larger stadium, I asked Manuel for his take on the subject.

"It hasn’t been raised by their AD and I am not changing my perspective," Manuel said.

Finally, he spoke about having eight members of the 2012 squad playing in postseason all-star games as Nick Williams returned a pair of kickoffs for 37 yards in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Classic last week, Jory Johnson and Ryan Griffin are playing in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic on Saturday while Sio Moore will be playing in the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday as well. On Jan. 26 the trio of Dwayne Gratz, Trevardo Williams and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are taking part in the Senior Bowl and Michael Smith compete in the Texas vs. The Nation event on Feb. 2.

"That I love, it always wonderful when any of our guys go and to have eight is a real testament to talent we have on the squad and the potential that we continue to have," Manuel said. "We just have to fulfill the potential that we have because we have talent and we have a lot of guys with ability, a lot of high quality, high character kids. They’ve been through a lot and never stopped playing for UConn and their teammates. It is a testament of who they are and how they were raised, how they carried themselves and I will always be proud of this senior class."

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