Football: UConn fires defensive coordinator Billy Crocker

The UConn Husky defense was one of the worst of all time. Photo by Eric Wang/The Daily Campus

The UConn Husky defense was one of the worst of all time. Photo by Eric Wang/The Daily Campus

Billy Crocker will not return as defensive coordinator for UConn football next season after two years with the team, the team announced Friday.

“After evaluating the program throughout the season and during the recruiting process, I decided to make these changes to my staff,” head coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “I appreciate all the work these four men have done and thank them for their effort and dedication during their time at UConn.”

Defensive backs coach Curome Cox, director of football strength and conditioning Eric Klein and assistant strength and conditioning coach J.D. Mehlhorn were also let go.

Crocker oversaw possibly the worst defense in UConn history during his time with the team. The Huskies gave up an FBS-record 623.6 yards per game in 2018, blowing past the old mark set by Kansas in 2015 (560.8) and allowed 50.4 points per game, the highest since Stanford in 1918.

UConn lost eight of their games by 30 points or more, giving up over 500 yards of total offense in all but one of them. This included a total annihilation by Boise State in week two, a game in which they gave up 418 yards passing, 400 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the first 15 plays of the game.

This unit’s historic failure this season was due to a variety of causes, some not entirely Crocker’s fault. Freshmen often made up the majority of UConn’s starting lineup on defense in 2018 and that, combined with a switch from Crocker’s unorthodox 3-3-5 defense to a more traditional 4-3 formation in 2018, contributed to the discontinuity.

Crocker looked like a savvy choice when UConn hired him from Villanova in 2017. The Waterford native spent the 12 previous seasons at Villanova, five as defensive coordinator, and led the best defense in the FCS the year before coming to Storrs.

UConn will now have to look for another upcoming defensive mind to take control of what will likely still be their youngest unit.

On the other side of the ball, offensive coordinator John Dunn was promoted to associate head coach in the same staff shakeup, retaining his duties as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

“John did an outstanding job establishing positive relationships with our student-athletes in his first year with us and installed an effective offense that will continue to be productive,” Edsall said. “I look forward to John being in charge of the UConn offense for years to come.”


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.

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