Josh Reardon’s college football coaching journey has taken him to Storrs, Conn., where the Sturgis native was recently announced as the University of Connecticut’s cornerbacks coach and co-special teams coordinator.
Reardon spent the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame under coordinator Bob Diaco, who took the head job with the Huskies in mid-December. Reardon, who begins his third stint under Diaco, joins fellow Fighting Irish transfer Ernest Jones (running backs coach) on a staff looking to rebuild a program that went 3-9 in 2013. UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start and 10-18 record over two-plus seasons.
After getting the call from Diaco, Reardon packed as much as he could fit into his car and hit the road Jan. 5 at 4:30 a.m. He arrived in Storrs at 6:30 p.m. and started work the next morning.
“You’ve got to be ready to roll,” Reardon said about life as a college coach. “I’m obviously pretty excited about it; it’s a great opportunity.”
Diaco was named the Frank Broyles Award winner in 2012, which honors the nation’s top assistant, after guiding a Notre Dame defense that ranked near the top in most statistical categories and was critical in the Irish reaching the BCS National Championship.
When Diaco left Notre Dame, which finished this past season 9-4, prior to its Pinstripe Bowl appearance against Rutgers, Reardon rolled right into a leadership role preparing the linebackers.
“Coach Reardon, he just stepped in and honestly he’s done a fantastic job with me and the rest of the linebackers,” Irish senior Dan Fox said at the time. “With Coach Diaco leaving I was a little nervous, but once [Reardon] stepped in with my position I knew we were going to be O.K.”
Though he was certainly focused on beating the Scarlet Knights, Reardon hoped Diaco would eventually come calling.
Reardon, who played linebacker and long snapper at Central Michigan University (2001-04) under then-head coach Brian Kelly, got his first taste of coaching the following year as a graduate assistant at CMU under Diaco.
Kelly and most of his coaching staff moved on to Cincinnati in 2007. Reardon remained at Central that year before spending three seasons at Sacred Heart, where he coached the defensive line (2008), the secondary (2009) and took over as defensive coordinator in 2010. In 2011, he served as assistant defensive coordinator at Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
Kelly invited him to South Bend in 2012.
“He was always one of those guys who worked hard,” Kelly said during fall camp in 2012. “You could tell he was the son of a coach. He came from that and you could tell that he was going to coach one day. “We kept an eye on him, and he really progressed through the coaching ranks. When we had an opportunity with an opening, he was the first guy we called. We think this gives him a great platform to continue his career.”
Reardon completely agrees.
“My reason for taking the [ND] job was I wanted the experience of working at the highest level of college football and I wanted to have the experience of working at one of the most storied football programs ever … and the people that were [at the program],” he said. “I had the utmost respect for Coach Kelly and Coach Diaco and Mike Elston. So for me it was an incredible experience. We had two very successful years and built relationships that will last forever. And I was able to further my career. It was an incredible stop.”
But it’s the chemistry with Diaco through three seasons working together that made an already attractive position at UConn a no-brainer.
“He has been incredible to work for,” Reardon said. “He’s an unbelievable football coach, a great teacher and a great mentor to me. Obviously, it was ingrained in me earlier a lot of the ideals and beliefs he taught. It was kind of reinforced reaffirmed over the last two years. We’ve built a great working relationship and personal relationship. I was fortunate enough that he gave me an opportunity to join the staff.”
Having dabbled in nearly every position, the responsibility of overseeing corners and special teams won’t be foreign. Reardon was the secondary coach on top of his defensive coordinator duties at Sacred Heart, and he’s had a hand in special teams at every stop.
“It’s an honor without question,” Reardon said. “UConn is a high-level job and the kind of place you can go out and get a pretty incredible staff, which [Diaco] has gone out and done. The fact that he thought enough of me to give me the opportunity is pretty humbling.”