Friday, January 14, 2011

Former Syracuse Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni Back in Big East

Interesting developments in the Syracuse Orangemen football landscape.

Yesterday afternoon many onlookers believed that the University of Connecticut was going to announce the hire of Mark Whipple as new head football coach for the Huskies. Apparently the Connecticut High School Coaches Association sent a letter to the UCONN athletic director Jeff Hathaway, giving Paul Pasqualoni their full endorsement.

Perhaps that was enough, because late afternoon Thursday word came down that the next head coach at Connecticut is indeed our old friend Coach P.

Paul Pasqualoni was an assistant under Dick MacPherson from 1987 until 1991, at which time he was named head football coach at Syracuse University. Born in Cheshire, CT, Coach P led the Orangemen to a 107-59-1 record during his 14 year career and a bowl game record of 6-3.

The departure of Donovan McNabb and the inability to bring in another star quarterback signaled the downturn of Syracuse football under Paul Pasqualoni. While the team enjoyed a successful 2001 season, the Orangemen toiled away in mediocrity the following three seasons (4-8, 6-6, 6-6).

After getting blown out in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2004 51-14 at the hands of Georgia Tech there was a growing sentiment around campus that a change had to be made. Even though Chancellor Nancy Cantor said that Pasqualoni would be back for the 2005 season, newly hired athletic director Daryl Gross took just 12 days to fire Coach P and usher in Greg Robinson.

In Syracuse's first campaign without Coach P, Greg Robinson steered the Cuse to a 1-10 record, the worst season in the history of SU Football. [The Syracuse team that went 4-2 in the Big East in Pasqualoni's final season went 0-7 in the Big East under Greg Robinson his first season at the helm.]

Coach P went on to be a position coach in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys before being hired by Bill Parcells in 2008 as the defensive coordinator to help turn around the struggling Miami Dolphins.

Pasqualoni then returned to the Cowboys for the 2010 season and took over the defensive coordinator duties after Wade Phillips was fired mid-season.

Which leads us to today. Now Paul Pasqualoni is back in the Big East and coaching the Connecticut Huskies. I'm sure many of you out there are unsure how to respond to this news. Pasqualoni's career at Syracuse started 73-27-1 and had Syracuse in the nation's season ending Top-25 six of his first eight seasons. Over the next 66 games however, Syracuse was a mere 34-32.

So how do we react when Paul Pasqualoni returns to the Carrier Dome on the visitors sidelines?

I think the only respectable thing to do is give Coach P. the standing ovation he's earned during his 14 year stay in Syracuse, regardless of how his tenure ended, and then proceed to beat the PANTS off of the huskies!

As Syracuse fans we can not forget about the 10-win seasons, the 6-3 bowl record, and the top NFL talent he brought in over the years. Even when Syracuse football was at the lows under Coach P, there were always NFL players on our roster, which is something we can not say about GROB's tenure. There was always a chance for SU to pull an upset under Pasqualoni. In our darkest hours with Pasqualoni, you can bet Syracuse would have at least one win against a top-25 team.

Who can forget about the three straight Big East Conference Championships? Had Michael Vick not spurned the Orangemen there would have been a lot more of them. Also, had Daryl Gross not been so quick to pull the trigger on Coach P. Ray Rice would have been wearing orange and blue instead of running wild in Piscataway, NJ for Rutgers establishing their program when he could have been rejuvenating ours.

This Cuse fan wishes Paul Pasqualoni well, but not too well. Hopefully he doesn't spend the next ten years beating the crap out of Syracuse, and hopefully he never finishes with a better Big East record than we have. However, if we were looking for a new rivalry in the Big East, we just got one.

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