Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni was hired as the next head coach of Connecticut football, the school announced Thursday.
Pasqualoni replaces the outgoing Randy Edsall, who took over as the head coach of Maryland after leading Connecticut to the Big East championship and spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
“We are very proud to welcome Paul Pasqualoni to the UConn family and also bring him back home to his native Connecticut,” said University of Connecticut Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway in a statement released by the school.
Here are some of our quick takes on Pasqualoni’s move back to the Big East:
Coach P a lukewarm hire
This is a pretty middling move for the Huskies. On one hand, Pasqualoni knows the Northeast recruiting scene very well and will be able to land his fair share recruits. He also had the support of Connecticut high school football coaches, who will almost certainly steer their best players Pasqualoni’s way. That will come at the expense of Syracuse and Rutgers, who have had skirmishes over the same players in recent years.
There’s also no doubting Pasqualoni’s success in college. He went 107-59-1 in his time at Syracuse and left the school as SU’s second most winning coach while leading them to a bowl appearance in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.
That being said, while Pasqualoni won’t drive Connecticut to the floor like Greg Robinson did at Syracuse, Connecticut’s ceiling isn’t that high. Much like when he was at Syracuse, I doubt Pasqualoni is going to land a large amount of blue chip recruits.
He’ll pluck the occasional top flight recruit here and there, but I don’t see Connecticut being a consistent top 15 team and yearly competing for a shot to play in a BCS game. His tenure will be like what it was in Syracuse — better than average, but not spectacular.
In fairness to the Huskies, Connecticut didn’t have a lot of attractive options available. The shortlist consisted of former Miami assistant Mark Whipple and Pasqualoni. At the very least, this should make for a more interesting game with SU and Connecticut get together. Perhaps they should name the game the “Battle for the Pasqualoni Trophy.”
Pasqualoni may struggle recruiting
I’m not sure how well he’s going to do there. Yes, UConn went to a BCS game, so he might inherit some talent, but Connecticut is not particularly a football school.
What I’m more concerned about with regard to Pasqualoni, is his system and recruiting. The last few years at Syracuse, both got stale. It’s getting harder and harder to recruit for the option because less and less of the top players want to play in that system.
All of that craze these days in recruiting is playing in a pro-style offense because it will set them up better for the NFL.
Quarterbacks don’t want to go to a place that is going to set them up for a position change at the NFL level. Wide receivers don’t want to go to a system that passes the ball only 10 to 12 times a game. The only position that really thrives is running back, but you need more than a good running back to be successful.
Pasqualoni’s been away from the college game for a couple of years. I’m not sure whether that will help or hurt him. But I will say this: although he had an impressive record at Syracuse, he went 16-20 in his last three seasons as SU’s head coach.