Item: As Syracuse Hall of Famer Al Davis used to say, “Just Win Baby,” and not enough victories cost former Orange longtime boss Paul Pasqualoni his latest job.
When we read the opening two paragraphs of Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs’s Sunday morning story following Connecticut’s dreadful 41-12 loss at Buffalo the day before to drop to 0-4, we couldn’t help but think the picture that Jacobs was describing was one we had seen before with our own eyes:
“As Paul Pasqualoni walked off the field after this debacle, this absolute debacle, he didn’t even bother looking at Warde Manuel. The UConn athletic director stood there on the sideline, arms folded, and the UConn football coach was close enough to touch him as he walked past.
Their eyes never met.”
The exact scenario happened on Nov. 13, 2004 following SU’s inexplicable 10 point loss to a one-win (over a FCS foe) Temple team. The dreadful performance left the ‘Cuse record at 5-5, and seemingly derailed any hopes of a desperately needed post-season berth with one last game to be played at bowl-bound Boston College two weeks later, and signaled the sure-fire end to the Pasqualoni era after 14 seasons.
As Pasqualoni walked off the field towards the southeast corner visiting team locker room tunnel at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, he didn’t even bother looking at Jake Crouthamel, the Orange AD who was his biggest supporter, as he stood at the tunnel entrance, arms folded, and both men were close enough to touch one another as Pasqualoni walked past.
And, their eyes never met.
Later that weekend back in Syracuse, a furious relatively new chancellor Nancy Cantor told both men they were on thin ice, and indeed both would be gone from their respective positions by the end of the year.
At least Coach P got to patrol the sidelines for two more games as Orangemen boss after his walk-by episode with Crouthamel; a players-rallying-to-the-cause upset over B.C. keyed by Diamond Ferri’s two-way heroics, and a final embarrassing 51-14 loss to Georgia Tech in front of an unhappy brand new AD Daryl Gross in the Champs Sports Bowl.
This time around, and with Southern California making it easier for UConn with its own in-season dismissal Sunday of Lane Kiffin establishing a 2013 season protocol in our “why wait?” world, Pasqualoni may now head into retirement after a distinguished 42 year coaching career.