Pasqualoni will return next year

It has been a college football off-season that has been dominated as much by talks of potential bowl matchups as high profile coaching changes reverberating nationwide from the swamp, to the golden dome and Salt Lake.

In an environment where change has been the word of note of late, one school decided to keep their man…at least for one more season. Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced her decision Monday night to retain Paul Pasqualoni next season as head coach.

It is an agreement contingent upon the approval of the new athletic director, who will have the final say, Cantor said.

"I have accepted Jake's recommendation and have communicated to Paul our intention that he will go into his 15th football season as head coach at SU," Cantor said. "Paul and I have spoken, and he also understands my position that the new athletics director will fully expect to be empowered to evaluate the football program, as well as our entire athletic operation, and to be able to make his or her own decisions about the best way to move forward."

The ire of fans, who called for Pasqualoni's firing, was escalated following the Orange's 34-24 loss to Temple. It was Syracuse's second loss to the Owls in three seasons, and Temple's only conference victory in its final season in the Big East.

Since 2001, when Syracuse was 10-3 and defeated Kansas State in the Bowl, Pasqualoni has been on the hot seat as the Orange have fallen into mediocrity, amassing a combined record of 16-19 record in three seasons since.

Despite winning a share of the conference crown this season and earning an invite to play Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl Dec. 21 in Orlando, Syracuse was a mere shadow of the consistent Division 1 power it was during the 1990's.

The Orange were just 1-4 against ranked teams, there lone win coming in a dominating season-ending performance against Boston College, a game that may have saved Pasqualoni's job. Syracuse was 4-2 in a conference that experienced a down year by all accounts.

Many speculated A.D. Jake Crouthhamel's impromptu retirement announcement in November was a sign of major changes to come. Pasqualoni, who posted identical 10-2 seasons in his first two years in Syracuse in 1991 and 1992, earned his chance to return the Orange to glory in the final year of his contract in 2005-2006.

"I believe in our program and our University," said Paul Pasqualoni. "I appreciate the support of Chancellor Cantor and Jake Crouthamel. Like everything else in our lives, I know there are no guarantees. I know this is a critical moment, and that I need to make necessary adjustments to make the most of it."

"We are certainly very happy in the way that the administration and the University feel about this," he added. "This past week this has certainly been a concern and it has been a concern of mine. I am just very happy with the way it has come out."

An optimistic Pasqualoni affirmed his belief in the Orange program, pointing to a core group of players that will return next season. The senior class, led by running back Damian Rhodes and defensive end James Wyche, will return much experience.

With 10 commitments from recruits and plans for an 11,200 square-foot strength and conditioning to begin, pending approval of the City Planning Commission, the program is making strides, Pasqualoni said.

"We have some outstanding young talent on this team and are optimistic about this program," Pasqualoni said. "We feel very good about the determination, quality and character of the players we have."

"We understand what the standards and the expectations are here," he added. "That was one of the big reasons that I came here, to be a part of a program that is committed to excellence."

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