Connecticut selects Paul Pasqualoni

UConn has tabbed Paul Pasqualoni as its next football coach, a familiar face in the Big East and around Connecticut.

Pasqualoni, 61, was the head coach at Syracuse from 1991 through 2004, over which time he amassed a 107-59-1 record, and appeared in nine bowl games, including two Fiesta Bowls and one Orange Bowl. The Orange were 6-3 in Bowl games during his tenure.

In his 14 seasons at Syracuse the Orange had just one losing season, and finished ranked in the top 25 seven times.

Pasqualoni, who's a native of Cheshire, CT, has excellent recruiting ties in the North East. He was responsible for bringing Bloomfield's Dwight Freeney and New Britain's Tebucky Jones to Syracuse, and he also had future Rutgers star Ray Rice committed to Syracuse before he was fired.

Funny enough, now he'll get a chance to coach Tebucky Jones' son, Tebucky Jones Jr, who's a redshirt freshman wide receiver on the Huskies.

Last week the Connecticut High School Coaches Association sent a letter to Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway, endorsing Pasqualoni for the job. Pasqualoni would undoubtedly help the Huskies keep the state's top talent at home, a task that Randy Edsall and his staff struggled with over the years.

Prior to his time at Syracuse, Pasqualoni was the head coach at Division III Western Connecticut State University, where he tallied a 28-13 record over four seasons. In his final season at WestConn, the Colonials finished 10-2, losing in the first round of the D-III Playoffs.

Since 2005 Pasqualoni has been coaching as an assistant in the NFL. From 2005-2007 he coached the tight ends and then the linebackers in Dallas. He spent 2008 and 2009 seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. This past season he was back on the Dallas staff, and when Wade Phillips was fired he was promoted to interim defensive coordinator. It was being reported that Pasqualoni was the leading candidate for the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator position heading into next season.

It will be interesting to see which direction he goes with the coordinators and assistants. Might he keep Joe Moorhead? It's possible. A source close to the team told me that Joe Moorhead wants to, and has been trying to run the spread offense, but Randy Edsall wouldn't allow it. We have no idea what Joe Moorhead is capable of at this point, because Edsall did not give him the leeway he needed to run his playbook.

Regardless of who is named offensive coordinator, job number one is going to be to fix the Huskies broken passing attack. If there's one thing Connecticut has been consistent with over the past six seasons, it's been an anemic passing game. Since 2005, the Huskies have failed to throw for 2000 yards in a season four times and are last in the Big East over that period in almost every statistical passing category.

This past year, UConn threw for 1964 yards, while their Fiesta Bowl opponent, Oklahoma, threw for 4807 yards. That's more yardage than the Huskies have amassed through the air over the last two seasons, combined.

This is a homecoming for Pasqualoni, and there is little, to no flight risk should he be successful. It's an ultra-conservative pick, but no one can question Pasqualoni's credentials. Of all the names that circulated throughout this process, only former Tennessee Head Coach Phil Fulmer has a resume stronger than Pasqualoni's.

Before fans jump off the deep end and complain that the Huskies are hiring a guy that Syracuse University fired, consider the fact that Syracuse Athletic Director Daryl Gross, in all likelihood, made a mistake when he fired Pasqualoni. In the 11 seasons prior to Pasqualoni's arrival, the Orange went 71-52-4 (.575). During Pasqualoni's time they went 107-59-1 (.644), and in the six seasons since his departure, they've gone 22-50 (.305).

Furthermore, the man has spent three seasons as a defensive coordinator in NFL since his firing and was on the verge of being named to the position again in Dallas for the upcoming season. He has a sterling reputation in the coaching community and has a Rolodex full of recruiting contacts up and down the East Coast.

Again, it's a safe pick, a pick that the Connecticut High School Coaches Association wanted, but it cannot be argued that Paul Pasqualoni is not well qualified for the position.

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