I want to congratulate Paul Pasqualoni and his University of Connecticut football program.
It's become obvious that winning games isn't on the agenda for the rest of this year, so Coach PP and company have at the very least decided to make losing as interesting as possible.
Most of this year's defeats (and even a few wins) have followed the run, run, throw, punt scheme. That was getting old, though, so today, on Homecoming Weekend at Uconn against Temple, Pasqualoni and crew threw in FOUR missed field goals and a defensive lapse at the end, just to spice things up.
Thanks guys. Much appreciated.
What else could be said at this stage of the season? Andrew pointed out all the failings of this team in his post-game comments. Everyone deserves blame. There wasn't one aspect of the team that distinguished itself, even the usually stellar defense, which allowed a touchdown after an 80-yard Temple drive towards the end of the first half and the 12-play, 72 yard drive for the tying touchdown with 19 seconds to go in the fourth (though, to be fair, the defense did force four second half punts, back-to-back turnovers on downs, and an interception). The offense, which exploded for 14 points and nearly 200 yards in the first quarter, evidently thought it had achieved its scoring limit for the game and promptly turned back into the predictable three-and-out machine it has been for going on two years now.
And what can we say about the special teams? Four missed field goals speaks for itself.
But, like always, this comes down to the coaching staff.
Look, we all know the issues. Unless, as Andrew pointed out, UConn runs the table, which is about as likely as Lindsay Lohan earning Mensa membership, the fate of the coaching staff is going to come down to one thing: does Warde Manuel believe Paul Pasqualoni deserves more than two years to build this program.
That's it. That's the question and only one man knows the answer.
Now, if you read some of the columnists covering the Huskies, it would seem many of them believe the answer is an obvious "yes." Last week the Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs said that if Pasqualoni lost to Temple, the calls for his ouster would start coming from more places than the "fringe" so now that UConn has lost to Temple, I'm proud to call myself part of the mainstream. Pasqualoni's defenders will say that no college football coach can accurately be judged in such a short span.
See, we can judge something right now. We can judge how this team is performing. We can judge whether this team is getting better or worse. We can judge whether Pasqualoni is getting the best or worst out of his squad. That's something on display every Saturday.
The grade? Failing.
You can say that Pasqualoni needs time to implement his system all you want. You can point to recruits and allowing Coach PP to get "his players" onto the roster. The simple fact is he's had a team of players for nearly two years now and he's gotten very little out of them. In fact, the team has regressed considerably.
Should this team be losing to Western Michigan? Should it be non-competitive from an offensive standpoint against Rutgers? Should it be losing to Temple at home after taking a 14-0 first quarter lead?
I can't see how the answer could be yes.
Maybe Pasqualoni can't be expected to take this group to a conference championship or a formidable bowl, but, dear God, he should be able to lead them to wins over the likes of Western Michigan and Temple. If nothing else, a good coach would have this team playing better. The mistakes of game two shouldn't be showing up in game seven. And there shouldn't be new mistakes cropping up.
Look, if Pasqualoni was a younger coach, an up-and-comer with a lot of promise, this could be viewed as growing pains, swallowed only because the possibility of greatness still existed. And it's not just that Pasqualoni is far too old to be considered an up-and-comer, it's that his track record indicates this is who he is....or at least who he's become.
Pasqualoni's last six years at Syracuse were essentially a mirror image of the last year and a half at Storrs. With the exception of one big year (2001 when Cuse went 10-3) the Orange under Pasqualoni were at, slightly above, or slightly below .500, both in overall and conference record. Those years were the very definition of mediocre. So, if you struggle through what is increasingly looking like an atrocious year, what's the payoff next year? 7-5? A whopping 8-4? It's pretty obvious that the Pasqualoni ceiling is pretty damn low.
Like many, I wasn't on board with the Pasqualoni hire but I wanted it to work. It isn't working. There's nothing to indicate it will work. Under normal circumstances, two years isn't a fair amount of time to judge a college coach. In this case, two years is plenty of time to determine you made a mistake in the first place.