David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
With only a handful of years left in his career, what can Paul Pasqualoni really do at UConn?
It is easy to say that the stories that ran on this site after the loss to Western Michigan represent in-the-moment overreaction by an aggravated fanbase. The first recap ran under the headline "Fire Everyone" and the second piece throttled second-year coach Paul Pasqualoni for an inexcusable second loss to Western Michigan. It is not hard to cut down that reaction, after all two years ago the Huskies opened up in identical fashion, going 2-2 with an embarrassing road loss to a MAC team, and that team made the BCS. Could that happen again? Sure it could, and if it does I would be happy to call this the second-least prophetic article in the history of this website, but I do not that will be happening.
This year feels different from 2010. Yes, the slow start that year was a result of failed execution, but that team at least seemed to have talent in all three phases of the game. Even more importantly, it had an offensive line that could block, which is not something you can say about either of UConn's o-lines under Pasqualoni, despite the talent left on his roster when he arrived. The 2010 Huskies may have been losing, but at least they were losing in a way that was not entirely dispiriting. That cannot be said for this group.
So no, I do not think UConn is going to turn this around, because even in a conference that is as sorry as the Big East (and any conference that is half made up with teams like Syracuse, USF, UConn and Temple is in a sorry state indeed) the flaws seem too large to overcome.
Even with that dismal prognosis, calling for a coach's job four games into his second season might seem premature - but it's not and I'll tell you why. Paul Pasqualoni is sixty-three-years old. This is not a young coach that UConn should let work through his problems because he has the potential to bring eight or ten years of sustained success down the line. This is an old man who even if given the standard four years to get his own players into the school will only have a small handful of years left to do anything before UConn has to blow things up again - and that's making the big assumption that those four years would bring an exciting, successful brand of football to Rentschler Field.
To make it worse, Pasqualoni is also stubborn. Ask any Syracuse fan and they will tell you that one of biggest, if not the primary reason Pasqualoni was let go was his refusal to cut ties with offensive coordinator George DeLeone, who is now dragging down Pasqualoni at Connecticut. Not only has DeLeone's play calling alternated between being infuriating and inexplicable, but he also decided to replace Mike Foley as the offensive line coach. Foley, who was in charge of last year's relatively-disappointing line was the architect of UConn's front for the past six years and still managed to produce two All-Big East lineman in 2011. DeLeone so far has produced swiss cheese.
If UConn wants to keep Pasqualoni - and AD Warde Manuel has given him some tepid support - the school needs to seriously evaluate where he can take the program. It seems obvious that he was hired as a stop-gap rather than a long-term solution and would be charged with keeping the nascent program competitive enough to establish it as a consistent player in the Big East. It also seems obvious that he has failed to reach that target. That does not mean he cannot get there, but it does mean it is worth asking if it is even worth trying to with a coach that could easily be looking to retire by the time the current freshmen graduate.