Like it or not, this Saturday's game in East Hartford between Syracuse and UConn is more about Paul Pasqualoni than anything else. It's the one thing that immediately links these two football programs. Syracuse football flourished in the Big East under P's tutelage, until, of course, it didn't. After his firing from Syracuse on December 29, 2004, P landed a few NFL jobs before eventually returning to the college ranks to coach UConn beginning this season. The Connecticut native, P seems at home at UConn, picking up right where he left off at Syracuse: destroying the program. And what better way to tell his story than through various snapshots of time?
We of course start with the best. In celebrating a double overtime win over Pittsburgh in the Carrier Dome, Coach P and Diamond Ferri share a moment, along with crazy helmet guy who somehow got on the turf and was obviously doing some kind of victory dance. I'm so glad the Post-Standard still had this archived at syracuse.com. I laughed uncontrollably when I first saw this picture some seven or eight years ago, and I still can't stop laughing. Everything about it is great! But, it led to...
Remember facebook groups? Someone I know, who shall remain nameless, created a group before P was fired called "I F***ing Hate Coach F***ing P" and created this picture as the official picture for the group. It's amazing how much a couple red lines in the shape of an X over P's face in MS Paint can just transform a picture. When P was fired, the group name was changed to "I F***ing Hate Coach F***ing P Still" -- and I think the group still exists. It obviously wasn't so much hate for the man as it was hate of him as our coach. I think we all get that, right?
Coach P then landed a good gig in Dallas, as a coach on the Cowboys staff. I believe originally he was coaching the tight ends. Obviously Jason Whitten is so awesome because of P. P has this ability to look like he has no idea what's going on any time a camera is snapped. Or, maybe, Jerry Jones paid him to look this way.
P then joined the Miami Dolphins in 2008 as defensive coordinator. He brought those same talents of intense confusion with him to South Beach. Incidentally, he was on the Dolphins staff when Miami traveled to Toronto to play the Buffalo Bills, a game at which the Syracuse University Marching Band performed. Needless to say, there was some "shooting the breeze" going on, reminiscing about his old Syracuse days. That may or may not have led to his being fired, and being rehired by the Cowboys as defensive coordinator. He then left the team following the 2010 season with head coach Jason Garrett hiring new staff.
Which of course brings us to today, as head coach of the Connecticut Huskies. P is older, maybe wiser, but still not so photogenic. His Huskies whimper along to the beat of their own drum, which always seems to be on the off beat. Maybe eventually he can turn around that program. In fact, I hope he does. Just as long as it's not at the expense of Syracuse.