Pasqualoni settling in for second Big East run
PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- The Big East annual spring meetings are in the same room, at the same place -- the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club -- as when Paul Pasqualoni was Syracuse's head coach during the first 14 seasons of Big East football.
And after six years in the NFL, Pasqualoni is back in the league as Connecticut's new coach, aware that the rest of the conference's coaching lineup is new since his last time in Ponte Vedra, save for Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
"The people in that room have changed since I was here last," Pasqualoni, 61, said Monday. "There are a lot of great guys in that room. (Coach) Stewart was at West Virginia, and I certainly know a little about all of them. (Syracuse coach) Doug Marrone I know, because he was at Syracuse. (Louisville's) Charlie Strong I know. He did an outstanding job at Florida. I knew (USF coach) Skip (Holtz) pretty good. He was at the University of Connecticut, East Carolina, always did a great job. The other guys (Pitt's Todd Graham, Cincinnati's Butch Jones) I don't know quite as well, but they're all great guys, excellent coaches doing everything they can do to run great programs. It's fun to be in with that level of coaching and the approach and philosophy of the Big East."
Pasqualoni takes over for Randy Edsall, who left the Huskies to be head coach at Maryland in the offseason. He inherits a team that represented the Big East in the Fiesta Bowl, losing 48-20 to Oklahoma, after winning a three-way tie with West Virginia and Pittsburgh atop the league standings. It was just the second time in seven seasons in the Big East that Connecticut has had a winning league record -- the Huskies also tied for first in 2007, sharing a 5-2 mark with West Virginia.
This fall, UConn has the benefit of four Big East home games, including Pasqualoni's reunion with Syracuse on Nov. 5. For now, these meetings are about getting to know his new colleagues better, then preparing for the season ahead.
"It's more about the issues and being together as a conference, talking about things that are important to football and the league," he said.