Column: Hasta la later, Paul
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
When UConn walked off the field on Saturday after a 41-12 loss to Buffalo, Warde Manuel stood on the sidelines. Paul Pasqualoni walked past him without getting a second look from the boss.
If the writing on the wall was not visible before, it certainly became clear then.
Pasqualoni had just coached his final game for UConn.
On Monday morning, Manuel made the move fans and taxpayers across Connecticut had been waiting for; Pasqualoni was relieved of his duties as the head football coach of the Huskies.
Pasqualoni has indeed been relieved of his duties, but it may be more accurate to say that UConn fans were relieved of Paul Pasqualoni.
What a difference 28 games can make. It now seems like a lifetime ago that the Huskies were playing in the Fiesta Bowl against an Oklahoma team that barely missed out on a spot in the National Championship Game.
In 28 games, Pasqualoni has taken a BCS-bound team and coached it into the ground.
In 28 games, he turned the UConn football team into a weekly special on Comedy Central.
In 28 games, he lost the faith of the fans, the administration and his players.
The only people that were upset at UConn on Monday were the people who failed their first exam of the semester.
Not even the football players were upset. At 11 a.m., five of them were sitting around a table, laughing and smiling the entire time.
Twitter was abuzz with talk of players celebrating in classes and walking around campus, and former players, some who never played for Pasqualoni, are making their opinions known.
“About damn time,” said Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler, a second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
“Now let’s WIN,” said New York Jets linebacker Danny Lansanah, who played at UConn until 2008.
Robert McClain, now a cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons, started in Sunday night’s game between the Falcons and Patriots on NBC. During NBC’s player introductions, starters will commonly mention the school they played at before they jumped to the NFL.
McClain normally notes that he played at UConn, and his background picture on Twitter is from his UConn days, but on Sunday, the message was loud and clear.
“Robert McClain, Patuxent High School.”
It certainly says a lot when a player who did not even play for the coach that has led the program recently is too embarrassed to mention that he played at UConn.
Watching UConn play football for the past 28 games has not exactly been the most entertaining and hope-inspiring of things.
For 12 years, UConn fans watched Randy Edsall quickly transition the Huskies from a middle of the road FCS program into a bowl-winning, conference title-competing and respectable FBS team that was capable of beating Notre Dame and South Carolina.
It did not take Pasqualoni very long to destroy what had been built.
“But he beat Louisville,” one of the few supporters of Pasqualoni would say.
Yes, a UConn team with a terrible offense that did nothing to reward the nation’s ninth-best defense, made of mainly Randy Edsall’s recruits, went to Louisville last season and beat the eventual Sugar Bowl champions in triple overtime. Teddy Bridgewater also played most of that game injured.
“But he almost beat Michigan,” they will also add.
Yes, UConn almost beat Michigan a couple weeks ago, and it is highly unlikely that Pasqualoni would be gone if the Huskies had knocked off the Wolverines. But as was the case against Towson and Maryland before, UConn was outplayed in the second half.
Getting close is not the same as reaching the goal. A touchdown is not awarded if a player is downed inside the one-yard line.
Manuel picked the right time to fire Pasqualoni. The Huskies are 0-4, and with Central Florida, Cincinnati and Louisville all ahead on the schedule, it is hard to imagine UConn overcoming its worst start since 1991 and reaching a bowl game for the first time in the post-Edsall era. Why not get rid of him now?