Jan. 14, 2011
President Philip E. Austin
"I want to thank everyone for coming out here today. This is a wonderful day for the University at large, but particularly for our intercollegiate athletics program. We've had a wonderful past decade in the movement from Division I AA, culminating with a BCS appearance this past year. I'm delighted that under the leadership of Jeff Hathaway, a search committee, along with Jeff, have brought to the board and to me an absolutely superb new head coach. Coach Pasqualoni was at Syracuse when I arrived here in 1996. I was quite aware from a distance the enormous success he brought to Syracuse. People who know a lot more about football than I, in coaching and recruiting and motivating young men, have every confidence that this will cause us not to lose a step but to continue to develop success and academic integrity as football becomes as important in our intercollegiate range of programs as our wonderful basketball, soccer and many women's sports have been. It's with enormous enthusiasm that I welcome you here today. I'm particularly pleased that our permanent president Dr. Susan Herbst has shown her support for the program by flying out from Atlanta this morning to attend this function. Coach, welcome. It's wonderful to have you and thank you all for being here."
Athletics Director Jeffrey Hathaway
"Welcome on this very special day at the University of Connecticut as we announce our next football head coach. I've had tremendous support throughout this entire process and want to extend my gratitude to a number of people. To our Chairman of the Board of Trustees Larry McHugh and to the members of the board of trustees who are here with us today and to those who couldn't make it, my sincere gratitude for your support. To Interim President Phillip Austin who brought me here years ago, thank you Phil for your continued support as well. We are all thrilled, as President Austin said, to have President-Elect Susan Herbst with us today and I too appreciate you getting on a plane this morning and getting on a plane this evening to head home to show your support for Paul and for this University as a whole. Our University Advisory Committee chaired by Scott Brown, staffed by other distinguished members of our university community - that group lent valuable insights on university related matters to our football program and to Paul throughout this process. I especially want to thank Interim Head Coach Hank Hughes for what he's done the past few weeks to keep the program on a steady course. He's done it for the past 10 years and for the past two weeks, he kept the program going and I'm indebted to Hank. And to our entire coaching staff, who I hold in the highest regard, I appreciate their entire body of work during their time here. Most importantly, I want to thank our student-athletes and our football student-athletes for their faith and their confidence that the University would go out, seek out, recruit and secure the very best person to lead this football program."
"I've been asked two questions on a number of occasions through Mike (Mike Enright - Associate Director of Athletics/Communications) that I haven't been able to answer until now. Our focus throughout this search was with coaches that had 1-A and or NFL experience. While I have tremendous respect for so many current FCS head coaches, none were part of this particular search. Following our outstanding interviews with every candidate that we met with, the only person that we had follow up conversations with was Paul. It's a true pleasure for me today to announce Coach Paul Pasqualoni as our new Head Football Coach."
"A Connecticut native, born and raised in Cheshire. He went to Cheshire High School. He started his college coaching career at Southern Connecticut and then went on to Western Connecticut. As a head coach and as an assistant, he's been part of 13 Bowl teams, nine as a head coach in the BIG EAST. His 14 years as a BIG EAST coach are more than any other head coach in BIG EAST history. He's coached more BIG EAST games than any other head coach and he's won four BIG EAST Championships, including his last year at Syracuse, and no one else has won more. Seventeen NFL selections picked in the first-three rounds, he's furthered his own coaching experience with six years in the NFL, most recently as the defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys. As a head coach at Syracuse, his teams were honored for academic achievement 10 times by the American Football Coaches Association for having a graduation rate of 70-percent or better and we too have enjoyed some of those honors from the AFCA at the University of Connecticut. Finally, he has extensive and strong relationships with so many high school coaches across the country and particularly in the recruiting areas that have been vital to UConn's success over the years as well as other areas that may be beneficial for our success in the future."
"I particularly want to thank the Connecticut High School Football Coaches Association for their endorsement of Paul Pasqualoni. In addition to Connecticut, the New Jersey and New York Football Coaches Association sent along very strong messages to me and to the University with the respect that they have for Paul Pasqualoni. I've been flooded today with e-mails, text messages from former student-athletes in our football program, former coaches, members of the University Community past and present, NFL executives, conference officials throughout the country and many people who have crossed paths with Paul in his career. I got a very nice call today from Calvin Hill where he mentioned that over the past decade he's worked with the Dallas Cowboys, he sent the message that he's a sensational coach but even a better man. The University of Connecticut is excited about our journey with this football program over the past decade and even more excited about the future of UConn football. Our exciting and extraordinary journey that we've all traveled with this incredible football program, up until two weeks ago when we went to our first BCS Bowl, has been a wonderful one. I know that is only going to continue under Paul's leadership. Paul, we look very forward to welcoming your wife Jill and your sons Dante, Tito and the love of your life Cami to this wonderful community. At this time, I would like to ask everyone here to join me in welcoming UConn Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni."
Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
"I want to thank the entire UConn community, especially President Austin and President Herbst on this wonderful opportunity. I want to thank Larry McHugh and the Board of Trusties and Jeff Hathaway who has been so diligent in this process of finding the next football coach at this outstanding institution. This is very, very exciting. My family and I are excited to be here, and I have so many people that I am thankful for. Jeff (Hathaway) mentioned the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, many of whom are here today. I started my career as a 9th grade coach at Cheshire High School in 1972. I felt at that point that I had the best coaching job in America. I want to let the association know that this facility and UConn Football is here for them. Their promotion of football in the state of Connecticut has elevated the level of football here to unprecedented heights.
I look forward to being a part of UConn football on every level, and the promotion of our program throughout the Northeast. People tend to forget that football started in the Northeast. I'm so excited to have this opportunity to have a chance to continue that tradition. I'm excited about this challenge, to continue the development the program here at the University of Connecticut, at this competitive level of football. I'm excited and passionate to work with the young men academically. We're going to work very hard to give attention to the student athlete. We're very proud of the students here--their commitment to the classroom has us really looking forward to working with them.
One of the great examples is a young man by the name of Tebucky Jones. He's here today and he is a great example of Connecticut high school football, commitment in the classroom, commitment to excellence in football, and commitment to his university and community. That's the blueprint we'll follow.
This is the flagship institution and athletic program in the state of Connecticut. What Jim (Calhoun) and Geno (Auriemma) have accomplished here with basketball is unprecedented, and our mission is to develop the football program in that direction. It's a great challenge--to continue the academic success of the program, to play exciting football, to win games--there is a balance that has to go on there, and it is challenging to accomplish.
The BIG EAST has just added TCU into our conference. It is an outstanding program not too far from where I live in Texas, so I'm very familiar. We're really looking forward to the challenge and I have a world of respect for the BIG EAST conference. I'm really looking forward to being a part of this."
"You have been away from college football for a while. What do you need to do to get back on track and get this team back on track?"
"The first thing I have to do is pass my certification of recruitment test which I'll do as soon as I can. My plate is full here. My first concern is staff and putting together the best possible staff. I'm concerned about the student athletes who come back to campus on Sunday. We're going to have a team meeting so I can reassure them of our commitment and what direction we're going in--full speed ahead Monday morning and moving as quickly as we can. I have a lot of respect for the staff that is here as they have done a lot with this program. You can take great pride with what they've done with this program in such a short time. Hank Hughes and the staff have done such a great job. I had time to meet with the staff for a couple of hours this morning and they've done a fabulous job of recruiting so far, and I'm looking forward to meeting our prospects. We have a lot on our plate but we'll move as fast as we can."
"What is your philosophy offensively and defensively?"
"Offensively, the goal will be achieving balance. We want to run the ball, but we want to throw the ball as well. We'll throw the ball for explosive gains on first and second down, and on third down we want to be productive, which is a very big commitment. The other area that we need to be outstanding in is the red zone. The percentage of scores and touchdowns in the red zone is a huge factor when determining who wins and loses at this level of football. Obviously the turnovers are a big battle, and we're going to work very hard on the turnover issue on defense. One of the great players from the state of Connecticut was a guy named Dwight Freeney from Bloomfield High School. He came to Syracuse and had this knack to get after the ball. He had the fastest hands I'd ever been around. I realized from being around Dwight that it's like wildfire. Once the team sees and realizes the impact it can have, it can permeate throughout the team. We're going to coach the turnover and taking care of the ball on defense. We're going to work hard on the explosive play, which goes for 16 yards or more. We're going to work on the red zone. The score is the most important statistic, but if you play the percentages we're going to take care of those things."
"From the time you left Syracuse until now, has there been other opportunities to go back to coaching college football?"
"There were some other opportunities, but my idea is that it has to be the right fit. The fact that I had been a high school coach, had coached in the Northeast for 18 years, have some strong ties here, and have confidence that we can recruit within a five hour driving radius of here gave me the complete package. At the end of the day, we can talk all we want about football, but it is about players more than it is about plays. We have to go back to what Randy (Edsall) had established."
"What makes you the right guy for this job?"
"When I got into this business, I got into it to be a teacher. I started off at an elementary school teacher. Then I was a high school teacher and junior varsity coach. My passion has always been to develop, so that makes me a good guy for college football. That probably rubbed off on me very early in my career at Penn State from coach (Joe) Paterno. I really enjoyed tremendously my experience in the National Football League--I had some great opportunities and been around some great people. I've been fortunate in my years in the NFL as I got to coach some great players, so I really enjoyed that experience, but the passion in my heart is working on the academic thing, seeing kids graduate-- not just going to the NFL--but going out in life from a great institution, and seeing these kids go out know what to do. My wife, my kids, and I are so excited to be here and have this opportunity."
"Have you discussed the academic standards during the interview process and are you confident you can bring in the right student athletes?"
"It was discussed in detail; I had a wonderful conversation with admissions. I feel very confident that I can recruit with these guidelines. I've been through this at Syracuse, where I was a single guy on the staff so I was in charge of study hall every night, so I have a really good idea of what this is going to take."
"Could you take us back to your days on the farm in Cheshire, CT, and how it translates into your work ethic?"
"I grew up on East Johnson Avenue in Cheshire. My dad, my uncle, and my cousin attended this wonderful institution and couldn't be more proud of the Huskies, I guarantee you that. I don't know how many people know this, but Cheshire is the Bedding Plant Capitol of the Northeast. There are more greenhouses anywhere else in the Northeast. My dad said his children could play all the sports they wanted to play, but if they were home they were in that greenhouse. So I played sports. I had a wonderful childhood with my family there, but my summers were on the farm. The first thing we did every day was pick corn. I remember driving the truck to deliver, and it gave me a tremendous sense of what it took."
"Can you talk about reestablishing relationships with High School coaches in Connecticut?"
"I would say it's more along the lines of continuing relationships. The thing I love about coaches is they love to talk about football. Our door is open, they know that, and they know we'll be at their schools. They know they're welcome to what we have here and our doors are open."
"Can you talk about other recruiting ties you have outside of Connecticut?"
"We've always recruited the state of Florida very hard, so we have outstanding ties in Florida as well. We're going to be in those areas very strong and competitively. We're not opposed to anywhere; we'll recruit where there are players. We'll be recruiting in Texas. We've had success in Canada, so we'll be in Canada as well. We've had outstanding success in Pennsylvania so we'll be in those areas. We're very familiar with the Washington D.C., Maryland, northern Virginia area, so we'll be in those areas competitively as well. Often times the foundation of your program is in your own state, so we'll recruit every possible player in our state. We'll also go out and find the best football players we can who can live up to the academic expectations we have here."
"What is the key to maintaining the level that UConn football is at right now?"
"Fortunately the timing of this is excellent, as the semester starts in a couple of days. I can reassure exactly what direction we're going in. This transition is going to be as smooth as possible. I changed teams after eight games in the NFL this year, and the key to it is positive reinforcement of where you're going and how you're going to get there. There's absolutely no reason for us to slow down or take a step backwards."
"Do you have people in line to work on your staff?"
"During this process I assured Jeff Hathaway that I would sit down with every member of this staff. I have a high regard for the coaches here; they've done an outstanding job. The first step will be to interview those coaches, and then we'll move on and talk to other guys. I know there are a lot of coaches out there that would be very excited to come to the University of Connecticut. This is a process we're going to work our way through as quickly as we can. The goal is to have the best absolute fit that we can, and we'll do it as quickly as we can. It's more important to get it done right than to get it done quickly."
"Will your age (61) play a factor in any way to your job?"
"This is a young man's game. I feel young. I think you are as old as you feel. My passion for football and energy are better today than ten years ago. I think age could play a factor, but right now I feel great."
"The BIG EAST has changed a lot since you left Syracuse. What do you think about it now and where do you think it is headed?"
"I think the BIG EAST has some outstanding programs with great tradition. West Virginia and Pittsburgh come to mind as programs with tradition. Football started with a Rutgers game. UConn has come so far in such a short time. The track record of the players from this program is very impressive. I think the BIG EAST has some overall outstanding programs. There are some young programs such as South Florida and UConn, but they are growing and developing every day. I think we have consistency in this league that can compete with any conference in America. At Syracuse we competed at a high level against the Tennessee's, Michigan's, and Oklahoma's in this world. With the addition of TCU, the BIG EAST will be very impressive."
"Have you been in touch with Randy Edsall at all?"
"I have not formally gotten on the phone with him, but I have a lot of respect for Randy. He's an outstanding coach who's done an outstanding job here."