Paul Pasqualoni is back home at UConn
Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni is finally back home.
He was born and raised in the state, in Cheshire, played for Joe Paterno at Penn State, then spent 29 years as a coach at Southern Connecticut, Western Connecticut and Syracuse. After getting fired at Syracuse in 2004, Pasqualoni found himself looking for a new adventure.
A self-described "fairly intense football guy," Pasqualoni opted for a geographic -- and cultural -- shock, taking a job as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys. He moved his family to the football mecca of Southlake, Texas, a Pleasantville-like suburb of Dallas and home to the powerhouse Southlake Carroll Dragons.
Pasqualoni joked that he told his wife not to get used to the area, because it wasn't "the real world." He marveled at the community involvement in the high school's football program, noting his children got morning announcements at school in the form of something called "Dragon News."
"On Fridays, even as kindergartners and first-graders they wear their green Southlake Dragons shirt to school. Then at homecoming, they were out on the field, small as they were," he said. "The culture of what they do I think, all over Texas, is the promotion of high school football. Southlake is a town of 24,000. How many are in the stadium? 20,000-22,000? So it was a lot of fun."
Now, back in the "real world" of his native Connecticut, Pasqualoni passed out restaurant tips on a recent visit to ESPN (he's a big fan of Sally's Apizza in New Haven) and talks about how the UConn job is a dream for him.
But even as comfortable as he is geographically, he's adjusting to a seismic shift in the recruiting landscape from when he was last a head coach.
"Emailing, when I left, was just kind of coming in. Texting was nonexistent, Facebook was not there at all," he said. "So I think the intensity of it, just the process of it, the exposure of it, it's just a really intense environment."
But he has found the technology to be useful, too.
"One of the biggest differences is YouTube. You wanna see a five-minute highlight on someone? Just type his name into YouTube," Pasqualoni said. "That was virtually nonexistent when I left in 2004."
So do college coaches actually use it to look around and find hidden prospects?
"I don't nose around. I wish I had time to nose around. I have a list of prospects every day that I'm trying to evaluate," he said. "If I don't have a DVD on that player, usually on the evaluation, it says 'Go to YouTube.' So you go to YouTube, and you get a brief picture of him, just to see what you're dealing with."
Many recruits have some pretty aggressive soundtracks to their highlight clips. The coach says he's found a way to deal with that, too.
"I turn the volume off," he said. "That's the way I handle it."
Pasqualoni, who had success recruiting Connecticut players when he was at Syracuse, says the state will still be a huge priority.
"We recruited the state of Connecticut very well," he said, smiling, "and will continue to do that."
But, he said, he recruited some areas of Texas with some success in the past, and hopes his new Texas connections might pay some dividends too.
"My son's got a couple of buddies coming from Southlake to UConn football camp," he said. "Wear a couple of those T-shirts around town, and you never know, in the years to come ... "
Dave Wilson is an editor for Page 2.