Pasqualoni will change focus to offense

12/12/2003 - Syracuse Orangemen

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse athletics director Jake Crouthamel said Friday that football coach Paul Pasqualoni will keep his job, and that no assistant coaches will be dismissed.

"Change is necessary, yes, but not wholesale change. [It's] more along the lines of adjustments to the way we do things," Crouthamel said in a news conference. "We don't need to lay a new foundation. We already have a solid foundation and a strong football tradition from which to draw."

While a source told ESPN.com Thursday night that Crouthamel would retain Pasqualoni, the source had said it was uncertain whether Pasqualoni would be able to keep his staff intact.

Crouthamel said the most significant adjustment will be that Pasqualoni will be responsible for making game-day decisions on offense. During the past two years Pasqualoni has focused on defense.

Pasqualoni, who had been out recruiting all this week, attended the news conference. When it was announced that he would remain as coach, staff and players in attendance applauded.

"We are determined here to examine every aspect of our program
and improve," Pasqualoni said.

Syracuse barely avoided its second straight losing season by
defeating a weak Notre Dame team 38-12 in its last game of the
season on Dec. 6. The win left Syracuse at 6-6, but tied for next
to last in the Big East at 2-5 and without a bowl bid for the third
time in four seasons.

In 13 years as the school's 26th head coach, Pasqualoni, 54, a
1972 graduate of Penn State, has posted an overall record of
101-53-1, including a 58-31 conference record. He is 6-2 in
bowl games. His 100 wins rank second all-time at Syracuse, behind
only Ben Schwartzwalder's 153.

Friday's move came a little over a year after Crouthamel gave
Pasqualoni a first public vote of confidence. Crouthamel called the
team's 4-8 record in 2002, its first losing season since 1986, an

In doing so, Crouthamel also spelled out his expectations for
the football team. Those expectations included: finishing at least
in the top three in the Big East Conference and among the Top 25
teams nationally; frequent bowl participation, including the BCS;
and a high graduation rate.

When former star quarterback Donovan McNabb was leading the way,
Syracuse finished ranked four straight years, played in four bowl
games, and won or shared the Big East title three straight years.

Since McNabb graduated in 1998, the Orangemen have finished with
losing records in the league three times and played in only two
bowl games.

Syracuse also is 17-18 in the Big East since the McNabb era
ended and has been embarrassed 62-0 and 51-7 by Virginia Tech, and 59-0
and 49-7 by Miami. Syracuse is the only team to lose twice to
Rutgers and lost to Temple last year, which snapped a 16-game
winning streak over the Owls.

The losses have led to a decrease in fan interest. Attendance in
the Carrier Dome, which seats 49,262, dropped from an average of
47,898 in 1998 to 43,572 last season and to 41,167 this season. But
the university bases its attendance figures on tickets sold not on
the turnstile count, and the actual number of fans coming to games
has declined even more dramatically.

This season, Syracuse played Notre Dame for the first time in 40
years, and tickets were still available the week of the game, the
season finale.

Despite the tireless work ethic of Pasqualoni and his staff,
Syracuse also has been unable to recruit many blue-chip players,
especially at quarterback, since McNabb left.

If not for the emergence of defensive end Dwight Freeney in
2001, Pasqualoni's job might have been in jeopardy sooner. With
Freeney wreaking havoc on offenses, the Orangemen went 10-3 overall
and 6-1 in the Big East, beat Kansas State in the Insight.com Bowl,
and finished ranked No. 14.

Although Pasqualoni did guide the Orangemen to big victories
over Florida, Colorado, Ohio State and Wisconsin and was 10-2 in
each of his first two seasons (1991-92), perhaps his greatest
success has come in the classroom. During his tenure, Syracuse has
consistently ranked among the nation's leaders in graduation rates,
reaching the pinnacle in 2000 with 100 percent.

In 18 seasons as a head coach, which include five years at
Division III Western Connecticut, Pasqualoni is 135-70-1, a .668
winning percentage. He joined the Syracuse staff as an assistant in
1987 under Dick MacPherson.

Pasqualoni's staff includes associate head coach/offensive
coordinator George DeLeone, defensive coordinator Chris Rippon, and
assistants Jerry Azzinaro (defensive line), Steve Bush
(quarterbacks), Steve Dunlap (linebackers), Dennis Goldman (wide
receivers), David Walker (running backs), Chris White (tight ends
and special teams), and R. Todd Littlejohn (cornerbacks).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.