Coach coming back for 15th year

Updated: December 6, 2004, 10:55 PM ET
Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor gave head football coach Paul Pasqualoni a vote of confidence Monday night.

Cantor made the decision to retain Pasqualoni for a 15th year after meeting with outgoing athletic director Jake Crouthamel to assess the 2004 season. Syracuse finished 6-5 and will play Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 21 in Orlando.

"I've accepted Jake's recommendation," Cantor said. "Paul knows there's no guarantee, that he must have a plan for Syracuse to restore its football signature. It's not easy for a coach to say he knows there are no guarantees. I hope the community appreciates that."

Pasqualoni is 107-58-1 in 14 seasons at Syracuse and 6-2 in bowl games. But the Orange have struggled to break even the last three years after going 10-3 and finishing 14th in the nation in 2001.

Syracuse was 4-8 in 2002 and 6-6 last year. Since star quarterback Donovan McNabb left for the NFL after the 1998 season, the Orange have played in the postseason only twice and lost regular-season games to Big East weaklings Rutgers and Temple. That prompted many fans to turn in their season tickets.

Attendance for the five home games this season averaged 37,068, about three-quarters of capacity in the 49,000-seat Carrier Dome.

Cantor said that whoever replaces Crouthamel, who has been a staunch supporter of Pasqualoni, will be empowered to evaluate the football program and make decisions.

"The evaluation of this fall's football season was on Jake's watch," said Cantor, who was named chancellor in August. "The future of the football program will be the new AD's responsibility. Paul knows that."

Pasqualoni, who entered the media room in the bowels of the Carrier Dome with a wink and a smile, was understandably relieved that he and his staff were being retained.

"We really appreciate the confidence," he said. "We don't take it for granted. We understand the expectations. That's one of the reasons I came here."

The Orange likely saved Pasqualoni's job by upsetting then-No. 17 Boston College in the season finale, which vaulted Syracuse into a four-way tie for the Big East championship and knocked the Eagles out of a BCS bowl. The win also snapped Syracuse's 10-game losing streak on the road in conference play and came on the heels of the lowest moment in Pasqualoni's tenure, the team's second straight loss at Temple.

"It's a matter of getting it done on the road consistently," said Pasqualoni, whose Orange have gone 9-3 at home the last two seasons. "I love the challenge."

So far, 14 Division I-A head football coaches have either been fired or have resigned and two others have retired. Pasqualoni said he wasn't concerned about the prospect of having to report next year to someone other than Crouthamel, who is in his 27th year on the job.

"When you get into this business, I think you understand there are no guarantees," said Pasqualoni, who was hired as an assistant in 1987 under Dick MacPherson before taking over in 1991. "I chose to be in this profession. I'm not some naive guy. I came here knowing I could be here one year. Eighteen years later, nothing's changed."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press