Pasqualoni Returning to Connecticut Roots

Pasqualoni Returning to Connecticut Roots

Pasqualoni, 61, beat out Mark Whipple, the former coach at New Haven, Brown and UMass. Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee were also candidates.

"A great hire," said Cheshire High coach Mark Ecke, who played for Pasqualoni at Western Connecticut in 1986-88.

It's a return to the college ranks — and the Big East — for Pasqualoni, who spent this season as defensive line coach and then interim defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. He has been a collegiate head coach for 19 seasons, most notably a 14-year stay at Syracuse, 1991-2004.

Perhaps more important, Pasqualoni has significant ties to the state. After graduating from Penn State in 1972, Pasqualoni was an assistant coach at Cheshire High for four years.

He then served as an assistant at Southern Connecticut in 1976-81 before moving to Division III Western, where he was the head coach for five seasons.

Those ties were significant to the hiring process. The Connecticut High School Coaches' Association, spurred on by Hand coach Steve Filippone and New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli, sent an open letter to UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway late last week, urging him to give Pasqualoni serious consideration.

"I thought it was a great idea," said Ecke, who closely monitored the coaching search. "I didn't know he would be that interested. He loved Dallas, but he's coming home. He's one of ours."

The disconnect between Edsall and the state's high school coaches was difficult to overcome during his stay in Storrs. Several of the state's top players routinely considered, and attended, schools outside of the state, with Boston College, Florida, Iowa and Syracuse heavily recruiting the state.

While at Syracuse, Pasqualoni recruited Dwight Freeney out of Bloomfield and Kyle and Ian McIntosh from Cheshire — among Connecticut's best high school players in the 1990s.

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