It’s a zero-sum game, this football business.
One team’s fortune, by rule, has to come at another team’s expense. Someone wins, someone loses.
Taken into the close-knit world of the teams’ coaching staffs, it’s not uncommon to find family members on opposite sidelines and it’s actually extremely common to find close friends on opposing teams. In some cases, you’ll see a veteran head coach matched up against one of his protégés – both battling for the one win that is available.
You’ll find one of those matchups Saturday in the BIG EAST as Temple heads up Interstate 95 to face Connecticut.
The Owls are led by Steve Addazio, a second-year head coach who built an impressive resume as an assistant – most notably as the winner of two BCS National Championships on the staff at Florida. But before he made his name in coaching circles, Addazio served as an apprentice to Paul Pasqualoni – the current Connecticut coach – at two stops. Pasqualoni hired Addazio as his offensive line and recruiting coordinator at Division III Western Connecticut in 1985 and they worked together in Syracuse for four more years.
“Coach P started me in this business,” said Addazio. “He taught me how to be a football coach. He’s by far the most detailed guy I’ve been around. He’s such a tremendous teacher of fundamentals, so as a young coach, I couldn’t have had a better place to start.”
Pasqualoni has won 65 BIG EAST games in his career, more than any other coach in league history. And although Addazio began his tenure in the college ranks more than 25 years ago, he is in just his second year as a head coach. He has coached in one BIG EAST game.
In BIG EAST history, there have been few occasions when a mentor has had to face his pupil. Dave Wannstedt hired Greg Schiano as a defensive assistant when Wannstedt was head coach of the Chicago Bears. They worked together in Chicago from 1996-98. The two would later meet on opposite sidelines when Wannstedt’s Pittsburgh teams faced Schiano’s Rutgers squads from 2005-10.
After his tenure in Chicago, Schiano was the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami in 1999 and 2000, where he worked for coach Butch Davis. Schiano eventually squared off against Davis as a head coach, though it wasn’t until Rutgers faced Davis’s North Carolina teams in 2008, 2010 and2011.
Today, Pasqualoni and Addazio both enjoy the trappings that may come with being head coaches at the major college level. In Danbury, Conn., in 1985, though, things were a little different.
“Oh, I could tell stories,” said Addazio of his time at Western Connecticut. “We basically all slept in the office in those days. We’d be on one side, cutting up 16-millimeter film strips, then you look over and see Coach P with this makeshift wall – if you could even call it a wall – with film strips dangling everywhere. Then we’re back on the other side, going to sleep and you just yell over, ‘Good night, Coach.’ It really was like something out of The Waltons.”
The Spartan conditions tell you something about a coach. If you can work for virtually no money, share a cramped working and living space, and still enjoy success, you develop characteristics that can take you far in a competitive game. Pasqualoni, who himself had paid his dues as an assistant at Southern Connecticut, liked what he saw in Addazio.
“Steven has always been a high-energy, very positive, very motivational, give-everything-you-have coach,” said Pasqualoni, referring to Addazio by his full first name the way a parent would. “There was no question he had the skill set and ability to eventually be a very good head coach.”
After winning a conference title and taking the Colonials to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in school history, Pasqualoni left Western Connecticut in 1987 to become an assistant at Syracuse. Addazio moved on to Cheshire High School in Connecticut, where he won three straight state championships and reeled off a 34-game winning streak.
Pasqualoni took over as head coach at Syracuse in 1991 and reunited with Addazio in 1995, hiring him as an assistant. Armed with significantly more office space in Manley Field House, they worked together for four more seasons and claimed three BIG EAST titles in that stretch.
Addazio left Syracuse in 1999 and spent time on the staffs at Notre Dame and Indiana before beginning his six-year run at Florida. He took over as Temple’s head coach in 2011 and had the best rookie year of any coach in school history, going 9-4 and winning the New Mexico Bowl.
Pasqualoni won four BIG EAST titles and was 6-3 in postseason games at Syracuse before he moved on to the professional ranks. He was with the Dallas Cowboys from 2005-07, spent two years as the defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins, then returned to Dallas to lead the defense in 2010. The Cheshire, Conn., native took over at UConn for the 2011 season.
Saturday’s game will be the first time that Pasqualoni and Addazio have been on opposing sidelines. They’ve remained good friends since their time at Syracuse and always find time to reconnect at coaching conventions or league meetings. But again, with only one team able to get a win this week, don’t expect an outpouring of sentiment from the two veteran coaches.
“It’s more like, ‘Get your team ready to play because this is a big conference game,’” said Pasqualoni. “We can’t get sidetracked with anything else or we’ll be in trouble. (Temple) is playing with really great effort, giving everything they have. You would expect them to be well-coached and well-prepared and they are. I think (Addazio) is doing a heck of a job.”
“Our staff knows that we have to do a tremendous job in preparation,” said Addazio, “because we know that’s what’s going on on the other side. It’s all about getting our team prepared to play as hard as they can possibly play. This game is not about me, and it’s not about Coach P.”