Sports Commentary 10/1/13
The Coaching Change was necessary at UConn Yestereday
RIGHT MOVE, RIGHT TIME
In the final analysis UCONN athletic director Warde Manuel had no choice. The clock is ticking and time is not on UCONN’s side. Yesterday Manuel announced he had relieved head football coach Paul Pasqualoni and associate head coach George DeLeone of their duties following an 0-4 start to this season that included embarrassing losses to Towson and Buffalo, in the wake of back to back losing seasons. Saying, “I have full faith in him to lead this program the next six to eight weeks”, Manuel named offensive coordinator T.J. Weist to the head coaching position for the remainder of the season, on an interim basis, though he made it clear Weist is a candidate for the permanent job. The search for a successor to Pasqualoni will be ongoing, but Manuel also made it clear, “It will not be resolved in the next eight or nine weeks. Now is not the time to be talking to people on other staffs”, any discussions with such candidates will have to wait until after the season. While he admitted the process was accelerated after Saturday’s loss to Buffalo, and he was angry about that loss, Manuel said it was not an emotional decision, that it came after more than a year and a half of evaluation of the overall program. The timing of the move is certain to have major implications on the long term future of UCONN athletics, but Manuel said “It’s important people understand we aren’t giving up, we aren’t throwing in the towel on this season.” He also acknowleged the importance of football in the changing landscape of college athletics, saying, “Football is important in the equation, as you can see from the transitions that have been made.” The transitions are far from over and recent developments, comments from the power five conferences, the ACC, Big Ten, Pac Ten, SEC and Big 12, about establishing a separate division within the NCAA or possibly splitting from the NCAA, and an affirmation against paying athletes by NCAA president Mark Emmert, may accelerate the next move, with perhaps as few as a half dozen openings for UCONN to be part of the final configuration. To be left out of the power conference expansion at this point would be disastrous. Still, Manuel said it was not part of the consideration of his latest move. “Whether conference realignment was on deck or not, as it has been in the last couple of years”, he said, “I want to win, our fans want to win, our team wants to win. This is not being done for conference realignment, this is being done because the time for a change is now to try to transition to win this season. Never in my conversation with President (UCONN president Susan) Herbst did we go, ‘We need to do this for conference realignment purposes.’ We don’t think that way here at UCONN. We want success, we want to be exceptional in everything we do and anything short of that, we’ll do what’s necessary to make change when necessary.” All that said. whether it was on his mind or not, Warde Manuel had only one impact move left that would serve notice to the power conferences in the NCAA that UCONN is serious about football and deserves to belong to one of them. Yesterday he made it. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.