SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Nearly eight years after Syracuse fired him, Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni returns to the Carrier Dome as the enemy on Friday night when he leads his Huskies against the Orange.
But who has time for reunion talk? Both teams simply need a 'W.'
UConn (3-4, 0-2 Big East) desperately needs a conference victory and a loss for Syracuse (2-4, 1-1) would make reaching a bowl game a daunting task. The Orange would have to win four of its last five games, which include Louisville at home and Cincinnati and Missouri on the road.
Both teams are coming off tough losses. Temple spoiled UConn's homecoming last week with a 17-14 overtime win thanks to four missed field goals by Huskies kicker Chad Christen. Syracuse was victimized by four turnovers and a crucial blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown in a 23-15 setback at nationally ranked Rutgers.
So, to no one's surprise, Pasqualoni's emotions and the hype surrounding the reunion are the furthest thing from his mind these days.
"To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about it a great deal," said Pasqualoni, who won 107 games in 14 years at Syracuse but had more than his fair share of critics in his final seasons with the Orange, "other than it's a big game in our conference and it's a big game for us."
The Orange have only been to one bowl under coach Doug Marrone.
"Winning this game would make us 2-1 (in the Big East), which is huge," said Orange center Macky MacPherson, whose grandfather, Dick, coached the Orange in the 1980s and hired Pasqualoni as an assistant in 1987. "(Pasqualoni on the other sideline) is not something I'm thinking about. It's not something I'm focused on. I'm focused on doing my job to the best of my ability.
"Come after the game, I'll go over and say hi, win, lose, or draw. But right now, I'm focused on winning the game, and I'm sure that's what Coach P. would tell you."