The ADB Mailbag: Diaco vs. Pasqualoni

Hello. This is a mailbag. Today we’ll tackle the issue of bad coaches, possibly bad coaches, fictional presidents and… Antwoine Anderson.

Remember: If your question wasn’t answered or you’ve been living under a rock and are just hearing about this, you can submit your questions here or on Twitter (@ADimeBack).

Elaine asks: was [Pasqualoni] worse than Diaco?

The answer depends on what specifically you’re measuring.

Pasqualoni was the coach of UConn’s only loss to an FCS team, his clock/timeout management was consistently horrific, he lost a bunch of winnable games. He stayed loyal to George DeLeone, who almost singlehandedly ended UConn’s string of excellent running attacks throughout the 2000s; the program has been an atrocious running team ever since. UConn absolutely had the talent to win 7 or 8 games and make a bowl in both 2011 and 2012, and Pasqualoni is mostly responsible for that. The ultimate collapse of the program in 2013, and the resulting piles of rubble Randy Edsall will have to spend the next two years cleaning up, is completely on him, too.

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To Diaco’s credit, he did make one (1) bowl game, and almost exactly one year ago you’d be crazy for thinking that this would even be close. But then you look at Diaco’s recruiting, which was absolutely abysmal — UConn’s top players are mostly seniors by Pasqualoni like Foley Fatukasi, Arkeel Newsome, Junior Joseph, Luke Carrezola; while Diaco did recruit several of UConn’s better players (including Bryant Shirreffs), he also annually brought in roughly 15 nameless guys built like tight ends to play [position TBD]. UConn will be feeling the pain of those bad recruiting years for a while. Then you look at Diaco’s ridiculous behavior with the media, which was charming and funny at first, and then got really aggravating and embarrassing. And then you go back three years and remember that he had a press conference where he named a depth chart of “Key starters,” “Starters,” “Key backups” and “Backups”. That was weird.

Ultimately, if you’re talking about comparing the two as only head coaches/program CEOs, I think Pasqualoni is better by a mile. He was bad, but in a more conventional bad-football-coach way. Diaco was a living funhouse mirror.

However, I don’t think it’s arguable that Pasqualoni (or more specifically, UConn’s hiring of Pasqualoni) hurt the program and athletic department far more than Diaco did. Pasqualoni was an uninspiring “safe” choice for a program that wanted to succeed at football without spending the money. And then all the Big East schools that spent money on their football programs were invited to the ACC. So, yeah.

— Kevin Meacham

Ben asks: Is [Antwoine Anderson] going to average more than 15 minutes per game? He impressed me this week.

For better or worse, the answer is probably yes. He played 14 against Merrimack and 29 (!!) against Providence. In 2015, Sam Cassell, Jr. played 15.1 minutes-per-game and that might be the best comparison for Anderson’s current role as the team’s fourth guard (2015 had Boatright, Purvis, Samuel and Cassell). Alterique Gilbert is still working his way back from injury. Jalen Adams needs some rest. And Christian Vital seems likely to see starter’s minutes as either the third guard in the starting lineup or the first guy off the bench. There will be plenty of minutes available for Anderson.

The jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or not. Our first glimpse at Anderson in a UConn uniform revealed some positives — he’s athletic, he seems invested in playing tough defense and he had seven assists in two games — but he was also outplayed by former UConn-commit Makai Ashton-Langford in the Providence game and his recent numbers at Fordham aren’t exactly inspiring.

In the end, if UConn is depending on Anderson to be much of a contributor on offense, the team is likely in some pretty deep trouble. But there are enough other ways that he can contribute that he can be a valuable member of the rotation.

— Tyler Wilkinson

Don asks: Top 10 POTUS’ portrayed in movies/TV series…

1. (Tie) Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen, The West Wing) and Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas, The American President) Both are creations of Aaron Sorkin, both are liberal icons, both are people we wish were actually president right now. Idealistic, moral, upstanding, and complete with great dialogue.

2. Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Independence Day) He flew planes, he killed aliens, he gave a rousing call-to-battle speech. I’m here for it.

3. James Marshall (Harrison Ford, Air Force One) He punched terrorists and made the line, “Get off my plane!” actually work, somehow. Also, Harrison Ford is, and always will be, a delight.

4. MacKenzie Allen (Geena Davis, Commander in Chief) Honestly, do you need more than “Geena Davis”?

5. Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman, Deep Impact) Morgan Freeman has the gravitas to make you believe he could really be the president. If we were actually facing a crisis like the one in this movie that isn’t Armageddon but sounds an awful lot like Armageddon, then I would like to hear the soothing timbre of Morgan Freeman’s voice over the alternative times a million.

Honorable Mention: Dave Kovic/Fake Bill Mitchell (Kevin Kline, Dave) Technically, when Dave was acting as president, he was not actually the president. Bill Mitchell, who was a nightmare conservative was. But Dave as the Fake Bill Mitchell was a hell of a president, so he makes the list.

— Meghan Bard

Jon asks: What needs to happen this season for Ollie to get fired and what is the likelihood of that happening?

A few scenarios:

  1. Ollie (or his staff) gets ensnared in the FBI investigation focused on (reaches for fainting couch) players get paid for their labor (through shady deals with shoe companies). We talked on a recent podcast about why we see this as unlikely, but we’re also pretty dumb, so.  Likelihood: 5%
  2. The team is really really bad. Another under-.500 season without the cloak of The Narrative would probably be enough to take Ollie down.  Likelihood: 16%
  3. UConn hires Russ. It’s possible that UConn will be desperate enough after the season to take a big risk and hire our own Russ Steinberg. It would be a bold move. Likelihood: 45%

In all seriousness, UConn would have to really be sure it was getting a significant upgrade to dump Ollie. Unless he’s fired for cause (hello again, FBI), the school would continue to owe him money, and still need to find the cash to hire a coach who is, you know, better. At this point, UConn isn’t a big enough draw to pull in a coach with much of a proven track record (nor do they have the money it might require to land one) and I don’t think they’d roll the dice on a replacement unless Ollie has really bottomed out the team (i.e. Pulled a Diaco).

In other words, he’s likely not going anywhere.

— Tyler again