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What if Syracuse had hired Randy Edsall instead of Paul Pasqualoni?

Plenty of potential reverberations around this one...

Connecticut v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Over on this week, Nate Mink had a two-part series that looked at Randy Edsall’s role in the Orangemen’s football resurgence in the late 1980s, as well as what happened next.

As Mink discusses, Paul Pasqualoni, George DeLeone and Edsall were all considered to succeed Dick MacPherson as Syracuse’s head football coach after the 1990 season. Pasqualoni would end up getting the job, and DeLeone stayed on. But Edsall departed the program, on a road that would eventually lead him to UConn in 1999.

But what if Edsall had been hired instead of Coach P? Well... there are quite a few outcomes there, many of which are steeped in conjecture. We try our hand at them below anyway:

Pasqualoni sticks around as defensive coordinator... for a bit

On the positive end, this could have been a great outcome for SU. At the time, Coach P’s only college coaching experience included five years at West Connecticut State and his time at Syracuse. Sure, Edsall was younger (33 when the decision was made), but one could see a scenario in which Pasqualoni stayed on for at least a couple years and helped fortify things on the defensive side of the ball.

Donovan McNabb #5

George DeLeone departs

Mink’s piece cites the intense work culture pushed by Coach P and DeLeone as something that didn’t appeal to Edsall. While Pasqualoni may have been able to adapt to the Edsall’s style, DeLeone probably wouldn’t have. That means a completely different Orangemen offense in the 1990s, and potentially no freeze option. That could’ve also meant no Donovan McNabb, too (DeLeone was his primary recruiter). Obviously DeLeone’s offenses were far from perfect at times... but the outcome of losing McNabb’s not necessarily a palatable one, even if we wouldn’t know what we’d lost in this alternate timeline.

Edsall finds success — just less of it

Those 1990s Syracuse teams were full of pro talent beyond just McNabb, so it’s conceivable that they’d still have won games without him. However, McNabb was part of the draw for late 1990s recruiting efforts. You’d have to think that some of the best players from that era never make it to campus without McNabb and the wins he helped provide.

Pasqualoni eventually leaves for Connecticut

In our timeline, Edsall bounces around for almost a decade working with former Syracuse associates before winning the UConn job as the program was about to make the leap to what was then Division I-A (now FBS). But given P’s ties to the state — and the fact that he’d eventually take the job over after Edsall — one could see how he’d have been a top choice for the Huskies back then.

Edsall’s fired before the downturn

Without the McNabb years to buoy him as Coach P had, it’s easier for Syracuse to make a move on a new head coach before all of the warning signs things were about to get bad. An alternate reality sees Edsall canned after 1999, and Syracuse searching for a new coach for the new century. Without the same impetus to “keep it in the family” as the 1991 hire, perhaps the Orangemen look at what would’ve been impressive options at the time like Gary Patterson (hired by TCU in 2000) or Urban Meyer (hired by Bowling Green in 2001). Or maybe Steve Addazio gets his shot earlier than in real life, if they did opt to stay within the staff (assuming he’s still at SU). If they wait ‘til the 2002 offseason, maybe Tom Coughlin’s around after leaving the Jaguars. The SU alum wouldn’t take over the Giants until the 2004 season.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Connecticut v Oklahoma Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

UConn never “leaps” in the same way

UConn’s arrival at the FBS level saw early success and near-immediate contention atop the depleted Big East of the day. Edsall had been instrumental in building something and kept the momentum going despite the step up in competition. With Pasqualoni, perhaps they get that initial burst, but the Huskies probably burn out in a similar timeframe to when Syracuse did. That means UConn’s struggles hit right as they join the league. And without a downtrodden SU to pad the win total (No GERG in this scenario!), UConn ends up middling at best. No Fiesta Bowl here.

Syracuse probably ends up in a similar place today

On the one hand, avoiding GERG is great. But potentially losing the McNabb years puts a much larger gap between the “glory days” and now for Syracuse. Depending on who they hire, the early 2000s could have conceivably gone better than they actually did. However, a .500ish team still ends up in the same spot. Maybe we never hire Doug Marrone because things don’t look as desperate. Maybe Dino Babers never arrives either because there’s no Scott Shafer era cratering to rescue the program from. Tough to tell once you butterfly-effect things out this far.


But what do you think? Would Edsall have been a better selection than Pasqualoni in the short- and/or long-term? Would Syracuse be in a better place now, even if Edsall had moved on? Share your own multiverse theories below.