After beginning his UConn tenure with consecutive 5-7 records, coach Paul Pasqualoni faces a pivotal season. The Huskies are moving into a new conference and have an opportunity to add some victories and perhaps return to a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
But for a large segment of the fan base, Pasqualoni’s seat is warm and heating up as the season approaches. He’s not the first coach to face high expectations and a high level of pressure early in his run. Some prominent coaches stumbled — many with far less success than Pasqualoni — out of the gate. Some survived and eventually thrived; others lost their job after just a few seasons. Pasqualoni is in the company of some familiar names as he embarks on Year 3 at UConn. Here are 20 coaches who faced uncertainty early in their tenures — 10 kept the job, 10 didn’t:
Ten Who Survived
Mack Brown: A decade before becoming coach at Texas, Brown took over at North Carolina after going 11-23 in three seasons at Tulane. He was 1-10 in 1988 and 1-10 in 1989, but he kept his job and went 67-26-1 over the next eight seasons before he became Texas coach in 1998.
Frank Beamer: Hired by Virginia Tech after five seasons at Murray State, Beamer was 5-17 in his first two seasons with the Hokies. He turned it around with a 6-4-1 season in 1989, and he’s now the longest-tenured coach (26 seasons) and the winningest active coach (258 wins) in the FBS.
Bill Snyder: His tenure at Kansas State began with a 1-10 season in 1989 and a 5-6 season in 1990. Snyder wound up coaching until 2005 and returned to Kansas State in 2009, giving him 21 seasons at the school. He is 170-85-1 overall.
Grant Teaff: His 21-year tenure at Baylor began with a two sub-.500 season, 5-6 in 1972 and 2-9 in 1973. But he went 8-4 in 1974 and retired with 128 wins after the 1992 season. His teams won two Southwest Conference titles and appeared in eight bowl games.
Gary Pinkel: He’s entering his 13th season at Missouri, but Pinkel struggled out of the gate. The Tigers were 4-7 in 2001 and 5-7 in 2002, but Pinkel has gone 81-47 since, and his teams have played in eight bowl games.
Art Briles: After five seasons at Houston, Briles took over at Baylor in 2006 and began with consecutive 4-8 seasons. But he’s 25-14 with three bowl appearances over the past three years
Pat Fitzgerald: His tenure at Northwestern began with a 4-8 record in 2006 before he guided the team to a 6-6 mark. But Northwestern is 40-25 over the past five seasons, and Fitzgerald is coming off a 10-3 record in 2012.
Al Golden: The Miami coach is credited with resurrecting the program at Temple, but his tenure in Philadelphia started with a 1-11 record in 2006. The Owls were 4-8 and 5-7 before Golden posted 9-4 and 8-4 records. He left for Miami after the 2010 season.
Greg Schiano: His 11-year run at Rutgers started with 2-9 and 1-11 records. Schiano followed with 5-7 and 4-7 seasons before the Scarlet Knights went 7-5 in 2005, the start of a seven-year run in which Rutgers appeared in six bowl games. Schiano became coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.
Kirk Ferentz: The UConn graduate was 1-10 and 3-9 in his first two seasons as Iowa coach. But in 12 seasons since, Ferentz is 96-55 and he has 100 wins in 14 seasons, a run that includes 10 bowl appearances.
Ten Who Were Fired
Ron Zook: Florida won 103 games in the 10 years before Zook took over in 2004, so his 23-14 record over three seasons appeared weak in comparison. The Gators were 8-5, 8-5 and 7-5 before Zook was fired. He then went 4-19 in his first two seasons at Illinois but managed to survive for a seven-year run.
Ty Willingham: He was 10-2 in his first season at Notre Dame, but records of 5-7 and 6-5 cost him his job after three seasons. He followed with an 11-37 four-year run at Washington and was fired after an 0-12 season in 2008.
Larry Porter: Memphis, which is now in the American Athletic Conference, gave Porter two years. He went 3-21 (1-11 in 2010, 2-10 in 2011) and was fired with three years remaining on his contract. He was 1-14 in Conference USA.
Turner Gill: After gaining notoriety as the Buffalo coach, Gill was hired by Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins and was given a five-year contract in 2010. He lasted two seasons, going 5-19 before he was fired. He's now the coach at Liberty.
Rob Ianello: A former Wisconsin and Notre Dame assistant, Ianello was hired by Akron in December 2009. But he made it through just two seasons of his five-year contract, posting consecutive 1-11 records before he was fired.
Jon Embree: A longtime NFL and college assistant, Embree took over as coach of his alma mater when he was hired by Colorado in December 2010. He went 3-10 in 2011 and 1-11 in 2012, the worst record in school history. Embree was fired after the 2012 season.
Gerry DiNardo: The former Vanderbilt and LSU coach was hired by Indiana in 2002, but he was gone after three seasons. DiNardo went 8-27 and 3-21 in the Big Ten before he was fired after the 2004 season.
Derek Dooley: Son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, he coached Louisiana Tech for three years before he was hired by Tennessee to replace Lane Kiffin in 2010. Dooley went 6-7 before two 5-7 seasons, and he was fired with one game remaining in the 2012 season.
Ellis Johnson: Hired by Southern Mississippi in December 2011, Johnson inherited a program that had 18 consecutive winning seasons. So when Johnson’s team went 0-12 in 2012, he was gone. Johnson had three years left on his contract.
Rick Neuheisel: The former coach at Colorado and Washington returned to his alma mater to coach UCLA in 2008. In four years, he was 21-29 overall and 13-23 in conference play. He was fired after the 2011 season.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun