Temple coach Addazio prepares for a Connecticut homecoming

DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: October 11, 2012

As Temple prepares for its first Big East road test since 2004, Steve Addazio faces the emotional challenge of going home.

The Owls' second-year head coach won't have much time to socialize in Connecticut this weekend. But you have to believe that folks will make the 13 1/2-mile drive from his hometown of Farmington, Conn., to Rentschler Field to watch Temple (2-2, 1-0 Big East) play Connecticut (3-3, 0-1) on Saturday.

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni gave Addazio his first coaching job as an assistant at Western Connecticut State in 1985. Addazio later coached under Pasqualoni from 1995 to '98 at Syracuse after turning Pasqualoni's high school, Cheshire (Conn.), into a national powerhouse.

"I wouldn't be where I am right now without him," Addazio said. "It begins and ends right there. He taught me how to be a football coach."

Pasqualoni said Addazio had the same high energy, emotion, and work ethic he displays at Temple as a Western Connecticut State assistant.

"You could see that in him as a very young coach," Pasqualoni said. "There's no question he had the skill set and the ability to be a very good head coach in this level."

And the story line gets better.

Huskies booster Robert Burton wanted former UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway to hire Addazio - not Pasqualoni - in January 2011, three weeks after the former Florida assistant became Temple's coach.

Now Pasqualoni finds himself on the hot seat for not living up to a five-year, $8.5 million contract with an 8-10 record since being named coach.

Addazio is doing his best to get the message out that he's happy at Temple, which rejoined the Big East this season after being kicked out following the 2004 season.

"This is my home right now," Addazio said of Philadelphia. "Am I proud of where I'm from? You're darn right I'm proud of where I'm from. Do I think that Connecticut did a lot for me? There's no question the state of Connecticut did a lot for me.

"But right now, I live in Philadelphia. I work for Temple, and I love it."

However, Addazio said that it's exciting to go home to face UConn. But not just for him.

Temple tight ends coach Frank Leonard, a native of Wethersfield, Conn., played with Addazio at Central Connecticut State. He worked with his former teammate on Pasqualoni's Western Connecticut State staff in 1987, and he served as UConn's outside-linebackers coach from 1990 to '93.

Sean McGowan, who coaches inside linebackers and special teams at Temple, is from Cheshire, Conn., and played at Cheshire for Addazio. And Owls freshman linebacker Tyler Matakevich is from Stratford, Conn.

Regarding his time with Pasqualoni at Western Connecticut, Addazio said, "I could tell you stories, just crazy stuff. We all slept in the office. You are cutting old 16-millimeter film. You have strips of film hanging on the walls.

"Coach P has this makeshift wall . . . which was nothing. We are all on the other side of the wall and go to sleep there going 'Night, guys. 'Night, Coach.' It was like something out of The Waltons."

Back then, Pasqualoni and his staff did everything from washing socks to lining the field.

"I came back from my wedding, and Coach is on a tractor. I am on my hands and knees putting irrigation down to water the field," Addazio said. "You just can't make this stuff up."

Join Keith Pompey at www.philly.com/owlsinq as he takes your Temple football questions in a live chat, starting Thursday at 1 p.m.

Temple at UConn

Saturday at 1 p.m.

Line: UConn by 51/2

Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq


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