Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What I know and what I think

Things have been relatively quiet on the coaching search front. Most of what you are hearing is speculation. For the first time that I can remember, BC fans have gotten into the flight tracking game and it appears there was a flight earlier in the week that went to Cincinnati. That would make sense as it would allow Jarmond and his small crew of BC folks to talk to Luke Fickell, Jeff Hafley and potentially Al Washington. From there we have no idea where the BC crew went.

Things I know
-- There are plenty of names that at least got looked at and/or reached out that have not been posted anywhere. Also more NFL names than people realize. I know some are concerned about the NFL and the signing period, but many coaches have made the transition and usually an NFL team will let the coach recruit while still finishing out the NFL season.
-- There has been lots of discussion of salary among BC fans. BC has enough to pay a new coach. The challenge is always do we pay enough for the coaching and support staff. Supposedly that has been addressed and will not be an issue with the new guy.
-- Don't believe that anyone is close and could be done this week (like some have speculated). Father Leahy is not involved in the search process, but will meet with the finalists. That hasn't happened yet.
-- This is probably the best coaching cycle timing we've ever had. There aren't many openings and there is no opening even comparable to BC. Even a guy who seems to have plenty of options and zero fit with BC, like Mike Norvell, has interest. In part to get leverage but also because our job is viewed as an opportunity. It is relatively low pressure and you can win at BC. While the other jobs like Arkansas or FSU pay more, they also come with huge expectations. Even a place like Mizzou fired their .500 coach after four years. We gave Addazio seven.

Army coach Jeff Monken's name floated up Wednesday. Monken has done well at West Point, but he would not even come close to Jarmond's idea of a retool vs a rebuild. Going to option football would be a total revamp. And if Monken ditched the option, then you are taking a big risk that he can adapt from the scheme he has built his entire career on. I doubt he gets the job.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Buckle Up: Coaching Search 2019!

Addazio is gone. Gunnell is the interim. Jarmond is leading a search. That's what everyone knows. This is what I've been told.

The writing was on the wall a long time ago. But things have been falling apart behind the scenes since the Kansas game. You saw testiness from the staff online and even behind closed doors (an alleged assistant fight). Addazio didn't know if he would be fired for certain, but that was the rumor going around the team after Notre Dame. BC also granted Rutgers permission to talk to Addazio, so that also sent a message. 

While they could have gone in many different ways with the staff, Gunnell was a relatively safe pick. He can focus on recruiting between now and the bowl (mostly keeping verbals committed) and let the coordinators get ready for the bowl game. He is well liked by all and will be a very likely candidate to stay on with the new coach. 

The Search
Lots of names have been floated by Feldman and Thamel. Most are predictable and are close to what I have heard. The only name that I think will get a real look that wasn't floated out by those two is Bret Bielema. While there have been feelers and guys who have been reached out to, nothing is even close to being done and no one has had a formal interview. That will start soon (probably later this week). Father Leahy has traditionally been a Wild Card in these events with regards to budgets and approvals, but supposedly he is truly going to let Jarmond run the show (see the wording in the press release).

The Al Washington stuff is pure gossip or speculation. Al might end up being the guy, but this wasn't predetermined and it certainly won't be decided early this week. The Al/Don Brown package is also not a thing. 

If I were betting, I would predict Jeff Hafley but this process never settles on the first hot name (see Mark Whipple, Jack Bicknell Jr or Bob Diaco).

Steve Addazio

When he was hired I said Addazio would turn out to be a "rah rah" version of TOB. He never even did that. The coach deserves our thanks for rebuilding after the Spaz disaster, but we had passed the time to move on. BC can be great and can certainly be better than we've been. It is up to Martin Jarmond and our new coach to get us there.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Now what?

Before I start, as a reminder, this will be a decision between Martin Jarmond and Father Leahy. Everything you hear or read on twitter or message boards is gossip or speculation. I don't know what Jarmond is thinking. I do know that he does have to sell his decision to Father Leahy. Firing a bowl-bound coach makes a lot of sense to many of us. I have no idea if it makes sense to our president.

Here are some things that are not speculation. I think all are relevant:
-- Addazio's current deal and buyout are very manageable. 
-- Rutgers has permission to talk to Addazio, however, reports out of New Jersey say that Rutgers and Schiano are close to a deal.
-- Many agents think the job will open. 
-- Many BC staffers think a change is coming.
-- Many players think a change is coming.

Speculation from me
I think Jarmond wants to make a change. He knows the team has underachieved the past two seasons. He also knows that he will need to make a major hire for his own resume. However, the basketball situation complicates things. I don't know if Jarmond has the political capital or the desire to change both coaches in the same school year. If he is justifying a change, Christian is the easier decision (and he also has a BC-friendly buyout). 

If a change is made, it will be soon. BC won't know its bowl status for a week and is guaranteed a spot via the ACC. It doesn't need Addazio to get invited to a bowl. 

I am going to say there is a change coming but I am just guessing.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The tricky balance of "fit" when making a coaching hire

Fit is very important in college football. There are unique institutional and regional challenges to every job and if a coach is not prepared for those challenges, he is constantly battling up hill. For recent examples you can look at Chris Ash never connecting with New Jersey high school coaches and their recruits at Rutgers or the already awkward relationship between Joe Moorhead and the Mississippi State fanbase.

But you have to be careful when considering fit. You don't want to overlook someone just because he hasn't played or coached at your school. For me, I want someone who understands the type of challenges BC faces, but also understands how to leverage its advantages.

But the biggest trap when considering fit is limiting the search to just candidates the fans know. I write this because of the rumors that Al Washington and Don Brown are favorites to replace Addazio. I don't think this is true (for a variety of reasons). I also think it is way premature to assume anyone is the favorite. But even accepting it at facevalue, I think hiring Brown or Washington now would be a huge risk and a sign of a bad process. Are both guys beloved and respected around BC and New England? Yes. But would any other Power 5 school even have them among their final choices? No.

This is also hard for me to write but age is the biggest factor against both. Brown is too old and Washington is too young.

Brown will be 65 this summer. While he seems to have the energy of a younger man and seems to relate to young players, these jobs are a real grind that will wear even the best. Plus his age will be used against BC over and over in recruiting. Could he do it? Sure. But is he the guy to take BC to the next level? I don't think so. And I think we can do better this time around.

Washington is 35, which while young, isn't a deal breaker. But Washington's resume lacks any coordinator experience. He has never managed a game and never hired a staff. It would be a huge unknown. I like that he has been getting experience away from BC, but he still hasn't checked all the boxes.

If either of these guys are hired, they will have my support. I just don't think it is the right time for either and would be a sign that the searched prized BCness over everything else.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

BC-Pitt preview

Under normal circumstances all the gossip about Addazio to Rutgers or the pressure he has at BC would be a major distraction. I actually don't think it is a big deal. The players and staff have known about Addazio's Hot Seat all season. At this point they are used to it. If anything, they know that this game is important for everyone but Addazio. They need to win to keep playing. They need to impress future coaches. This won't be about Addazio. It will be about this group fighting for one more game.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There is an outside chance that BC could play in a bowl even if they lose this game. IF not enough teams qualify for bowls, the empty slots are then filled with teams with the best APR. Right now Duke holds the first spot. BC is No. 2. This remains a long shot, but it could happen. I would prefer to just win, but more BC football is always welcome.

Three Simple Keys
1. Scoring before the half. This is directly related to last week but it was a problem for the whole Addazio era. He has wasted time and possessions over and over. This is probably his last game. Try to be smart.
2. Grosel using his feet. There will be plenty of chances for him to run. He needs to be smart and convert when given the chance.
3. Don't allow big plays. For Pitt, I would prefer a little bend but don't break. Make them work the field and hope for mistakes.

Gambling Notes
-- Pitt leads the series 17-12
-- Addazio is 3-3 in season finales
-- BC is 0-2 at Heinz Field
The current line is BC+8.5

This is the first time BC has played in Pittsburgh in an ACC game.

Scoreboard Watching
Michigan-Ohio State. Beyond all the BC connections on both sides, there are two names attached to watch: Jeff Hafley and Anthony Campanile. Both will be mentioned for the BC job...probably as early as Monday.

BC is in trouble if...
Pitt stops the running game. Narduzzi is a good defensive coach and will try to make BC one-dimensional. If Pitt controls line and stops the running game, BC will not win.

I hope to see...
A huge day from Dillon. This is probably his final game at BC. He has been great. Unfortunately the team has been forgettable during his three seasons. It would be nice to go out with a big win.

Bottom Line
I think we control the line of scrimmage and Grosel has a big day. The D gets a bit lucky with turnovers and we grind away with the run game in the second half.
Final Score: BC 28, Pitt 20

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Coaching Candidates: BC Guys

There will be lots of names floated for any BC opening. And with each coaching carousel there are plenty of names mentioned for every opening. However, there will be a few BC-specific names that will at least get a look. These are the sorts of candidates who won't get interviewed at any other P5 jobs and probably wouldn't be considered for BC if not for their alumni status. I would be very surprised if any of these guys got the job, but all might be worth the risk. Getting a true BC guy to take us to the next level would be special.

Mike Reed '95
Defensive Backs Coach, Clemson 
Bio: A player from the Coughlin era, Reed has been in coaching for 18 years. He had a stint coaching in the NFL with Eagles, then worked for TOB at NC State and has been with Dabo in Clemson during their championship run.
Pros: Reed is considered a very good recruiter and is well liked by the BC Football alumni. He works in the ACC. He has been part of one of the most successful college programs of the decade.
Cons: Reed has never been a coordinator and has turned down chances to come back to BC as an assistant (under TOB, Jags and Spaz).
Bottom Line: If Reed was one of Clemson's coordinators, he would already be a Head Coach. Unlike Brent Venables -- who is not particularly polished -- Reed can be the face of a program. The only hole on his resume is the lack of track record of calling a game on one side of the ball.

Pete Carmichael Jr. '94
Offensive Coordinator, New Orleans Saints
Bio: Carmichael is a former BC baseball player and his dad was a football coach at BC under Yukica, Bicknell and Coughlin. He has been the offensive coordinator for one of the NFL's best and most dynamic offenses for a decade. At 12, Pete served as Bicknell's headset/cord guy. That is young Pete getting the headset right after Flutie's Hail Mary.

Pros: The Saints have been innovators at the NFL level, so you assume Carmichael would bring an exciting product and also blend the best of the NFL and college. His NFL pedigree could be an effective recruiting tool.
Cons: Carmichael doesn't call the plays in New Orleans and Payton and Brees tend to get all the credit. He hasn't coached or recruited in college since the '90s.
Bottom Line: Despite expressing interest Carmichael never even got a sniff at the job when Bates fired Spaz. It was surprising then and also remains a bit surprising that he hasn't been given a shot in the NFL.

Marc Colombo '02
Offensive Line Coach, Dallas Cowboys
Pros: He coaches arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. He transitioned seamlessly from his playing career to coaching. The Jones family loves him and there is already speculation that he will be a Cowboys Head Coach one day. He would continue the BC tradition of developing great OLines.
Cons: He has only coached in the NFL and only been an official coach with the Cowboys for three seasons (prior to that he was in their front office). He has no experience recruiting and no experience running one side of the ball.
Bottom Line: Colombo might turn out to be one of those names that has us saying "what if" a decade from now, but if he were to come to BC this year it would be a huge risk. His lack of experience would probably create growing pains that other candidates wouldn't face.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Dominoes fall: Rutgers and Schiano can't reach deal

Rutgers and Greg Schiano couldn't agree to terms and their former coach will not return to the New Jersey school. This impacts BC on two fronts. One, it leaves Schiano as a prime candidate for the BC job. He has plenty of baggage and plenty of detractors, but he will also have some very influential supporters in his corner. I will dive deeper into Schiano this week, but in my opinion, he would be very good at BC.

The second way this could impact BC is Rutgers needing a Plan B. The New Jersey media is already listing two names previously floated for BC: Anthony Campanile and Joe Moorhead. I will go deeper into both of those guys too. But I think ultimately their Plan B will include Steve Addazio. While I don't think interest from Rutgers will change perception of Addazio at BC nor protect him from a firing, having Rutgers hire him away (either pre or post firing) would reduce his BC buyout.

The odds that Schiano ends up at BC and Addazio ends up at Rutgers are very, very slim, but would be a win-win for all.