Friday, December 27, 2019

What to watch for in the Ohio State game

As most know, I am a huge Ryan Day fan. Now with my new interest in Jeff Hafley, I am all aboard the Ohio State bandwagon. Their playoff game against Clemson is a great opportunity for BC. Here are a few things to follow during the game.

1. BC mentions. The cameras ignored Hafley during the Big Ten championship game. They won't this time. Even if BC is not Alabama, hiring a coordinator in this game is a storyline. It will get some attention,,, especially if the Ohio State D looks either dominant or struggles.

2. Hafley's adjustments. I was impressed during the Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State got burned early by being too aggressive. In the second half, Hafley came out with a new look and dropped lots of guys into coverage and changed the game. It gave me hope he will be a good game manager.

3. Hafley getting his first look at Clemson. Dabo's guys are on such a roll they can make Saban look bad. They may destroy Ohio State. But we should view this as learning opportunity. Hafley is going to face them every year. This game is not just a playoff. It is his chance to start prepping for BC-Clemson.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas Gift idea

I've plugged this before but as a reminder, BC guy Michael Shoule created a great short kids book on BC Football years ago. It is available through the bookstore and is great for any fan with young kids.

What to make of Early Signing Day

The looming aspect of the coaching search was always the Early Signing Day. This was always going to be a smallish recruiting class (mid teens) but Addazio filled the class with good quality. It was important to hold it together. But like all transition classes, there were a few hiccups. One player, Jah Joyner decommited and signed with Minnesota. Two others OL prospects -- Addison Penn from Texas and Dwayne Allick from Maryland -- are both waiting until Jeff Hafley completes his staff to commit.

As of now there are ten guys signed (nine official with OL prospect Kevin Pyne not counting but he is enrolling in January). Considering it is such a small class, there is no one position of focus nor a major geographical trend. It is just a little bit of everything that should add some depth. The best player and best story is Ozzy Trapilo. Like his father, he was a star at BC High and hopes to be a star at BC.

I am not worried about the small size of this class (nor the potential of guys transferring out of the program). Jeff Hafley is about to get an enormous amount of national publicity. That should help with any kid still looking for a shot and it will help as a sales pitch to players looking to transfer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Breaking down the Hafley press conference: the Earnest Eagle

I don't remember Tom O'Brien's introductory press conference (or if there even was one). But every football coach since has been introduced in a similar manner and usually the introduction foreshadows the era ahead. (Jags: a little crazy and loose, but fun. Spaz: uncomfortable with an uneasy feeling in the room. Addazio: lots of passion with a little bluster and a scattershot direction.) If Hafley's introduction is as telling, then we are in for a special time. I can't remember a coach who came off as earnest.

Hafley hit all the usual notes but did so in a measured, controlled way. He didn't over promise. He didn't come off as ill prepared. He was certainly selling, but not in that over the top way. He is very calculating but not in a cold way. He wasn't afraid to show emotion yet didn't wear it on his sleeve. Over and over he mentioned people and prior relationships. We don't know specifics of his  Xs & Os but all the other aspects of leading the program (organization, communication, recruiting, development) seem perfectly aligned. This is going to be different then the last decade.

Hafley didn't tip his hand with regards to staffing. He plans to take his time. The early Signing Period helps that because he can lock in most of his open scholarships this week and doesn't need as many assistants out on the road immediately. He gave no indication of what type of offense or defense he will run. He was asked specifically about Anthony Brown and avoided any trap or commitment other than he will talk to Brown.

Our last three coaches have used the press conference to say that BC was their dream. Hafley didn't. He just said this was one of those jobs that seemed special. He also referenced about how until coming back to college, he had planned on being an NFL head coach. Based on today, I think that he will be. But his first step is making a name for himself at BC.

Monday, December 16, 2019

BC's asking for money and they are right

I think it is fair to say Addazio was unpopular with most BC fans. The hardcore have been frustrated for a few years and the casual have been showing their lack of enthusiasm by not coming to Alumni. As I have said, Jeff Hafley represents many things, but best of all is hope. Hope that things will be fun again. Martin Jarmond heard the fans. He made the change and he identified a prime candidate and closed on him. I think most of us are happy about this. Now we have to show our part.

If you follow social media you might have seen a few pleas for people to buy tickets or reminders to give. This is pretty transparent but also appropriate. If you like what happened vote with your dollars. Here are three very specific ways to show your approval.

1. Give BC money. Direct your donation to the Flynn Fund to show your approval of what happened. Or if you give to the BC Fund (that's my usual direction) perhaps allocate a portion to the Flynn Fund. My rationale for giving to the BC Fund over the Flynn Fund is I usually defer to BC as to where they feel the money is most impactful. The reason I might do things differently this year is because I want to show my support of this action.

2. Buy tickets for next year. We won't know what sort of brand of football Jeff Hafley brings to BC yet, but there is no reason to stay away next year. Even if it is a bumpy transition, the players and new coaches deserve our support.

3. Buy BC merchandise. While not as directly lucrative as tickets or straight giving, buying BC merchandise is a show of support...especially if you buy it from BC. It is Christmas time anyway. This can be a good gift and help the school!

Friday, December 13, 2019

A new face and a new start

Martin Jarmond tweeted white smoke and Thamel is siting sources, but Jeff Hafley is the new Boston College Football head coach. Official announcement will come Saturday morning. There is a lot to digest with Hafley and the hiring process, but that can wait. My gut reaction: this is a great hire and a great fit. 

Hafley shares a profile with the guys who have had the most success at BC in the last 30 years. He's a coordinator in his 40s. He's hungry and looking for his first shot as a head coach. He either had prior experience at BC or at places that were similar enough to know how to leverage what BC is and can be.

Beyond the profile fit, the best thing about hiring a first time head coach is that he is 0-0 and has little baggage. We can project a bright future on him and will be patient as he learns. 

For 11 years it has felt like BC Football had a clear ceiling. For now that ceiling is gone. That's exciting.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Addazio and Colorado State did BC a favor

Colorado State hired Steve Addazio Wednesday. I don't think it is a fit for either, but let them figure it out. But Addazio's hiring is great news for BC.

1. It reduces BC's obligation to Addazio. Addazio's buyout didn't prohibit BC from making a move and now we will get even more relief. Because BC is private, we won't know the official numbers, but multiple people say there is a provision to reduce the buyout if he is hired by another school.

2. He is very unlikely to recruit against BC. If Addazio ended up at Rutgers or UConn or even Florida Atlantic, he would have crossed paths occasionally with BC on the recruiting front. Regardless of what you think, the guy can recruit. Colorado State is a very different sell and in a very different geographic footprint. Recruiting against Addazio will not be an issue.

3. It makes the BC job look that much better. Some jobs are considered coach killers in that once you leave you'll never get a head coaching job again. BC is not. We just gave him seven years and he was able to leverage that body of work into another job.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

All good things to those who wait

BC fans are getting antsy because we haven't named a new coach. Our last football search took nine days and gave us seven years of .500 ball. Do we want that again? The truth is there was never any need to rush. This was a relatively slow coaching carousel and we had no real competition for the type of job we are offering nor the type of candidate we want. Luke Fickell was the only name associated with our job who was also floated for the other openings. All those openings are filled and Fickell is still with Cincy. We didn't need to rush him or bid against others.

Why is it taking this long? Aside from the obvious targets being tied up with Championship games last weekend, there were also NFL people to talk to. That carried into this week.

In the meantime, a few names have entered the transfer portal and Dillon declared for the NFL Draft. Dillon declaring happens regardless of the coaching change. The transfers are typical for a coaching change. You don't rush these sorts of things to appease a few guys on the roster. A head coach's impact is much bigger and with a school much longer than a few players. It is important to name a coach before Signing Day but that is still more than a week away.

In the end this has been a more thorough process than our last football searches. I remain optimistic that BC will hire a good coach. For now, we continue to wait.

Monday, December 09, 2019

RIP Peter Frates

Former BC Baseball player Peter Frates passed away Monday after his long battle with ALS. I did not know Frates, but to say he was beloved by the BC Athletics community would be an understatement. His battle with ALS inspired many and he was the driving force in the Ice Bucket Challenge which led to unprecedented fundraising for ALS. His work and sacrifice will hopefully lead to a cure.

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.