Sunday, February 25, 2024

Learn more about Bill O'Brien's coaching techniques and philosophies

Yet another difference in hiring Bill O'Brien vs a first time head coach is that he has been prominently involved in numerous coaching clinics over the years. The following series dates back to his Penn State days but also touches on his time with New England, Houston and Alabama. They are very insightful into his personality and how he will run an offense, a coaching staff and work with his players.

It is also clear that he likes empty set formations a lot. That is very exciting with Castellanos, especially if TC has the green light to run if no one is spying him. 

My only concern is that there a lots of reads for the QB and the WRs...certainly more than last year. They will either have to teach a lot in the offseason or simplify he offense. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Thoughts on O'Brien's introductory press conference


I've blogged through five new Head Football Coaches' introductory press conferences. I know this doesn't really mean much beyond the respective coach's introduction to BC. But given that, here are a series of thoughts...

1. If we are going by energy and vibes, this was the most even keeled and professional. O'Brien set the right tone. He didn't make over the top promises. He didn't try to sell himself. He wasn't goofy or forced. He showed the right deference to Father Leahy and the people who hired him. Blake James didn't turn it into his show either. And he didn't have to sell the hire or convince BC fans that this was the right choice. We all know it was. 

2. Based on his coaching style and temperament, I don't know O'Brien is trying to be "likable" but there were certainly some charming moments in the press conference. He had his family and extended family, plus numerous friends and former players in attendance and acknowledged many of them. He rattled off so many connections to local towns that he would clearly clean up on SNL's old "What’s the Best Way" sketch. 

3. He mentioned Reggie Terry multiple times and how helpful he has been in the transition. That's good to hear and know. Terry was brought in by Addazio and easily could have been an "Addazio guy." Instead he has stayed on and become a "BC guy" and is now working with his third head coach. Those people -- who get BC and have institutional knowledge -- are invaluable to a new coach who has a lot coming at him. Father Jack was also mentioned. Though his role is very different from Terry's, he also has a long connection to BC football and first hand perspective on different BC coaches. I hope O'Brien leverages that experience as appropriate.

4. This was probably the first BC new coach press conference that didn't mention Jerry York.

5. O'Brien didn't provide many specifics on schemes or staff. He said that will come later. He also didn't hesitate to address (nor whine) about the changing dynamics of college football. He said you have to embrace it and work. Easier said than done, but definitely a good answer.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

A new era

Identities are important...especially for institutions. Institutions need their identities, so as times and people change, the identity carries on and new people can grasp on to something. It provides security and trust. Changing that identity is risky and members of institutions are naturally risk averse. They wouldn't hold onto institutions if they wanted something new. BC established a clear identity for its football program for years. Coaches were part of that identity and most of our hires over the last 40 years have been assistants looking for their shot or smaller college guys looking to move up. Bill O'Brien doesn't fit either mold. He won at a big college program and in the NFL. And now he is the most accomplished Football coach BC has ever hired. 

BC athletic director Blake James deserves the majority of the credit for hiring O'Brien. Too many ADs in the past would just keep to the mold. Keep to the budget. Keep control. James hired an established leader with instant credibility and someone who is likely to succeed. Ever since Coughlin left, we've had a series of mediocre and bad coaches. Most of those guys had some level of success. In theory if they could stumble into six wins and a bowl game, the ceiling for BOB should be much higher. 

One of the selling points to some of the past unknowns is that we might be hiring the next Tom Coughlin, the next Hall of Famer, a guy who is going to unlock something special at BC. Because they were blank slates, we rationalized it to ourselves. "Maybe he is special." Reality would kick in along the way. Sometimes pretty quickly. With Bill O'Brien we don't have to strain to believe. We don't have to fool ourselves. We know he can do it because he has done it before. 

I know it may not work. It is never as simple as "just go hire the biggest name." For this to be special, BOB will have to adjust, he will have to find the right people (staff and players) and BC will have to get a little lucky. But we are trying something different and that is a good thing. We are stepping out of our place in the College Football ecosystem. We are changing our identity.  

It is a new beginning at BC and 2024 is already one of the most important years in BC Football and it is only February. Let's go!

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Don't fall for the BC coaching narrative

Every time BC has a coaching change you hear and read about how bad the BC job is, how hard it is to win at BC and how it is a career killer. With Jeff Hafley's departure, the same canards are back. But they are not true. Let's break it down.

BC is a bad job
Rarely when someone calls BC a bad job, do they ever really explain why. As I say ad nauseam, this is a P4 job. There are only so many of them and hundreds of guys who want their shot. Does BC have challenges? Of course. All jobs do. At BC you have a shallow recruiting base, you fight for attention in a big city, you don't have rubber stamp admissions, and you won't be the highest paid coach in your league. Unless you catch lightning in a bottle or you stay and build something incredible, you won't win a National Championship at BC.

However, those challenges are more than offset by some of the charm and benefits of BC. First the expectations are low. You will be given time to succeed (average tenure since Bick is 5.3 years). You will be able to live in the greater Boston area and you and your family will not be bothered living your daily lives. The recruiting is niche and you will get to work with a certain type of player that most of these coaches seem to appreciate.

Hard to win at BC?
This argument is the least subjective. Since the DIA-DIAA split there have been three BC coaches who had college football head coaching experience outside of BC. All of them won more and at a better winning percentage at BC.

Jack Bicknell
Win Pct at outside of BC (college only) -- .342
Win Pct at BC -- .517

Tom O'Brien
Win Pct outside of BC -- .533
Win Pct at BC -- .625

Steve Addazio
Win Pct outside of BC -- .425
Win Pct at BC -- .500

Career Killer
Once again, this seems very subjective, if you go case-by-case, it is hard to pin much blame on the BC job. Some guys had great opportunities and a few never came close to the level again. A recurring theme for many is that BC was the highpoint of their careers, not some death trap. Here is the post-BC career of all of our coaches since the DIA-DIAA split.

Jack Bicknell: After a 10 year run at BC, Bicknell served as one of the original head coaches in the World League. He stayed on as the league morphed into NFL Europe and coached another 14 years. He is the winningest coach in the league's history.
Did his career peak at BC? Yes, but it wasn't over.

Tom Coughlin: He left BC to become the first GM and Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had a very good run there. Later, he joined the New York Giants and won two Super Bowls in New York. He will be in the Hall of Fame one day.
Did his career peak at BC? Are you kidding me? If anything BC gave him the shot to stand out from the hundreds of other assistants who wanted NFL jobs.

Dan Henning: After getting fired at BC, Henning went back to his comfort zone -- calling plays in the NFL. In his final years coaching, he was the OC in Buffalo, with the Jets, the Panthers and Dolphins.
Did his career peak at BC? No. We got him on the downside. He had already been part of multiple Super Bowls under Joe Gibbs and had been a head coach in the NFL twice.

Tom O'Brien: He left for NC State and many assumed that unshackled by BC's limitations, he would take NC State to the next level. He didn't.
Did his career peak at BC? Yes. NC State paid more, but he never had the level of success he had at BC.

Jeff Jagodzinski: He had so much success at BC that the NFL came calling. That interview with the Jets and his game of chicken with Gene cost him his job at the Heights.
Did his career peak at BC? Yes. He became a football vagabond after BC.

Frank Spaziani: After getting fired, Spaz went home and happily let BC pay him not to work. When his buyout expired, he went to New Mexico State for a few more years of assistant work.
Did his career peak at BC? Yes. No one expected Spaz to ever be a head coach until Gene tapped him to replace Jags.

Steve Addazio: Immediately after getting fired, Addazio landed the Colorado State job. CSU's quick hiring and firing of Addazio proved how misguided the perception is around BC. CSU saw a .500 record and had Urban Meyer telling them that going .500 at BC was a miracle. We all know how that worked out for them.
Did his career peak at BC? Yes. He had other head coaching jobs, but BC was his most lucrative and successful.  

Jeff Hafley: Left of his own volition. This is still so fresh that you can't make any comments about his post-BC career.
Did his career peak at BC? TBD