UPDATE: Steve Addazio Hired As New Head Football Coach

By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor

Steve Addazio will be the next head coach of the Boston College football team, athletic director Brad Bates announced today. Addazio will leave his job as head coach at Temple University to take over for Frank Spaziani, who was fired just nine days ago.

 “I’ve only been here six weeks,” Bates said. “I’m looking for a partner who I can be joined at the hip with and really strive for excellence in Boston College athletics. [Addazio] is a key leader in this department.”

 Bates interviewed Addazio on two separate occasions before making the hire official today. Addazio will be signed to a six-year contract, though the money was not disclosed.

 “The process, as I’ve said all along – I wasn’t really strictly adhering to a timeline,” Bates told The Heights, just after he met with the team to announce the hire. “We had to make sure we got a perfect fit. The process was meticulous and deliberate enough that there’s no question in my mind we were able to accomplish that.”

 Bates met with the media on Tuesday night to further discuss the hiring.

 “I really believe that Steve Addazio is a great coach who is a great fit for Boston College right now,” Bates said.

 Since he met with the players nine days ago and talked about what they wanted in a new head coach, Bates knew that he needed to hire a coach the players could build a strong relationship with.

 “Everything in Steve’s background demonstrates that he’s going to create a family culture in the program that’s a team,” Bates said.

 Secondly, the team wanted a coach who brought great passion to the locker room and the field, and Bates said he found exactly that in Addazio.

 “You’ll see [Addazio] has incredible passion and energy,” Bates said. “He is one of the most energized, passionate people I’ve ever been around. His enthusiasm is contagious. Just sitting around him, you’re going to feel more inspired. So imagine that playing out in a coaching methodology.”

 The third factor the team wanted in a coach was someone who was going to win, and Bates said that Addazio “certainly has a background in competitive success and winning.”

 During the search process, Bates talked to NFL owners, NFL coaches, commissioners, college head coaches and assistant coaches, executive directors, and more. He reached out to those people he trusted in order to figure out if certain candidates would be a good fit at BC.

 At the end of the 2012 season, multiple BC football players came out and said there was a lack of accountability on the team. While the players said the responsibility falls on them to change that, Bates believes that Addazio can help improve that attitude as well.

 “He’s got a plan, he’ll be a disciplinarian,” Bates said. “He will be incredibly demanding on and off the field, but at the end of the day, the students are going to know he genuinely and sincerely cares about them.”

 Bates told the players in a team meeting at 5 p.m. today, and wanted them to hear the announcement from him first.

 “We wanted to make sure the players heard it from us,” Bates said. “We try to do everything we can to make sure they’re not hearing it secondhand. We tried to be as stealth as possible so that they’d hear it from us.”

 Though he didn’t want to put words in their mouth, Bates said the players’ reactions “seemed to be a general level of excitement and enthusiasm.”

 While the coaching carousel in college football is ongoing and unpredictable, Bates made it seem like he didn’t think Addazio would use BC as a stepping stone in his career.

 “This is a guy who grew up in the Northeast and has dreamed of being at Boston College,” Bates said. “He is thrilled to be here and he’s already hitting the ground running. We bounced over a lot of things today in terms of what needs to be prepared and what he’s already getting into.

 “Who can predict the future? Is any place a destination anymore? The landscape of college athletics is evolving  so quickly, and there’s so many different variables that are involved in how people choose jobs and their longevity. I can’t predict the future completely. But here’s a guy who’s incredibly enthusiastic to be at Boston College.”

 Bates said he was looking for a coach who would provide some stability in a program that has had a lot of attrition in recent history.

 “Continuity is an incredible cohesive force in building a team,” Bates said. “And so having attrition is disruptive. This team has had a lot of disruption in terms of that continuity.”

 Bates said that Addazio has been on his list of potential coaching candidates “for a number of years.”

 Addazio compiled a record of 13-11 at Temple in his two years there—9-4 in 2011 (as a member of the MAC) and 4-7 in 2012 (as a member of the Big East). Prior to that, Addazio was the offensive coordinator at Florida in 2009 and 2010, and an assistant at various spots from 2005-2008. While at Florida, Addazio was part of a staff that won the BCS national championship in 2006 and 2008. He served as a mentor for the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow during that time.

 Bates first got to know Addazio when he was at Florida, and has been watching and studying him since then. He also got to see Addazio firsthand when Temple faced Miami in a game during the 2011 season.

 “I saw him firsthand two years ago because I was at Miami University and Temple was still in the MAC,” Bates said. “I had actually gotten to know him a few years ago when he was at Florida, and I have been really watching him since his work at Florida and [I have] been studying him. So that’s why he was on my shortlist to begin with.”

 Former BC assistant coach Ryan Day worked under Addazio at Temple this year, and Bates said that while he didn’t talk to Day directly, he did get Day’s take secondhand.

 “I talked to a lot of people, but not directly,” he said. “I didn’t want to do things … there are two ways of approaching it. You can have trusted colleagues make calls so there’s no direct communication, but people that you know and trust, you can call directly. I don’t know Ryan personally, so there was communication that was taking place, but it was secondhand.”

Regarding the current BC coaching staff, Bates said it is something that has yet to be decided in terms of who will stay and who will go.

 “All of that’s undecided,” he said. “We’ve certainly had conversations, but nothing that would be definitive at this point. We’ve talked in general terms. He clearly has some ideas of what he wants to do, but he’s going to research the context. He’s going to visit with the team, he’s going to visit with the staff.

 “This is a well-connected guy in the football community. He’s going to have an amazing collection of coaches that he can assemble. The key is going to be making sure that he gets a group that has diverse skill sets and experiences so that they compliment one another.”

 Speculation had surfaced this morning from outlets including ESPN that the three finalists were Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Ball State head coach Pete Lambo, and the New Orleans Saints’ offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Addazio’s name had not come up as a candidate throughout the process, and in response to the supposed list of finalists, Bates said it was “interesting.”

 “Honestly, I don’t know what the speculation was,” Bates said. “Steve was actually someone on my short list from the beginning. He’s got a tremendous reputation, people speak very highly of him. People that I respect in the industry have enormous regard for his talents and what he’s done in his coaching background.”

 Addazio, 53, will be introduced in an official press conference at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the Yawkey Center at BC. 

We’ve talked in general terms. He clearly has some ideas of what he wants to do, but he’s going to research the context. He’s going to visit with the team, he’s going to visit with the staff. This is a well-connected guy in the football community. He’s going to have an amazing collection of coaches that he can assemble. The key is going to be making sure that he gets a group that has diverse skill sets and experiences so that they compliment one another. — Brad Bates, asked about what will happen to the current Boston College football staff with the hiring of Steve Addazio as head coach.

Spaziani Trying To Get The Right Mentality Back To BC

By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor

Yesterday, fifth-year captain Emmett Cleary said that much of the Boston College football team’s struggles over the past two seasons could be attributed to a lack of seniors and fifth-years. Multiple players from Cleary’s class have left, either for personal or academic reasons.

Today, head coach Frank Spaziani tried to put into words the effect that the attrition has had on the Eagles and their downfall in recent years.

“It was something that you would rather not have happen,” Spaziani said about the players leaving. “You would rather have those guys being fifth-year seniors or seniors now. That would be more of a strength, but it just wasn’t. You worry about who’s here rather than who’s not here.”

Spaziani has been a coach on the Heights for 16 years, but he said it wasn’t always the case that this many players left BC.

“There weren’t many people leaving,” Spaziani said. “In the first 8 to 10 years I was here, there weren’t many people transferring out, I don’t remember any. And then did we lose somebody academically? I don’t remember any of those.”

The perfect example of the kind of player that made BC what it was during its successful years a few years ago is BJ Raji, Spaziani said. The night before Raji was set to begin his fourth year on the football team at BC, he was declared academically ineligible for the season.

“He could have just went, ‘I’m going to the NFL,’” Spaziani said. “But he went, ‘Okay. I’m going to class, I’m going to scout team, and I’ll play next year. That was the quote ‘attitude.’ That’s what we need.”

Asked if that “attitude” has changed or if it is not present among the current group of players, Spaziani backtracked a little.

“Attitude wasn’t the right word,” Spaziani said. “It’s just what the place represented and why you came here and all of those things. The guys, even though maybe it wasn’t working out for them—because it doesn’t work out for everyone. You recruit 20 guys, you don’t have 20 starters in four years. It doesn’t work out that way. But they liked it here. They came here for the education, the community, and that blend. It was worth it to stay here for them. And then it got changed. “

Why did that mindset get changed? Spaziani paused for some time, then chose his words carefully.

“Recruiting…three coaches in four years,” he said. “Different stuff.”

Despite the change, Spaziani said he thinks it’s moving back to BC getting the right players—the ones who want to be in Chestnut Hill for the right reasons.

“I think so,” Spaziani said. “You’ve got a constant. Whats been the constant?”

Pointing to himself, Spaziani answered his own question.

“Moi.”

My freshman and [sophomore] year, and even this year a little bit, I’m looking at the other people’s sidelines and they have 100 people, and I’m thinking, I’m a freshman and there’s a couple of fifth-years in the huddle with me and there’s some seniors and then last year it was the same thing. And then I went on to Scout and we had a lot of—or we should have had older guys the last two years, even this year. A lot of guys have left. That could obviously play a role in something, but just having older guys is good to have in the locker room. Starting next season, my class will be—no one’s left in my class, and so we’ll have a full team and that will help us out a lot. — Chase Rettig, on the impact he thinks a lack of fifth-years and seniors has had on BC’s struggles over the past two years.

Part three of our Best Of compilation for Photo Editor Daniel Lee.

Part one of our Best Of compilation for Photo Editor Daniel Lee.

"Let me say this about that [call]. And I do understand that it’s a point of contention and people would have different opinions on it. But that situation has been produced in practice and simulated in scrimmages. That exact situation came up in one of our scrimmages, which we script. We script different times, we script overtime … That situation came up. We hailed off the cuff as you would in a scrimmage, in simulated game. We made a decision on that day, and then we went back in and reviewed it and discussed how we would do this in a game, was that right—we second-guessed ourselves ahead of time. Some of the factors that went into it were, ‘Okay, well we decided to go to overtime. Well why would you decide to go to overtime?’ How was your offense playing? How was your defense playing? How was the flow of the game going? What was the pulse of the players? It’s a little bit more than just, ‘Oh there’s 59 seconds left, let’s make this decision.’ And I do understand that. But we as coaches have to do a little bit more than that. Is there second-guessing? You better believe it. But under those circumstances, we thought that was our best chance to win. I’ll tell you why: throwing the ball we were 13-for-something. We were getting sacked. Our guys weren’t open. We were having pressure there. We were playing some good defense. We felt going into overtime was our best calculated [chance] to win. It turned out wrong. Now, did it turn out wrong because of that? I don’t know. There were a lot of other things. There’s a lot that goes into that. Second-guessing? I don’t know, maybe we would have thrown a screen rather than run a draw on the first play [of overtime]. But the decision? I would do the same thing. I would do the same, taking into account everything that I just told you. It’s a little bit more than—that’s why we try to take the feelings out of it. We try to do a professional job with it. That’s what coaches do.”

“You can disagree. That’s what fans are. We got great fans and great students. Gotta love that—anyone can disagree. But it’s 59 seconds on our 16-yard line. And my job is to give our kids the best chance and make a calculated judgment on what our best chance is to win. And we felt going into overtime that we could hold them to a field goal and we felt we could score. We felt we would not give up a touchdown. That’s the way we felt. It didn’t turn out that way, but not for a lack of effort or thinking about it. A lot of thought went into it.”

— Head coach Frank Spaziani on if he had any second-guessing of his decision to take a knee at the end of regulation and take the game into overtime, which BC lost 30-23.

"I wouldn’t put anything past Dave. But Dave is new with the whole position. He does have instincts and some of our better runs we had last week—whatever ones we had—Dave made. Can he be a 30 or 40-carry per game guy? I don’t know. We’re not projecting that."

"I would think they’re both … What have we done in the past? We’ve had two backs play. It depends on how the flow of the game goes and what needs to be done."

— Head coach Frank Spaziani on how he saw the running back situation going on Saturday between David Dudeck and Deuce Finch

First Downs Will Be Key For Offense At Wake Forest

By Austin Tedesco, Asst. Sports Editor

After putting up over 30 points in four out of its first five games, the Boston College offense has struggled to get into the end zone the last three times out, including Saturday’s win over Maryland. The Eagles’ offense thrived early in the season by striking fast, getting the defense on its toes, and then forcing the ball down the field at will.

“We’ve seen throughout the season that not a lot of people can stop our no-huddle,” said senior offensive lineman Emmett Cleary. “We have a certain amount of confidence that once we get that first first-down we really get rolling and it’s difficult for people [to stop us].”

Cleary couldn’t be more right. The BC offense has played very well once it builds momentum off that initial first down, especially when the very first play of the drive is successful.

Of the 19 touchdown drives for the Eagles (drives that only included one play or began inside the opponent’s 10 were excluded from this statistic), 14 of them began with an initial first-down play of five yards or more. It is further proof that once the Eagles have gotten rolling, they’ve been tough to stop.

Additionally, out of BC’s 28 scoring drives (which includes both touchdowns and field goals) 18 of them have come off of initial first-down plays of five yards or more. In fact, BC is averaging right around 14 yards per initial first-down play on its scoring drives.

The problem in the last three games has been getting that important first-down play. Out of 35 opportunities against Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Maryland, the Eagles picked up five yards or more on 14 of those initial first-down plays. Ten of those 14 plays for five yards or more led to scoring drives. BC will need to execute solid gains on first down at a much more efficient clip if the offense is going to bring back the success it had early in the year.

“For whatever reason in the [Maryland] game, first downs weren’t very good for us,” said quarterback Chase Rettig. “If we can fix our first downs, we’ll be able to put ourselves in much better situations.”

Not only will the first-down plays get BC in an early groove, but they will also help prevent the dangerously long third downs the Eagles have constantly faced.

“The hard thing is, you’re in third-and-10 and the offensive coordinator is put into a situation where he has to call a pass play – and our conversions in the two-minute drill were good, but obviously the defense knows you’ll be passing the ball in that situation,” Rettig said. “We’ve got to do a better job of controlling our down and distance.”

Rettig noted that an improved running game would make life a lot easier on first-down.

“I read some stat that our average third down before the two-minute drive was like 10 or 11 yards out,” Rettig said. “We can definitely make it easier on ourselves. If we’re going to run the ball on first down it needs to be for three or four yards, and then a play-action or anything just to get a couple yards to make it easier on yourself when its second-and-long or third-and-long.”

When the Eagles run on an initial first-down this season, they’ve averaged 3.77 yards per rush, which isn’t bad, but that stat is misleading due to some very long runs mixed in with plenty of runs for no gain. They’ve been much better through the air, but now teams are expecting it. The play-action calls are going to be less successful and the gaps that tight end Chris Pantale and wide receiver Alex Amidon have been finding in the middle of the field will start to close.

It will be on running back Andre Williams and the offensive line to keep the defense honest and keep those gaps open with solid gains on first-down. Williams said at this point it’s just going to take execution and discipline.

“We just have to be disciplined and be able to be precise and execute,” Williams said. “We see in every game it’s always the precision and execution that hurts us. If we’re not precise and we can’t execute then we hurt ourselves, but if we can put it together, then like coach Martin says we can score 30 or 40 points.”

That execution and discipline will be most important on BC’s very first play of each possession. If the Eagles can find success there, then that 30 or 40-point performance won’t seem so out of reach.