Hafley Hired, Hope Restored

Mike Giblin

It’s been awhile since I shared any of my thoughts on BC football. A lot has happened since BC beat Pitt 23-16 on the last day of November. Daz was fired, a nearly two-week coaching search filled with all sorts of legitimate and nonsensical rumors commenced, and Martin Jarmond hired Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to become the next head football coach, sending BC fans into an enthusiastic craze. I’m going to break this up and just give you my general thoughts on a host of different subjects.

The Addazio Firing

If you’ve read any of my thoughts over the last few years, you know I wanted the Head Dude gone for some time. After BC beat Pitt, became bowl eligible and Martin Jarmond gave Addazio a smile and a handshake, I was petrified. Could we really keep Addazio after another lackluster, mediocre season? Luckily, Jarmond didn’t make us wait too long with the Addazio firing leaked late Sunday and an official presser Monday AM. BC fans rejoiced. The media response… was mixed.

A good host of analysts approved of the move noting Addazio’s ordinary overall record and pathetic record against P5 and ranked teams. Meanwhile, another contingent was “surprised” at the move and couldn’t believe BC would fire a coach who got a “lowly” program to six bowls in seven years. They ignored all the evidence of Addazio’s inept coaching abilities and disregarded anything that showed BC’s historical track record actually being better than the Daz era. It just goes to show you how much recency bias creeps into the general sports media’s thinking.

Jarmond made the move that needed to be made. It lead to a nearly two week search that had all sorts of ups and downs.

The Wild And Crazy Search

There were tons of names mentioned throughout this process. How many were legitimate candidates? No one knows. You had so-called reporters like Mark Blaudschun throw out around 200 names hoping one would hit so he could claim he was right. You had another football coaching search site say Ken Niumatalolo was one of the top choices the afternoon on the day our eventual head coach was hired. It was all over the place on rumors. But there was one consistent theme throughout: Jeff Hafley was a top target for Boston College but it wasn’t going to be a simple offer and acceptance.

One thing that Jeff Hafley had that no other candidate did was Ryan Day’s support and intel. Being a former BC assistant, Day knows the deal at BC inside-out. He knows the pros. And he knows the cons. Day could arm Hafley with the information needed to enter negotiations with a list of things Boston College has to improve to take the next step. What type of stuff? My guess would be the likes of: higher budget for assistant coaches, more support staff like academic advisors, facility improvements beyond the indoor practice facility, etc. These are all things that frankly Boston College should have been improving for years. For a variety of reasons, they’ve never really been addressed.

Well, based off of some a mixture of reports and rumors, this is likely where the process became more lengthy. Martin Jarmond was going to have to convince Fr. Leahy and the Board of Trustees to increase their commitment to Boston College football.

Lucky for BC fans, he succeeded. I’ve praised and criticized Martin Jarmond during his tenure as athletic director but he was always going to be primarily judged on his football and basketball coaching hires. Well, to get Jeff Hafley and a bigger investment and commitment to BC football from Leahy and the Board of Trustees earned Martin Jarmond an A+ grade from me. Bravo.

So What's the Deal with Hafley?

Let me start this section by stating I LOVE this hire. I think it’s a home run and he checks a ton of boxes for me.

First, his coaching ability is top-notch and he’s had success in the pros and college. But his most recent coaching job at Ohio State is why he’s our current head coach. In his sole year at Ohio State as co-defensive coordinator, he helped improve the Buckeyes defense from 72 nationally to 2. That’s no joke. He was nominated for the Broyles Award (top assistant coach in college football) accordingly. His former players in both college and the NFL rave about him, from Darrelle Revis to Richard Sherman saying he’s one of the best at scouting and gameplanning. The guy can flat-out coach.

Second, he’s an awesome recruiter and has proven it at multiple stops in his career. I know, you heard me say the same thing about Addazio but his most noticeable success came at Florida, an easy program to recruit to. Meanwhile, Hafley has been a great recruiter at Ohio State (#3 recruiter this year according to 247) but he also was at Pitt and Rutgers. Seriously, he routinely lured 4-star recruits to Pitt and Rutgers! Being able to recruit at two northeastern schools so successfully is a much bigger deal than recruiting 5-stars to Ohio State.

Third, he’s got some energy and charisma. I’m sure it’s part of why he’s such a great recruiter. I found this clip of his Broyles Award banquet speech to be great. He’s passionate, humble, a bit emotional, and frankly just a guy that you just want to cheer for.

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Make sure to tune-in tomorrow at 9am/et for his introductory press conference or watch the replay. I’m sure we’ll see more of the same.

Finally, he is a young coach on the rise in the industry. Unlike some of our recent hires in both football and basketball, he’s not some retread hire that has fans either asking “who?” or cursing “WTF?”. One of my favorite signs in judging hires is how the fan base of the team we hired the coach from reacts. Are they upset their losing them? Are they happy he’s gone? Are they warning us? Apathetic? When we hired Addazio from Temple, they didn’t really care and Florida fans immediately said “hope you love the dive!”. It proved prophetic. When we hired Don Brown from UConn, they were upset to lose him. When Colorado State hired Addazio last Monday, BC fans laughed at the hire and empathized with Rams fans. When we hired Jeff Hafley, Buckeye faithful were frustrated and upset to lose the coordinator who turned around their defense and had proven to be an ace on the recruiting trail.

If you can’t tell, I’m thrilled with the result of the coaching search. I may have been an anxious, nervous wreck during those two weeks but in the end, Martin Jarmond hired the right man for the job. I have hope for the future of BC football once again.