(Musings from The Heights, AKA Boston College)
Boston College will begin its fall training camp on Monday.
Football coach Steve Addazio will begin his fourth season running the program. Addazio's first two years produced a pair of 7-6 season and two bowl appearances.
The Eagles tumbled to 3-9 a year ago and were home for the holidays. There wasn't a lot of Christmas cheer in the Addazio home when the subject of football was discussed. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Part of Addazio's angst was created because Addazio knew he had to do more than replace players and recruit new talent. He needed to shake up his coaching staff.
But most importantly, Steve Addazio needed to tweak his attitude. More than a few times during a season which had few offensive highlights, Addazio, always an "in your face'' coach during games, crossed the line. On national television against Notre Dame, he did it twice, which prompted a chat with BC athletic director Brad Bates.
Coaches can get away with a lot when they are 9-3. When you are 3-9, not so much. And at BC, where it is often better to look good than feel good, the leash can be even tighter.
Addazio's first reaction was basic and pure Addazio. He had a contract through 2019 and if BC wanted to make a change, well he would have to be paid off and he could live with that.
But there was a better way, one that some of his close friends suggested he follow. Back off a little bit. Act, shall we say in this Trumpian political season, more presidential.
So during spring practice, which included a major reshuffling of his staff with a new offensive and defensive coordinator, as well as the addition of a coaching mentor, Paul Pasqualoni, Addazio was quieter. He used his whistle less, allowed his coaches to coach more. Addazio watched and listened.
Oh, the fire was still there when he talked, but it was more controlled. Instead of creating fires, Addazio tried to extinguish them if he saw signs of something brewing.
The sense of urgency remains. BC has not won an ACC football game since it beat Syracuse on November 29, 2014. The Eagles' season opener in Dublin, Ireland against Georgia Tech is less than a month away. The losing streak in league competition, which morphed into a winless conference streak in football and basketball, has created a sense of urgency far greater than an opening game.
Addazio knows his job at BC is on the line, as are basketball coach's Jim Christian and AD Bates. The BC administration will tolerate losing to a degree, but the Eagles prime revenue producing sports of football and men's basketball have dropped into the irrelevant category. Losing is one thing. When no one cares, you are in dangerous waters.
Addazio still has the security of a few more years on his contract, but these are players that he recruited. This is HIS team. It could be argued that the success he had in his short stint at Temple and during is first two seasons at BC were with players recruited by former Temple coach Al Golden and former BC coach Frank Spaziani.
This version of the Eagles will have the Addazio brand.
On the surface, Addazio appears to be doing it the right way--or at least a different way. What happens once the games start to count remains the unanswered question. [/membership]