It is clear already that the football program has changed at Boston College under the new leadership of Steve Addazio and his coaching staff. It's been amazing that the staff has taken a program that had the 95th ranked recruiting class in 2013, and pulled it up to a Top 25 year in a matter of months. But not until Pete Thamel's article on SI.com, has there been such explicit detail at what Steve Addazio and Co. are doing to change the atmosphere in Chestnut Hill.
In his article entitled "How Steve Addazio is Changing Boston College's Recruiting Culture," Thamel spends a day with the staff in Chestnut Hill. He listens in on the daily recruiting meeting, watches game film with the staff (my favorite was the observation that a recruit moved like a "Robot Bambi", and hung out with the staff as they contacted recruits.He got really in depth with the coaches and got a feel of the energy that they are bringing to the table.
What struck me the most about Addazio's staff was that energy that the staff is putting forth. If anyone has read "Meat Market" by Bruce Feldman, the style is very reminiscent of Ed Orgeron's system that he had at Ole Miss. Full of bravado, cracking jokes, and a healthy level of competition that seemingly was absent during Frank Spaziani's tenure with the Eagles. Addazio is constantly pushing, and asking, and talking to the recruits himself. Hopefully the Addazio tenure doesn't end as poorly as it did for Orgeron, who was let go a year after the book was released.
The article of course talked about Don Brown's creation of #BeADude, and the meaning behind it. Thamel talked about how quickly it took off on social media, and that recruits were really connecting to the spirit behind the message. They talked about how Coach Lempa even joked about trademarking the term before it showed up on t-shirts. BC Athletics should create #BeADude t-shirts for the fans, but that is a whole other post.
The article did a great job of laying out the system that BC is using, which in some ways is similar to other schools, but in other ways varies. On one hand BC has a big board, with at one point 400 recruits on it, laid out in a system based on where the recruit was at it with the school. Very common practice, but of course Addazio adds his own spin with his "Dude" board, which although not explicit, seemed to be the recruits that have committed.
The piece of their gameplan that seems revolutionary is their dedication to the use of social media. True other programs are using Twitter, and Instagram, just look at Joker Phillips at Florida. Yet even though they are mostly a group of men that are in the 50's, they understand how important a tool things like Twitter/Facebook and Vine are in the landscape of recruiting. The coaching staff challenges each other for followers, and coaches like Al Washington are leading the charge on connecting with not only the recruits, but with the fans base in general.
They may not totally get how to completely use it (Coach Lempa referred to a tweet as a twit at on point), but they are still connecting with recruits. It's also refreshing to see Steve Addazio on Vine pointing to posters of B.J. Raji and Mark Herzlich and joking about a lot of dudes that have come to BC. And the effects of this lighthearted yet serious approach are apparent to the recruits as Thamel points out:
"Honestly, I think the whole entire social media thing is hilarious," said Isaac Yiadom, a three-star cornerback from Worcester, Mass., who chose the Eagles over Virginia Tech and UConn in March. "They think of impressive stuff to make those out of.
As BC fans, we all know the monumental task that the staff has to overcome to recreate this winning culture again at BC. One of the more disturbing portions of the article was when Thamel spoke with some of the local coaches. While Don Bosco Prep Coach Greg Toal was guarded about his views on Frank Spaziani, Everett (MA) coaches were much more honest:
I just don't think they were all on the same page," DiBiaso said of BC's former staff. "The whole school, the admissions, football, it just seemed like they were all over the place. This seems like a unified effort to bring football to the point where they want to get it."
But as an Eagles fan this article brought home a point that many BC fans have clung to this entire offseason; this coaching staff is going to do whatever it takes to turn this program around. Addazio is leading the charge, talking to recruits while pumping iron, leading a fiery recruiting meeting, bringing in recruits that live up to the BC legacy, and challenging his coaching staff to excel. And at the end of the day during this part of the year, as BC fans and graduates, isn't that all we can ask for?