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Press Conference: Pinstripe Bowl Edition

The Eagles are going bowling in New York! Hear from Daz, Kam Moore, and Jon Baker

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

COACH ADDAZIO: Real exciting day today. Have an opportunity to play in the Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa. Just a great opportunity for our football program, for our fans, for our alumni.

That's our home base footprint for us. Part of our footprint includes New Jersey, New York. It's huge for us in recruiting.

We're playing against an outstanding opponent, a classy organization in Iowa. We have a chance to play in one of the elite bowls. We've been there before and we know what it's like.

Randy Levine, who's in charge of the bowl is one of the class guys in the bowl business right now. His reputation is phenomenal obviously with an elite organization like the Yankees. Mark Holtzman will have direct contact as the person that actually runs the day to day of the bowl, and those guys are phenomenal.

They're great guys. They love sports. They love New York. They love football and they love Boston College. And so we couldn't be more thrilled and more happy to be playing in this bowl.

Our kids right along, if you asked our kids, they'd tell you, where do you want to be? They'd say we want to be in New York and play in the Pinstripe Bowl. I don't know that there's anything better than being in New York that time of year. To me, doesn't get any better at that time, New York at Christmastime. You're talking about playing in one of the storied, great venues. We've had a chance to play in a couple of them. And that's so exciting.

I'm sure, like a couple of years ago, this would be one of the hottest tickets in the bowl season and will become an electric atmosphere in that stadium. I know our fans will be really, really excited, our alums to have a chance in their backyard to be able to go watch their college football team to play against another great college football team in Yankee Stadium.

All of this is simply fantastic. You look at our team, the makeup of our team, we've got so many guys from the area, so many in recruiting. It's so huge to us. And guys that are in our program, guys coming into our program are a huge makeup of our football team.

We're anxious. We've had a couple of practices. We're anxious to keep going here and just keep getting ready for this, developing our football team and getting ready for this opportunity.

You know, we're one of two football programs in Power Five, in the northeast, that are playing in bowl games this winter. And we're proud to be representing northeast football in the Power Five.

It's a great honor for us. And we have so many great players and they love football. They love competing and they couldn't be more excited about this opportunity.

Q. When did you first kind of get an inkling that the Pinstripe Bowl was either on the table or when did you start to -- or when did you start to realize that that was going to be your reality? And how exciting was it as it started to dawn on you?

COACH ADDAZIO: Martin notified me that we were in the Pinstripe, and in my world that's when I say we're in the Pinstripe. I tease Mark Holtzman all the time, I see him, I'm like, we're your team. I start it at the media days, down at the ACC media days because I love Mark. I love Randy. They're great people.

And I just, I don't know, I just feel like it's such a great fit for us. So I'm always thinking about the Pinstripe Bowl. But to tell you the truth, like, when did I really know we had a shot to be in it for real? When I got that phone call.

Otherwise, to me, it's always speculative. There's so many twists and turns that happen in college football right now, you just never know.

But I think if you polled our team, after last Saturday's game, in their minds that's where they wanted to be. And that's where they hoped they'd be. So I'm just thrilled to death that they're going to have that opportunity.

Q. You mentioned Power Five. Does the ACC/Big Ten matchup enhance this to you?

COACH ADDAZIO: Absolutely. You're talking about two great conferences and having a chance to play a great program like Iowa, Kirk Ferentz I've known for a long time, just an established, phenomenal football coach who has built a great football program. That's a prideful, classy football program that's in a proud conference.

And they'll travel and have a big contingency that will be there. And I think I was on the road recruiting all last week. I was actually in that area. And that's all -- every high school I went into, people, all they said was, man, I hope we get to see you guys play Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl. I think you're talking about two hard-nosed, tough football teams that are going to square off in that game.

People in Yankee Stadium, on December 27th, people want to see that game. So that's kind of the feel that I've had and so certainly to represent the ACC, which is the premier conference in America, have it be represented against an elite conference like the Big Ten and play a great matchup opponent, I think everybody's excited about that.

Q. How are you planning on using your 15 practices, team building and then focus on Iowa, or do you have it kind of broken down yet?

COACH ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think, it's going to be -- it's fundamental development and growth and then at a certain point like, for example, this Saturday we'll have a little piece of Iowa in there.

And then the following Monday, we're still finalizing all that right now. We'll put a little bit more piece of Iowa in there. But I'd like to get a solid seven of straight fundamentals -- a lot of individual, a lot of semi group work, a lot of program/player development.

I want the practices to be short. I don't want them to be long. I'd like to keep it in the early stages of never practicing more than two days in a row, because I want the kids never feel like that's drudgery. I want them to feel like we're going to get better. It's going to be short but we're going to improve, keep them as fresh as we can keep them.

Of course, as we get closer, our model here has always been, it's something that I've been a part of for a long time, is you back away from the game. We have a game week, a normal game week, a couple of days off, and then another game week. And so we'll keep that model.

But leading up to that is where I like to keep it. Not more than two days in a row. Practices short. Heavy on the fundamentals and a slow build into Iowa, but don't forget to develop your young players, because one of the greatest things about a bowl is to have a chance to have another spring football practice.

So you want the young guys to continue to be coached hard and developed full time by our staff, and not turning into a 15-whatever practice scheme-athon.

Q. Talk about Jim Reid. He was on Iowa's staff. How does that help you this year?

COACH ADDAZIO: Having Jim Reid helps us just having Jim Reid. In terms of how it pertains to Iowa, I think he gives great clarity to -- he has an unbelievable amount of respect for Kirk Ferentz. He has an unbelievable amount of respect for their program and how it's run and the culture of their program. So, I mean, I think the good news is he was up close and personal with it.

But a lot of us have brushed up against it over the years, and certainly, honestly, have just the utmost respect, but Coach Reid puts real hands-on clarity for that.

And so I think that's where -- and understanding certainly he's been here for two years, so he still has certainly an understanding of, you know, personnel and guys.

But to be clear, I mean, Coach has, from the day he got here, his respect for that football program has been clear and sincere and up front. But he's a BC Eagle and we're going to rock and roll and get ready to play great football against them.

Q. You talked about recruiting from obviously New York area but you go there three years ago. What was the impact of just playing that game in that area in front of those people and how much is it different now, because three years ago you were in your second year on the program, your program was up tick. And took some lumps. (Indiscernible) coming right back. How much is it different now than it was before?

COACH ADDAZIO: The buzz about our football program right now nationally and especially in that area is the best I've ever seen it.

And all I can tell you is what I experienced myself and our coaches on the road. We had a meeting here on Friday, Friday morning, we had a big recruiting weekend. And that was the talk in the staff room about how much buzz there is about our football program, where it is and where it's heading and how electric it's becoming and what the future looks like.

So there was a similar vibe two years ago when we went down there. But I think we had an older team then. And now we've got a mix of some older guys and a lot of young guys.

And I also think that at that time it was an energy level about how well -- maybe just phenomenal how well our BC fans traveled and how they represented Boston College at that game. And a lot of people came away from that game and said, wow, it was really impactful how excited the BC family, the alumni, the fans were about being in New York.

And I think that spring boarded in a lot of people's eyes how well we'll travel and be represented in this game. So I think a lot of things were accomplished there, and I think also that game helped lay the foundation for a lot of the marquee players that we're playing with right now. That's all part of it.

And in our business there are immediate effects but there's also -- it's more two years later, three years later, as those classes, that recruiting class and those classes start to develop and grow, you feel the effects of these things. And the impact of us having the year that we had this year and what the future forecasts is an unbelievable tool to put on display and to continue to build buzz as we roll into New York and play Iowa and get ready for our future. So it's a great scenario. And what a great venue for all that to happen.

Q. Talk about the seniors. (Inaudible.) Is it funny looking back (inaudible)?

COACH ADDAZIO: I think the way I looked at it from the beginning was I always believed in our football program. I think I said that to you guys. I had some commentary that got picked up on, but I always had confidence where we were and where we were headed.

We had to overcome a bunch of adversity is what we had to do with the loss of a lot of players. And the way we handled that spoke to the glue and the foundation of which this thing is built on right now.

So that was always something that was very encouraging to me. When I made the statement it's going to be beautiful, that's really what I was saying even in the face of maybe people looking saying what's this guy talking about because there was a great foundation. And I felt terrific about our players and where we were headed.

And, of course, this is a bottom-line business and it gets reflected in wins and losses. But when you're playing, at that time -- right now we play in the top 12 schedule of America. At that time it was the number two schedule in America. Playing who we were playing on the side of the conference we play on, in the conference we play in, undergoing the injuries that we took on, yeah, I'm real proud of that now.

And I could see, these guys will tell you better than me, they knew it, too. That's why this thing kept -- the glue was really tight. Because the mindset wasn't will it happen, it was just we got to get it happening now. And we're not going to let any of these setbacks get us down.

That's the real mark of a foundation and a chemistry. That's really what it is. And so, I mean, we have a chance right now to go out and get our eighth win. We have a chance right now to get six out of seven. The last time that happened here was 25 years ago.

So, I mean, we haven't done it yet. But what we have done is established what that chemistry is, what that foundation is. And even coming through what we've come through, we played against Syracuse down ten starters. I know everybody doesn't like to hear that, but that's fairly immense. One of them being your quarterback.

But you never saw the energy level, the intensity level or the glue of this football program dip. It didn't happen. In fact a lot of people in the business would tell you during that process we continued in a lot of areas to actually improve. Now, I think that speaks directly to where it is.

So I'm kind of jacked about what we went through, not naive about it, but kind of jacked about it because I think really what it did was make us stronger and really helped the growth of what our future will be, in a different kind of way, do you know what I mean?

To go through that, to pull through that, speak to them, I think gives you a confidence level, gives you a feeling that you can overcome and nothing's going to stop you. And I think that's all part of it.

That stuff in college football is huge. Everybody wants to talk about all this other stuff. They don't understand that. Why do some teams slide at the end of the year? Why do some teams accelerate at the end of the year? Why did we finish the season the least-penalized team in America? Why did all that happen?

That's the real stuff you've got to look at. And so you can tell, am I excited? Yeah, I'm real excited. And we've got a lot of work to do. And we're still going to be -- it's not like we're getting all these players back or anything like that, for this game, but that's okay, it is what it is.

We're going to continue to develop what we need to develop and this is all a building block and a springboard. That's what all of this is. And you've got to keep it in that right mindset, man. Every day we're going to get better every day and attack this thing. You got to have a small picture and a big picture in mind.

Q. You touched on it at the end, a collection of young talent that the national audiences are going to get to see for the first time. How much is this game finishing off '17 getting win number eight with a balance of a springboard for the future?

COACH ADDAZIO: Great. Important. But you know what I've realized? They're all important. Every week, right, how important is this one, oh, my God, it's so important. They're all important. You know what I mean? But I've always also been a believer that one game doesn't make or break you one way or the other. You know what I mean?

We're going to go and do everything in our power and go get our eighth win. But that game is not going to define us where we're going. It's just another opportunity.

And so like that's the way I view this thing. Every one of them is uniquely important, because it's another opportunity to win a football game and to grow.

But what happens sometimes, as you guys know, especially in the media or on TV, every game becomes larger than life. Every game is really important. But larger than life? I don't know about that.

When you lose, you're devastated. When you win, you're joyous, but at the end of the day you keep moving forward, because where you're headed is really, really important.

I like to really -- I think I said this way back when -- I'm a guy that likes to look in the front windshield not rearview mirror. I view this, I'm looking through the front windshield, moving forward right now. And our focus is to go get that win. And that's how we'll prepare and that's what our business will be about.

Q. Last time you were here in New York, does that add any added momentum, added motivation for you and the senior class to come away with a win?

COACH ADDAZIO: Good question. Answer it honestly, right? Sure. Sure. Human nature. We walked away from that game. We felt like we had that game. And that's probably more me than maybe some of the older guys. Some of the other guys weren't here.

But, sure, different day, different year, different team. You know what, yeah. I mean, that was an electric atmosphere and that was disappointing for everybody. We played our tails off in that game. So sure.

Q. AJ Dillon, a local kid you recruited who stayed home had a really dynamic year this year. Can you talk about how his success is going to help you in local recruiting going forward?

COACH ADDAZIO: I mean, it's hard for me to tell you -- it's everything. When you get a great local talent, you build your program inside/out. And when you get a guy to stay home and build a brand and build his platform here in Boston, at Boston College, Jon Baker did that. And a lot of guys have done that and will continue to do that.

We want to attract the very, very finest Division I football players in the state of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and in Connecticut and New Hampshire and New York and New Jersey. When we're hitting it, we're hitting it with a nucleus of guys within our four-hour radius. And of course as you get closer it gets even more significant.

And I think there's nothing better. And I think AJ understood that. I mean talking about, he understood the fact I'm going to get an elite education. Understood the fact that I'm going to play against the very finest competition there is in America. I think he realized he was going to be utilized in an offense that was going to feature a back of the top of the "I" like that. And I think that he also understood that this is one of the largest media markets in the world.

We saw in front of our own eyes when I got here a guy who essentially really came from relatively unknown, and in short, six, seven, eight months became a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, just five years ago.

So I think I love to see young men make great decisions, not decisions based off of things that don't matter, but really matter. So that's a track record for other young men to look at now and say, wow, look at that. Look at what a great decision that was. Look at how successful that was.

So it helps your program in every single way. It helps you in everything you can imagine. Not the least of which is as we want to build our attendance here at Boston College, marquee players, big-time players attract people to want to come into your stadium to watch. That's just the fact.

And there are certain skill positions that, as we all know, lend to that. And they get too much credit. They get too much hype. But at the end of the day people want to come see marquee players.

So I think there's the effect of increasing our attendance. There's the effect of recruiting and the effect of keeping more people around home. And so I think all those things work together. Who will be the next one? You know what I mean? And let's keep getting that done and that's the effect of building your program and it's a process, and it's been a process and we got to keep doing that.

Senior Kamrin Moore

Q. Kam, for you, the opportunity to go with your team into the bowl game and into the venue in New York City, what's that mean to you? And what's that meant in the locker room to the different players?

KAM MOORE: I just think that it will be a great feeling, honestly. Obviously I can't contribute to the team how I really wanted to, but I'm still there, a voice in their head, a coach, leader, whatever they need in order to build them up.

I know guys are ecstatic. Last time we were there it was a vibrant, very lively environment. So I just think that it will be great. It will be great for this program.

Q. After you went down in the NC State game, Hamp Cheevers has really come in and played a big role in the secondary particularly. And other guys have stepped out through the season with all the injuries and stuff like that. Could you talk about what you've seen from your team in terms of responding to injuries, especially Hamp too?

KAM MOORE: Like I always say, no pressure, no diamonds. We have a next-man-up policy. So regardless if I go down, if any other starter goes down, the next man up they have to be ready and have to be prepared.

I think we hold a standard within ourselves within our units to make sure everybody's game-ready always, so if I do go down, like you said, Hamp Cheevers can step up right away and there's no drop off, no dip, no slack in his play.

Q. Talk about the way the defense has played down the stretch getting you in this position.

KAM MOORE: I think we've really learned how to play together. We always talk about how we want to play base defense. Fundamentally sound, that's what we've become. And when you're able to execute basic fundamentals, you're going to be pretty hard to beat.

Q. Did you watch the ACC championship game last night and what motivation do you have been injured going towards next year to try to get to that stage next year?

KAM MOORE: I won't be here next year. But definitely the program, like we've been taking strides. Like Coach said, we look forward, not backwards. So just keep going, keep building, in order to have those goals layer on.

Senior Jon Baker

Q. You probably know Darius better than anybody, talk about how the team has rallied around him the last couple of games and going forward.

JON BAKER: Darius, I've been with him since the first day I came in here. He's a great, great guy. He was always ready. Always sitting there, never got discouraged by his position.

He wanted to help the team. He's been very unselfish. And everybody's kind of got behind him and he's done a great job of fulfilling his role.

Q. Jon, you're a local guy. What's it mean for you to play in a game that's -- it's not local to Boston per se, but it's local to the region in the college football universe -- what's it mean to go play again in New York City?

JON BAKER: I think it means a lot. It's going to be a tough one to not be able to play in. I still remember the end of the last game, the look on the guys' faces and wish I could get back out on that field one more time. But that's not the way it's going to be. So I'll help them in the way I can.

But this game is huge, like Coach Addazio said, it's in our backyard. I can name five players from the team just from the past years that I've been here that are now living in New York City. We've got a ton of recruits, ton of guys on the team today from that area. So it will be a huge, huge game for us.

Q. After the Virginia Tech game, Coach went off on a rant about how it was going to happen and it was going to be beautiful. Just wondering when you heard about that what your reaction to it was, did that fire up the team or did the team need any convincing that he believed in you and did you guys believe in yourself?

JON BAKER: You know, the media is not something we pay attention to always. We know our job. We know where we stand. We're always going to do it. I don't think there was ever any doubt from Coach Addazio about us or us about Coach. We were always together, back to back and ready to go. And we knew it would come together at some point.

Obviously it didn't go the way we planned with all the injuries, but as you can see it did come together and it's been a great, great year.

Q. You've still been hands-on with a lot of guys, how do you take on the task of leading (indiscernible) while not necessarily being on the field?

JON BAKER: It's a lot different. It's tough sometimes to have to sit there and watch. But as a center you're on there, you're identifying, you know, you're making sure everybody is on the right track. To not be out there on the field it's been weird. It's been tough to find ways to still be able to help the team. But that's what I've had to do.

Maybe it's a little extra film or grabbing a guy when I see him do something in practice. But any way I can help the team I'm just happy to.

Q. (Indiscernible) how proud of him are you, and how much have you had to kind of help in that way, too, because you had to keep the (inaudible)?

JON BAKER: I'm incredibly proud of Ben. What he had to do is not something most players can do playing the position as tough as center can be that he's never played before. So having to do that is not something you can ask anybody to do, and they'll be able to do it as well as he can.

All the credit goes to him, I've helped him here and there but he's just, from the first day he got here you could tell he was all about ball. He knew how to conduct himself, how to handle himself, the pressure never got to him. And he's just done an incredible job.

Q. Talked earlier about the last (inaudible). What do you tell people?

JON BAKER: My memories of the game, it was like Kam said, it was electric. Huge crowd, great competition between the two teams. And the end of that game obviously wasn't the way we wanted it to go.

But I think this year the guys, they already know how big of a game it is. It's a huge, great, one of the best bowls there is. And the guys that haven't been there, they'll realize that very quickly, as soon as they get on the site.

Q. I don't know how much of a baseball guy you are but have you ever thought of the unique circumstances playing in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, six weeks apart?

JON BAKER: I'm not a baseball fan much at all. But, yeah, I mean even to somebody who is not a baseball fan that's still a pretty incredible thing, two historic ball parks that most people who play the game will never get to play there.