In his introductory press conference, Jeff Hafley, in two words, crushed it. By the looks of it, there were a lot of smiling faces and a general aura of positivity and optimism (shockingly resembling BC Twitter right now). One media member even made it a point to mention how very rarely a Boston College hire has elicited such a positive response. We’re the best, aren’t we? But to the community, the students, and the team, “get in” is the message he wants to send.
Hafley considers himself more than just a football coach. Having been around some of the best minds in the game, from Chip Kelly to Kyle Shanahan, he knows there’s more to it that just wins and losses, especially in college. He views himself as a leader, someone who emphasizes relationships with people, not just on-field results. He’s a teacher and a culture-builder that prides himself on that part of the job.
One of the best bits of news was something he also discussed at the Broyles Award ceremony. He was open and honest. He did not think he was going to return to college before he accepted Ryan Day’s offer to coach defense at Ohio State, and he didn’t plan to leave him after a season either. Coach Hafley had a plan, and that plan didn’t involve Boston College because he thought he’d be an NFL guy. But something changed that. When a OSU player told his team this season that Jeff Hafley changed his life, it all started to come together. Hafley seems to cherish building relationships, nurturing, and changing lives, and college football can bring that to the forefront. You can see how happy he was to mention how Dion Lewis, the NFL running back he recruited to Pitt over a decade ago and wasn’t even on his side of the ball, reached out to tell him how excited he was for Coach. That’s what he’s trying to build here. He wants to make a real impact. That’s awesome.
Hafley spoke of a chip on his shoulder. He carries around a list in his wallet of everything doubters have ever said to him. Acknowledging he isn’t someone who looks like they played big-time football, Hafley’s credits the hard-work and door-kicking that brought him to where he is today.
And he’s looking to reach new heights too, to bring us back to a top-25 program and channel the ghosts of Fluties and Matts of the not-so-distant past. I loved hearing Martin Jarmond even mention how important Matt Hasselbeck, Jocelyn Gates, and Father Jack Butler were to this search. It just signifies how deep this hiring process went. Jarmond had previously discussed how so many folks reached out to offer their input on what to look for in a good head coach, including Brian Flores. This community runs deep, and for Hafley to emerge from the pack says much more about him.
To the team, he only wants three things from them. Be tough, love, and compete. That’s the message he left them with as he goes back to coach Ohio State through the College Football Playoff. And rightly so. He’s looking to finish something he started and win a championship. He was asked how it felt essentially juggling between two of the most important moments of his career to date, but he just sees it as a blessing, and he can’t wait to get started.
Also, his family is adorable.
Welcome to the Heights, Coach Hafley!