As I write this, I am on a plane. An international flight out of the United States. Boston College football’s loss to UConn, their first such loss in program history, has broken me to the point where I can no longer even be within the same borders as the team that haunts this waking nightmare. Maybe, across the ocean, they can’t hurt me as badly as they did on Saturday afternoon. Deep down, I know I’ll come back to them. But for now, I take solace in my escape.
Okay, I am being a bit of a jerk here. This trip was planned well in advance of the loss to UConn and I would have been on this flight regardless of the game’s outcome. But it really couldn’t have come at a better time. My interest in the happenings of this football team, as I’m sure is the case for many others, is at an all-time low. Watching them is so miserable, talking about them so tiring, thinking about them so repetitive, that a trip away from the team provides much needed relief.
My coverage of the Boston College football team for the next two weeks will be overseas, predicting blowout losses to Duke and NC State and then watching those losses as condensed games on YouTube. And that’s all they deserve. The 2022 iteration of the Boston College Eagles have disappointed their fans at almost every turn and the loss to UConn only cements their position as one of the worst Eagles football teams in recent (or even long-term) memory. Anyone who spends more than an hour thinking about or watching this team over the next few weeks is giving them way too much credit. We know who they are.
What happened? I wrote before the season that this was a “prove it” year for Jeff Hafley. He had all of his own guys in the system, he had 3 offseasons to assemble his roster the way he wanted through recruiting and the transfer portal, the offensive playmakers leading the charge were all great ACC talent, and the schedule featured many winnable games. But none of it came together. Jurkovec regressed as a QB, Hafley couldn’t find a single starting-caliber offensive lineman in the transfer portal, and the team looks like they’ve run out of effort as soon as they go down by more than one score. All of this went so poorly that I had to revise my opinion and wrote that, actually, Hafley needs more time. But I don’t know if I even believe that anymore.
We knew that he would be a work in progress as a head coach. He’s never been a head coach before and there is a learning curve that comes with the territory. Roster construction, staff management, and full-team game-planning are all things that weren’t going to be 100% ready on Day 1, but could be learned in time. I’m generally a patient fan and was willing to sit idly by while Hafley learned the ropes and worked through these struggles for the first time. He was highly-touted by those that knew him and I was willing to wait for that potential to blossom into some great Boston College football, even if it took a few years.
But where Hafley has truly failed, and what makes me question whether we should wait around for him, is in his ability to motivate the team, steady the ship when things get tough, and demonstrate that his coaching will improve the program over time. These are intangible traits for a coach that do not require prior head coaching experience, but can nonetheless make or break their tenure.
Multiple blowout losses where BC couldn’t even score a TD tells me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes. Being unprepared to face UConn in Year 3 tells me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes. Significant new injuries every week tells me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes. The regression of Phil Jurkovec tells me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes. Poorer performance as Addazio’s players filter out and Hafley’s players filter in tell me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes. Low team morale, both from what’s visible and what I’ve heard from some people close to the program, tells me that Hafley doesn’t have what it takes.
The team just flat out looks much worse than what “head coaching inexperience” can excuse away. They don’t simply look bad, they look absolutely terrible. And they’re not improving as the season progresses.
So what happens from here? Spoiler alert: Jeff Hafley isn’t getting fired before the game against Duke. And he’s not getting fired at the end of this season. That’s not how the Boston College administration handles its business. They will give him at least one more season, if not more, and they will retain him as long as he shows improvement or maintains the status quo from year-to-year. It’s what they did with Addazio, Jim Christian, Erik Johnson, and more. Unless Hafley pisses off the wrong people, or leadership changes at Boston College, that’s how I expect it to go.
As far as a timeline goes, I think Jeff Hafley is fired from Boston College within 3-5 years (just long enough to tank the program before conference realignment), he goes back to a defensive coordinator role somewhere for a few seasons, and then he tries his luck as a head coach once again for some other program. And then he finds great success as a head coach. Because of course. That’s exactly what would make us all angriest, so of course it will happen.
There will still be fun moments and good people involved in this program and within the fanbase in the meantime. So enjoy what you can. And take a trip far, far away when you need to. Lord knows you’ll need to.