Laura: Lots of BC fans online are already on the “Fire Hafley” train. What are you guys thinking about if Hafley and the coaching staff after these 2 losses?
Curtis: I think “Fire Hafley” is a bit premature, but I certainly understand the sentiment. Through two weeks, this season has been an absolute disaster. The product on the field, especially the OL play, is absolutely unacceptable. Expectations for Hafley were that he would take BC to the “next level” after Addazio couldn’t break his own ceiling, but 3 years in and Hafley’s team has regressed when it should’ve improved. He had plenty of warning that this OL was going to lose 4/5 starters yet they’ve played like he was completely unprepared, taking down the entire team in the process. It’s clear that Hafley is in a bit over his head as a first-time head coach, and roster construction has slipped away from him in a way that Addazio’s old recruits can no longer cover.
Laura: Yea, even if this season continues to be a disaster and we’re having this discussion in January, I don’t think firing your head coach in week 2 is going to make the season go less poorly.
Niraj: I thought this Jurkovec quote was a bit damning:
"I'd like to practice harder. Try to make it more competitive. Because it seems like we get in the game, and we're just a little bit off. Plays that we're hitting in practice...I mean, I was a little bit off early in the game."— Andy Backstrom (@andybackstrom) September 11, 2022
— BC QB Phil Jurkovec
Arthur: I wonder if he’s losing the locker room.
Curtis: Yeah, not a great quote at all. Sounds like Hafley is not running a top-to-bottom program at all if the players feel like they could go a lot harder in practice. They’ve got to put in the work. It’s more than just getting good quotes out about leadership.
Niraj: Maybe I’m not on the Fire Hafley tomorrow train, but I’m certainly not In. This team has no identity, and unless we see real development somewhere over the course of the season, real proof that they can coach players up, I would cut him loose.
Curtis: I tend to agree with you, Niraj. I think it’s clear that Hafley maybe wasn’t quite ready to become a head coach, at least at the P5 level, and there are a lot of sticking points about this season that need to be addressed if he wants to prove that he can adapt and overcome his deficiencies.
Arthur: To answer the question, firing a coach after week 2 is absurd, but the sentiment is 100% valid. Saturday was absolutely brutal. It was an embarrassment on semi-national television. The offense may be worse than the Troy Flutie/Jeff Smith offense of 2015. Jurk looks lost and he’s certainly not blameless, the running back corps have been neutralized, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is getting involved other than Zay downfield. There is nothing to suggest that there is improvement in the future and that is immensely frustrating. I’m not ready to fire him yet but I’m absolutely tracking who is going to be available in late November.
Curtis: In terms of finding a replacement in November, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m about 90% certain BC won’t fire him even if they end with a 3-9 or 4-8 record.
Joe: Yeah that would be really ill advised for a number of reasons, beyond the fact that he just signed an extension. It would be a bad look, no matter how BC does this year. When you hire a first time coach, you’re hiring a “project”. Sometimes they work out, and sometimes it’s Bob Diaco. Obviously hopefully things improve over the course of this season. But if they don’t, BC has to hope that like Al Skinner and TOB, he can work through a losing season early in his tenure and build past it. It’s pretty depressing to be talking in this way though, after two years ago we were talking about taking that .500 base and building up from there.
Laura: Yea, speaking of that .500 base, how much has your prediction for this year’s record changed since preseason?
Joe: I mean... it’s hard to see 6 wins now, but let’s maybe pump the brakes a bit as we’ve seen teams evolve over the course of the year. That said, it’s pretty obviously not going to be any sort of special season. It’s going to be about cobbling together the six.
Laura: It is in some ways a good challenge for Hafley as a newer head coach - can you get your team back on board when the season starts poorly and the fans and media are full of negativity about your program? Really scrambling for positives here haha.
Joe: Ha, well, you have to be looking for positives otherwise you’re gonna be pretty depressed. Yes, there are challenges to work through here. Let’s look at those positives... he’s a defensive coach, and considered to be a program-building, high-energy guy, and those two things have really manifested themselves through strong defense and improved recruiting.
Managing the offense is obviously where he doesn’t have that experience and we’re going to need to see if that can improve. As I mentioned in my kickoff article, the guys who you might see more pressure on their jobs would be the offensive coordinator and o-line coach, as these are veteran coaches with a long track record.
Laura: It’s almost like having a big social media presence with lots of catchphrases doesn’t actually make a good coach...
Grant: I think things can sort of stabilize if we get any kind of development in the offensive line. The defense wasn’t amazing against VT but it didn’t have that “oh, God, what the hell” moment of agony like the rushing drive against Rutgers to lose the game. Giving up 27 points while losing time of possession badly isn’t good but you figure if the offense was able to hold on to the football a little more then it would have been a bit better. But the OL is where the bulk of our problems lie. How quickly can/will these guys improve? That will determine everything.
Curtis: Not to be a downer, but the OL had an entire offseason to improve to a serviceable level and they just couldn’t get it done. I find it unlikely that they’ll be able to make huge leaps within a few weeks. I think the blame for that falls squarely on Coach Guge, and an option for BC to explore could be firing him and finding a new OL coach that might be able to whip them into shape faster.
Arthur: Yeah, Curtis, I think that’s probably the best way at this point to have any sort of change. The players aren’t changing, but the coaching, which is clearly not up to par, can, and firing the O-Line coach doesn’t have the instability risk that the head coach would. I think Guge needs to show us something or else he needs to be on the chopping block yesterday.
On the time of possession thing, of the Eagles’ fourteen drives, nine ended in a three and out. Of the remaining five drives, one ended in a turnover. Hard to win time of possession if the offense methodically cannot stay on the field. Truthfully I’m surprised the disparity isn’t worse.
Grant: One offseason isn’t a lot, Curtis. Yeah you’d want them to be better than Effing Miserable, obviously. But It’s really not a lot. Having said that I also find it unlikely that they’ll be able to make those leaps in weeks rather than over a full season... so your point stands.
Arthur: That’s the thing though. I think this problem is two-fold. First, BC didn’t have the athletes to be ready for the year. That’s on Hafley. But BC isn’t getting rid of Hafley. The second problem is that the athletes BC had weren’t ready. That’s 100% on the O-Line staff. And yeah, maybe one off-season isn’t enough, but coordinators have been fired for less, and right now the O-Line is so bad it is terminal for the offense. That failure cannot go without some sort of action. At some point, the coaches need to put something on the field based on what they’ve got. They have failed to meet the challenge.
How are you feeling about Hafley after the first two games of the season? Sound off in the comments!