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Give Jeff Hafley More Time, and Don’t Bring Up Steve Addazio

Can’t believe this needs to be said.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, my fellow BC Interruption writer Grant Salzano posted a doozy of an article: Maybe We Shouldn’t Have Fired Steve Addazio?

The negative reaction was swift, and for good reason. Firing Steve Addazio was the correct choice by a mile and the mess BC is in right now with Hafley does not change that fact. This is coming from someone (myself) who largely was an Addazio defender until his final year or two at Boston College. Here’s a brief description on why it was the right call, and then let’s talk about why Hafley needs more time.

  • On the field, Addazio stagnated. After an impressive first two seasons in which he brought a struggling program back up from the basement, Boston College football went nowhere fast. Addazio’s teams couldn’t break through a middling 7-win threshold for 7 years. He coached one of the greatest defenses in BC history in 2015 to a 3-9 record because of how inept the offense was. And when it looked like the team was finally primed for a breakout in 2018, they collapsed and lost 3 straight games to end the season, making it clear that he was not going to take them to the next level. Though we thank him for saving BC from the gutter in his first two seasons.
  • Off the field, Addazio was an even bigger disaster. He was so obsessed with personal image and drunk with power that allegedly he banned a former player from attending BC games and tried to get them cut from their NFL squad because of negative comments they posted about the BC football team on social media. Conversations I’ve had with people in Boston College athletics gave me the impression he was wildly disliked, abrasive, and antagonistic to other sports programs at BC. Former BC football players largely celebrated his firing on social media. On top of all that, we later heard allegations of racism and verbal abuse from Colorado State staffers once Addazio landed a job there. And that’s just the stuff the public knows about.

Jeff Hafley, at least from what I can tell, is an infinitely better human being. You can tell he really cares about this program, loves the Boston College brand, and shares the love across BC athletics. He never blames his guys for a loss and always shoulders it 100% on himself, striving to be better. But what will it take to be better?

Hafley seems to be in over his head right now. Roster construction has slipped away from him in a way that makes it painfully obvious that he is a first-time head coach. Huge turnover on the offensive line would be a problem for any team, but Boston College has been absolutely incapacitated by it. The offense, which has above average players at skill positions, can’t function because of how bad the OL is. Another problem, though less severe, has been BC’s run-stopping struggles. Hafley has focused a lot on constructing his defense to be fast and switchable, but in the process has created a small front 7 that struggles against the run.

These issues would likely have been avoided by a coach with greater experience on how to run an entire football team from the bottom-up. But it does not mean Hafley is a bad coach, it does not mean he should be fired, and it definitely does not mean that we shouldn’t have fired Steve Addazio. It means that Hafley needs more time to get his sea legs.

BC Athletics took a shot at a young up-and-coming coach when they hired Jeff Hafley. The rewards for hiring a rising star come with risks, too! He’s still learning how to be a head coach and it does not all come naturally to him, but you have to believe that his personal competence will prevail and he will figure it out with time.

BC would’ve hired someone else if they wanted a coach that was 100% ready on Day 1. Instead, they hired Hafley for his growth potential. With growth comes growing pains. Bailing on him now would simply be a waste of a good coach, great guy, and someone who is still figuring out what they are truly capable of. Let’s let him figure it out.