Curtis: Alright, it might be difficult to talk about this game. But what are your biggest takeaways from this blowout against Louisville?
Arthur: I mean it would be that Hafley ain’t it, but we’ve known that. But holy smokes! A team coached by a defensive-minded head coach should not be torched like that! I’ve never seen a team at any level get its DBs absolutely torched like that. It felt like every touchdown was a receiver that got behind the secondary and waltzed in for six.
Curran: The team isn’t good enough. We know that now. For me, the biggest takeaway was that it seems like Hafley has officially lost the team. In his postgame presser, he essentially blamed the players by stressing how all these Louisville massive completions were not a result of scheme but blown coverages. Even more disconcertingly, he talked about how he “didn’t see this coming” because of how good the team looked in practice. He clearly doesn’t have answers, he doesn’t have the ability to resurrect this team, and all signs point to this season continuing exactly how last one did.
Curtis: I’d say the word that best describes this team is “unprepared.” Week after week we are seeing them having bad mistakes, tons of penalties, broken coverages, or something else. There is no excuse to give up this many points against a Louisville team that could only score 21 against Indiana a week ago. And there never seem to be any good explanations from Hafley. After the debacle of last year, it looks like it’s going to carry over into 2023 with few signs of improvement. They have a very easy schedule from here on out, so maybe they can string together some momentum at some point, but it’s not looking likely so far.
Niraj: Just confirming what we’ve all been thinking, Hafley is lost. It genuinely seems as though the defense is regressing, and like Arthur said I have no idea how he can allow that sort of coverage, or lack thereof. He says the guys just lost their one-on-ones, well then they really shouldn’t be placed in that sort of position if he actually understood his personnel. Nothing seems to have changed either. Penalties would have been worse in a competitive match, and they still weren’t great. The offense put up points in the end, but it took far too long to get going. I’m not giving you kudos when you’re already down 28.
Arthur: Yeah I think Hafley undersold it. It’s not that they lost their one-on-ones. They weren’t even remotely competitive. The Cards scored at will.
Niraj: Just embarrassing. I still can’t process the Louisville lineman doing a cartwheel when they were up big early.
Curran: It’s just frustrating. It seems like Hafley has no idea of how to coach his own team. This is year four, and these are all his players. Yet every week it seems like he offers fewer and fewer answers because he just doesn’t know what to do. Something I think is telling: after the awful Holy Cross game, he promises less penalties — and yet against FSU the next week we commit a program record 18 of them. Then, after FSU, he says the players can’t wait to get back out there and build on the momentum. Instead they come out flat and go down 28-0 in less than a half.
Arthur: I just don’t think there are any excuses anymore. Steve Addazio would create some. Hafley strikes me as someone a little more honest with the media. But I just don’t think he can figure out the problem which quite frankly seems to be him.
Kieran: I don’t want to reiterate what’s already been said, but I’m thinking exactly what y’all are. This season will probably be a wash, and Hafley will probably be fired at some point. The sooner that happens, the better it would be for the program just because of the effects it could have on recruiting. I think it’s time to start looking forward and identifying players who could be on the next good BC football team, and identifying positions of need (which is probably every single one). Time for some coaches to start hitting the recruiting trail with urgency.
Curtis: We all know that BC has a cautious approach when it comes to coaching changes, and athletic director Blake James seems to have been handpicked by the administration as someone who shares that vision. Do we think Hafley could actually be fired at the end of the season? Or sooner? I think if things continue on this path and they only win 3 or 4 games, I could see it as a legitimate possibility. 5-6 wins and things start to get dicey, despite the easy schedule, because of how conservative the administration can be.
Niraj: I think we’re looking at a November timeframe and that’s fine by me. It is too aggressive to do something now even if he is clearly a dead man walking. I would like to have someone new in place by December 1. Blake James has to get the ball rolling internally as early as possible to jump on someone.
Arthur: So one thing I heard a lot when I covered the hoops beat all those moons ago is that rival programs prey on instability. So if there is a team where it doesn’t look like the coach is going to stick around, other teams going after the same recruit pounce on it. What that means practically I don’t know, but BC absolutely cannot wait to make a decision.
Curtis: Yeah, this situation could get a lot worse if they delay the inevitable. Is there anything really left to prove if Hafley has another disaster season? BC will only be hurting themselves if they can’t make the change before things get even worse.
If they want to give him the full 12 games then I don’t really have a problem with it. The coaching candidates will still be there, especially if Holy Cross is in the FCS playoffs again ;) But if he’s here beyond that, barring a major turnaround this season, I would be very concerned. Any names you want to float out there now as potential future hires?
Curran: BC is not the type of school who can swing on a fast-rising coach often and miss. Unfortunately, we took a big swing on Hafley and missed. The next coach is not gonna be Dan Mullen or Bill O’Brien; it’s just unrealistic. Hafley’s successor needs to have head coaching experience in my opinion. Hafley has taken a consistent 6-7 win team and derailed them, and to counteract that we need someone with some level of experience. Personally, I want Holy Cross head coach Bob Chesney — he has head coaching experience (even if it is at the FCS level), he wouldn’t be hugely expensive, he is proven at building programs — essentially the best BC can do at mixing a proven commodity with upside.
Curtis: I’m on the same page as you for this one. Chesney would be #1 pick at this point in time, though admittedly I haven’t done much research yet. He has a long track record of program building in New England and knows how to install a winning culture. He is a responsible veteran coach who will get the most out of his players, even if it does take him time to acclimate to the FBS level. Most importantly, he has that managerial head coach experience and has transformed the Holy Cross program from the ground up with a level of demonstrated competence. He’s basically the polar opposite of Jeff Hafley, who was a risky hire based on upside, never having been a head coach before.
Arthur: Steve Addazio. Now that everyone is in the comments section, yeah Chesney is the move. I’ll also throw out Joe Moorhead as an option. He struggled a bit at Mississippi State but I think he’d have a chance at success at a place like BC. He’d have a similar pitch here that he did at Fordham.