It’s underdog week at SB Nation, and it falls right smack in the middle of a huge moment for Boston College Athletics. So let’s talk about both things at once.
“Go west, young man” indeed. BC is in the market for a new athletic director, and there are plenty of folks who are miffed at Martin Jarmond for heading to UCLA after three years at the Heights. Yes, people are also angry that he didn’t fire Jim Christian, and while his efforts to “improve the game day atmosphere” by putting a muzzle on the band were well-intentioned... okay, to put it bluntly, that was bad. But on the whole, Martin Jarmond’s tenure at BC is largely looked on in a positive light. The fact that people are mad that he’s leaving is evidence enough of that, and his hire was certainly seen as a positive back when it was announced.
Martin Jarmond’s and Jeff Hafley’s hirings were remarkably similar — both are young, extremely well-regarded up-and-coming professionals in their field, plucked from a major university (both from Ohio State, in fact). And both saw pretty universal excitement among the fan base for their hiring.
We knew when Martin Jarmond was hired that he was a young star in his field, and we know that about Jeff Hafley. Is there any doubt that three years down the road, if Hafley’s brought us a couple seasons in the top 25, that another school with deeper pockets will come calling?
Boston College needs someone who is going to exceed expectations and get hired away. Like it or not, nationally, BC is looked at as one of the smallest fish in the Power 5 pond. Just look at how long Steve Addazio and Jim Christian stuck (and are sticking) around — there’s a reason for that. The national pundits thought it was crazy that Eagles fans wanted Addazio fired. “7-5 is great for you! You should be happy with that! Who do you think you are?? You’re BC!” Until we get a string of successes and change the national narrative, only by beating expectations will BC be at a level where we want to be. And that means someone else will come calling.
And there’s nothing wrong with BC being a jumping off point for successful athletics careers at bigger universities. It goes both ways — a man or woman who finds success at BC and gets hired away just makes the school look more attractive for the next hire. Frankly, it would be good for us to get that stepping stone reputation. The next young, ambitious athletic director or football coach or basketball coach is going to look at Martin Jarmond coming to BC, having a good few years, and getting a big payday at a big state school. They’re going to look at Jeff Hafley, hopefully leading the Eagles to a few big seasons and probably getting a big payday at a bigger school.
And that next big thing is going to think “I can succeed at BC.”
Boston College’s last two major hires were right in the mold of young, successful professionals from power programs who were ready to make a name for themselves. And while Hafley will probably follow Jarmond on the way up and out someday, they both chose BC. If Father Leahy wants the Eagles to stay on the rise, he shouldn’t shy away from someone who might leave after beating expectations — because you can’t change those expectations until you exceed them.