BOSTON (AP) — Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond didn’t want to wait before replacing football coach Steve Addazio, and he isn’t any more patient when it comes to making the program competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A day after firing Addazio, Jarmond said he wouldn’t delay the decision until after the Eagles’ bowl game because of the recruiting calendar and a coaching market that has already seen big names sign elsewhere. Jarmond said he would like to make a hire by the national early signing day on Dec. 18.
He says there’s no reason why the new coach can’t make the Eagles more nationally relevant immediately.
“We're not taking a step back. This is all about moving forward,” Jarmond said Monday, a day after firing Addazio at the end of a 6-6 regular season that was barely good enough to qualify for a bowl game. “This is a launch pad now.”
A former assistant at Notre Dame who was part of the staff of two national championship teams at Florida, Addazio spent seven seasons in Chestnut Hill but could never surpass seven wins. This year, the Eagles lost to Kansas — a 21-point underdog — by 24 points, and needed a win in Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale to reach bowl eligibility.
“I look at momentum. I look at energy. I look at progress. Are we progressing?” Jarmond said. “If you're not progressing, then you're either stalling or you're moving back. And we want to move forward. ... I want a program that's constantly moving forward, pushing it, progressing.”
Jarmond said the next coach will be “someone that understands Boston College,” including the Jesuit values of serving others. He also listed as qualities he is looking for: integrity, leadership and ability to “teach the game but teach the skills that they need for life,” before eventually mentioning “someone that wins.”
“We want to win and we want to be competitive,” Jarmond said. “And we talk about competitive excellence and that's something that we're going to look for.”
Wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell, who played at BC from 2006-09, when the Eagles reached the ACC title game in back-to-back years, will take over on an interim basis and will coach the Eagles in the bowl game. Gunnell will not interview for the long-term job, Jarmond said.
“As a prideful, proud BC man, I'm just going to continue to preach what we're all about,” Gunnell said Monday. “That's toughness and faith and all those good things, and high-character guys. ... We’ve got great kids in that locker room. And just making sure that they're all on the same page with what we're trying to accomplish, and that's winning this bowl game.”
A hockey school that has been slow to embrace its revenue sports, especially during an unprecedented era of success in Boston sports this millennium, BC went almost a decade without making The Associated Press Top 25 before earning a brief appearance last season. It has been 13 years since the Eagles finished in the postseason rankings — the school’s longest drought since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989.
Addazio took over a team that had gone 2-10 in Frank Spaziani’s final year and immediately won seven games. But the expected next step never came: the Eagles won exactly seven games in five of his first seasons. He was given an extension through 2022 last year to calm the fears of recruits, but that was more of a restructuring that wound up paving the way for his departure.
“I felt really good about the progress that we were making last year,” Jarmond said. “We just felt like the trajectory that we were on, I didn't feel like we were making the progress competitively that we needed to. We want to be more competitive in conference and nationally, and I just felt with the total body of work that it was time to make a change.”
Also over the weekend, several former BC players took to social media after Addazio was fired to complain that he had not treated them well since they left the school.
Running back Andre Williams, who ran for more than 2,000 yards for BC in 2013 and played parts of four seasons in the NFL, said on Twitter, “Yo! Can I just tell y'all how happy I am for BC football right now?!” He went on to tell a story about Addazio snubbing him when he returned to campus to be honored.
Josh Keyes, a linebacker who was with five NFL teams over four seasons, said in a post titled “The Full Story: Why I was banned by Steve Addazio” that people from the BC coaching staff tried to get him cut by the Atlanta Falcons after noticing that he liked a Facebook post questioning the direction of the program. When he tried to attend a BC football game, he was told by a football staffer, “Addazio does not want you here,” he said.
Other players defended the coach, including offensive lineman Matt Patchan and running back Myles Willis.
“It is easy to throw stones at someone when they are down,” wrote Patchan, who played for Addazio at Florida and then followed him to BC. “I don’t think anyone has more Addazio stories than me lol. ... But if anyone wants to hear the truth feel free to talk to me. I was there. Passionate guy no doubt but unbiased and fair.”
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25