Moving forward after one of the worst football seasons in Boston College history was naturally going to happen quickly.
But on Tuesday, hours before athletic director Brad Bates announced that Steve Addazio would be named the Eagles’ next coach, it started moving at warp speed.
Over nine days, Bates had called NFL owners and coaches, college head coaches and assistants, and commissioners and executive directors, gathering information about the pool of potential candidates to replace Frank Spaziani.
He didn’t meet with Addazio until late in the process.
It wasn’t for lack of interest. Addazio had been on Bates’s list for years, going back to Bates’s days at Miami University and Addazio’s days as an assistant to Urban Meyer on two national championship teams at Florida, and most recently at Temple, where he guided the Owls’ transition from the Mid-American Conference to the Big East.
It was a matter of playing chess with all the schedules of the people Bates was talking to. NFL coaches have games and media commitments. College coaches have bowl games to prepare for and awards to accept.
When Bates and Addazio finally came face-to-face over the weekend, Addazio was more than ready.
“He knew us incredibly well,” Bates said. “He had done his homework. He studied us. It was obvious he was incredibly interested in this job. He is one of the most energized, passionate people I’ve ever been around. His enthusiasm is contagious.”
When the meeting was over, it had rubbed off on Bates, who hurried to complete a six-year agreement with Addazio. He called a team meeting with players at 5 p.m. Tuesday and made the move official with an announcement at Conte Forum minutes before the Eagles basketball team tipped off against Harvard.
His face still fresh and the job as AD still new, Bates knows that this is one of his most important hires, and sees Addazio as someone who can help rebuild a program that went 2-10 last season and that had declined dramatically in four years under Spaziani, who in his four seasons at the helm went 21-29, failing to beat a ranked team.
“You can never predict the future, but at the same time you absolutely look at a coach who can build a foundation for long-term success,” Bates said. “The other part of this, I’ve only been here for six weeks, I’m looking for a partner who I can be joined at the hip with and really strive for excellence in Boston College athletics, and he’s a key leader in this department.”
When Bates fired Spaziani the day after BC’s season-ending loss to North Carolina State, it was expected that the search for a replacement would be swift.
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, and Miami coach Al Golden all were immediately considered candidates.
The coaching carousel already had started whirling, with Dave Doeren leaving Northern Illinois for N.C. State, a quick play by an Atlantic Coast Conference rival.
For Bates, Addazio was the clear choice.
“There are a lot of great coaches out there, but not every great coach is a great fit for Boston College at this point in time,” Bates said. “I really believe that Steve Addazio is a great fit for Boston College right now.”
Bates was cautious not to say he expected longevity out of his hire – “Who can predict the future?” he asked – but noted that Addazio, the 53-year-old Connecticut native, was enthusiastic about building something at BC.
“Continuity is an incredible cohesive force in building team,” Bates said. “Having attrition is disruptive and this team’s had a lot of disruption in terms of that continuity.”
It would seem that by hiring Addazio, who was known for giving speeches with such an energy-drink intensity level that players called the sessions “doses of Vitamin Addazio,” the personality of the program’s leadership has swung to the opposite extreme from Spaziani, who was notoriously unflappable and level-headed.
Temple was the first head-coaching opportunity for Addazio, who was 51 when he was hired.
He won nine games in 2011, the most successful season any coach had in his first year at the school. But the move to the Big East this season was difficult. The Owls went 4-7, 2-5 in the conference.
Addazio will be formally introduced Wednesday, and Bates said he already has begun formulate a plan for the program, including crafting a coaching staff.
“He’ll be a disciplinarian,” Bates said. “He will be incredibly demanding on and off the field, but at the end of the day, the students are going to know he genuinely and sincerely cares about them.”