BOSTON (AP) — For a guy who’s never been the head coach of a ranked team before, Steve Addazio knew just what to say.
The Boston College coach didn’t want to talk about the Eagles’ elevation to No. 23 in The Associated Press Top 25 this week, sticking with his belief that it is too early in the season to be worried about such things.
“Hey, listen: It’s better than the alternative,” Addazio said Monday as he turned his attention to this weekend’s game against Purdue. “Those are things that you like to see at the end of the year, then reflect back on it. … It means that so far things have gone well.”
With a 41-34 win in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Wake Forest on Thursday — the Eagles’ third straight game of 40 or more points — BC is undefeated through three games for the first time since Matt Ryan led them to the first of back-to-back conference championship games in 2007.
“Honestly, it’s still not where we want it to be as a start,” said quarterback Anthony Brown, who threw for career highs of 304 yards and five touchdowns against the Demon Deacons. “We’re still pushing to make history at this school. And that starts with just preparing for Purdue this week and trying to execute enough to get to 4-0.”
Addazio has worked at top-tier football schools as an assistant, including serving as an assistant on the Florida staff when the Gators won a pair of national championships, then as the head man at Temple from 2011-12.
He came to Chestnut Hill in 2013, taking over a program that was coming off a 2-10 record and leading the Eagles to back-to-back bowl games — both losses — before they went winless in the ACC in 2015. A victory in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl gave hope that he had turned things around, but it wasn’t until the Eagles won five of six games to finish the regular season last year that optimism began to really rise in Chestnut Hill.
Now, after victories over overmatched UMass and Holy Cross, the win at Wake Forest made Addazio the head coach of a top 25 team for the first time.
“I definitely think that in the five years I’ve been here, this group of guys is probably the best team I’ve been on,” said linebacker Connor Strachan, who had 15 tackles against Wake Forest. “It’s fun to be around guys like this, that this is their world. They all have the same mindset as you.”
And that mindset, for most, doesn’t include midseason rankings.
“I really haven’t even wasted one second thinking about it,” Addazio said, calling it “just one more distraction.”
“I think our guys are wired pretty good. They know that’s like Kool-Aid, don’t drink that now. Just go about your business,” he said. “They’ve been through the meat grinder, this team. … These seniors know where they’ve come from, what they’ve gone through, what the focus is.”
Addazio said the coaches did not mention the rankings to the team Monday — even to tell the players to ignore them. He did acknowledge they could have a benefit if it gets the fan base excited about a program that has suffered from a lack of enthusiasm.
Running back A.J. Dillon said that can be big for the team and the school itself.
“We always talk about representing ourselves, our families, and the university,” said Dillon, who is an early Heisman Trophy contender after running for 432 yards and four touchdowns in about seven quarters. “It’s kind of a great feeling to know we’re doing well, we’re shining a light on them.”