Fasten Your Seatbelts
Aug 31, 2013
There's a new burst of energy throughout Boston College football this year, and it's easy to find the source of all of the rekindled enthusiasm: first year head coach Steve Addazio.
"Fasten your seat belts," warned Director of Athletics Brad Bates as he introduced the 54-year-old Addazio to the New England media last December 4.
Bates was not kidding.
Addazio, the former head coach at Temple who gained his mentoring experience at such college football capitals as University of Florida and Notre Dame, hit the ground running in Chestnut Hill and wasted no time in launching a revitalization of an Eagle football program that had been on a downward trajectory in recent years. He revamped and energized BC's recruiting efforts; made numerous media and alumni appearances; rearranged practice and team dining schedules; and has set a tough standard of accountability for his players and coaches - albeit one that is tempered by a family-like atmosphere within the Eagle football program.
"Honestly, I think you just have to be who you are," Addazio said after a recent pre-season practice session. "I am not trying to be anything I am not, or trying to do anything differently. I have been this way for my whole career, and I think who I am probably fits with what this [program] needs a little bit.
"We need a little juice; we need a little energy, a little enthusiasm," Addazio said after addressing his Eagle team about the need for every player to do his job - on and off the field. "Now that's probably not going to win you any football games, but that's a piece of it. That's something we want to get done.
"We want to play with passion, with great energy," he said. "We want to build a good foundation. You want to win every game you play - that goes without saying - but what is most important now is getting that good foundation to move forward."
Addazio is stressing the need for accountability to his players. "Everybody has a role in building that foundation. Any good team, any good organization, any successful military unit knows that it is all about accountability," he said, "being able to depend on the guy next to you to do his job. Otherwise, it is hard to function."
In assembling his coaching staff for the 2013 campaign, Addazio sought a mixture of proven veterans and enthusiastic young assistants to bring his message to the players. "The head guy sets the tone and you've got to be on board," noted defensive coordinator Don Brown, a former head coach at Northeastern and University of Massachusetts who has been in the college coaching profession for some 32 years. "As a staff, we are all on the same page. We know what the boss wants and we are going to give it to him.
"I think all of the players understand that too," Brown added. "We are all responding as best we can."
One of the new wrinkles in Addazio's structure is the institution of morning practices throughout the season - a new trend in college football. "You have to control the four-hour [practice and preparation] block allowed by NCAA rules," Addazio explained. "Just think, if you have been up since 7 a.m. and working hard in the classroom all day and then come to practice, you're tired. Then maybe you get out of practice and have to pick up a bag lunch and head to another class or study hall? That's a grind. You might have a 300-pound guy who has just given you everything he has for four hours and he's got to get a `to go' box lunch and run off to class. It's our job to do everything we can to maximize our players. My goal is to make it as great an experience as we can for the players - and then ask them to go perform, whether it's in the classroom or on the football field," Addazio said. "Boston College is hard. You have to put forth a great effort. I just think that this gives us a better opportunity to handle both."
Addazio noted that the morning practice routine was a big hit a Temple. "By Wednesday morning at 10:30 or 11 o'clock the real physical part of the week is over, and the players will have that much more recovery time before Saturday. There are reasons why people are going to this."
Addazio has also instituted a "family meal" philosophy for his team. During pre-season camp, the team went together to various local restaurants for a Sunday evening dinner. In the regular season, all players will join the coaching staff and their families for a sit-down dinner on campus. "We'll even say a prayer together," Addazzio added. "It's all to create a `home' atmosphere."
Anticipating the future success of Boston College football, Addazio also plans to have team "victory dinners" after wins. "When we win, we are going to celebrate that win," he said. "We are not just going to have another hamburger, we are going to have a nice `victory meal.'
"Winning is special and we are going to celebrate that," Addazio said.
Chefs in the Boston College Dining Service are hereby placed on notice to order plenty of steaks for the fall.