As Boston College begins its search for a new head football coach after firing Steve Addazio Sunday, athletic director Martin Jarmond made it clear that the program was far from reaching its potential and its next leader would be tasked with actualizing Jarmond’s vision for one that’s constantly progressing.
Jarmond referenced BC’s capital program, dubbed “Greater Heights,” as an analogy for athletics wanting to achieve more.
“You saw that last year, where we were in the top 25,” Jarmond said. “One of our strategic goals and our strategic plans was to be a top 25 football program. That’s a goal that I feel strongly about. You saw that last year when we got back into the top 25. We were competitive.
“So that, I think, is really important to understand what we can be. We’ve got a great, rich tradition. We’ve done it before. Sometimes you’ve got to look at your past to see what you can do. And I know we can do that. I think we have a lot of talent, we have a lot of potential, and I think we’ve got to maximize that.”
Jarmond listed the qualities he’s looking for in Addazio’s replacement.
“We want a person of high integrity,” Jarmond said. “We want a leader, someone who understands Boston College. We have a wonderful opportunity here. Our Catholic Jesuit values — men, women, for others — it has to be someone that understands us. We’re proud of that.
“We have a rich tradition and history. A lot of guys have done really well that came in this program. We want to build on that, someone that understands that.
“A teacher, someone that’s passionate to teach the game and teach the skills that they need for life. And someone that wins. We want to win. We want to be competitive. We talk about competitive excellence, and that’s something we’re going to look for.”
“I think if you make a decision, you need to act decisively,” Jarmond said. “I don’t think it helps anyone to delay a decision on either side. I don’t think it’s fair to whoever that coach or that staff is and I don’t think it’s fair to the institution.
“When you make your mind up, I think you need to act, so I wanted to do that as quickly as we could to move forward, because I think it’s really important to get in the marketplace when you can, when you know you’re going to make a change and start that process.”
The season was marred by inconsistency and inexcusable losses. The Eagles went 4-4 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, making them 22-34 against the ACC in Addazio’s seven-year run. Under Addazio, they were unable to break through against the nation’s top-tier teams, losing 18 of 20 games against top 25 opponents.
Jarmond made the recommendation to BC president William Leahy to go in a different direction.
“We look at the whole body of work,” Jarmond said. “So we evaluate throughout the year. But I started talking to Father Leahy at the end of the season and we connected and 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.”
Addazio was fired a year after BC extended his contract through 2022. Jarmond said there were no specific checkpoints Addazio had to meet to guarantee his job security through the season.
“Whenever a coach, specifically football, has less than four years, you really want to make sure they have that continuity because they’re recruiting a four-year class,” Jarmond said. “So you’re in a position where you need to either make a change or extend. And I felt really good about the progress we were making last year.”
While he couldn’t pin down a time frame for the hire, Jarmond said ideally he would like to have a coach in place by National Signing Day, Dec. 18.
“I think with every one of your programs, you always try to have a list in mind or characteristics of the job that you feel are really important,” Jarmond said. “Specifically, with football, you do watch a lot of football, but usually, in season you’re so focused and locked in on your current team and your current staff and what you can do to help them be successful.
“So it’s not something that you’re looking at all the time, but it’s always in the back of your mind. As an AD, you want to be prepared in case something happens, a coach leaves, you have to make a change.
“So you always have a list or you have people that you’re watching, but most importantly it’s the characteristics. Who’s out there that demonstrates the characteristics that really fit where we are and what we need to move forward.”
The Eagles are still waiting to see which bowl they will be invited to. In the meantime, receivers coach Rich Gunnell will serve as interim head coach. He will not, however, interview for the head coaching position.
“As a prideful, proud BC man, I’m just going to continue to preach what we’re all about,” Gunnell said. “That’s toughness and faith and all those good things and high-character guys.
“I’m just focused on winning this game. That’s the most important thing right now. Keeping these kids together.”
We’ve got great kids in that locker room. 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.”
While Addazio’s tenure hit a ceiling, he was able to establish some stability after a dark period prior to his arrival. Jarmond insisted that he didn’t expect the program to regress as a side effect of the coaching change.
“We’re not taking a step back,” Jarmond said. “This is all about taking a step forward. This is a solid foundation. If you look at our team, we have a lot coming back, a lot of talent coming back. This is a launchpad now.
“I look at momentum. I look at energy. I look at progress. Are we progressing? If you’re not progressing, you’re either stalling or you’re moving back, and we want to move forward.
“This is not something that is a rebuild. This is a retool to go for greater heights.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.