Addazio, BC pushing after early success

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
4:00
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You better believe that Steve Addazio has pointed to the recent champion in his backyard as an example for Boston College. The Red Sox embraced everything the Eagles coach has been preaching to his own players, from the minimal personnel turnover to the internal soul-searching to, ultimately, a rapid rise back to the top.

"To me that's a team a year ago that wasn't headed in the right direction," Addazio told ESPN.com. "Now, one year later, they win the World Series. It's because they became a team, and they brought the best out of each other and there was great chemistry and there was unselfishness. And here, I want to have that kind of team."

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesSteve Addazio has Boston College inching closer to a bowl bid and has a signature win over Virginia Tech.
Save for maybe Gus Malzahn's work at Auburn, Addazio's reclamation project in Chestnut Hill has been as big of a surprise as any among new regimes. Boston College enters Saturday's game at New Mexico State with a 4-4 record, having already won twice as many games as it did last season.

Addazio made waves across the Northeast this summer, accumulating commitments from a number of elite-level prospects and restoring some promise to a program that had fallen on dark times. But there was still the whole matter of this year's team.

That same outfit that won six total games the last two years? It still had Andre Williams, who might set the school single-season rushing record over these final four (or five) games. It still had Alex Amidon, on the verge of setting a number of program receiving marks. It still had Kasim Edebali, who leads one of the league's best pass-rushing attacks.

All this, and everyone is supposed to get excited about close calls against Florida State and Clemson?

"When we traveled down to UNC I was real concerned," Addazio said of his team's loss two weeks ago at then-one-win North Carolina, adding "Before you know it, it's just human nature to start thinking to yourself, 'Well, we're doing pretty good.'

"Well, last time I checked, football's measured off of wins and losses.”

Nothing he is preaching can be considered innovative for rebuilding programs. It's just that players rarely buy in so soon, and results generally don't show until two or three years down the road.

"He genuinely cares about the students," athletics director Brad Bates said. "I'll give you a really good example. We had a handful of students at the end of last year, shortly after we hired him, who had season-ending surgeries. He's in their hospital rooms, he's calling their parents, he's making sure that their academics are being worked out so that professors are aware that the students are going to be there. … He can be incredibly demanding on [the players] on and off the field because there's that sincerity in what he does."

Addazio called it a simple deal, one he has lived by since his days as a prep coach two decades ago: Coach 'em hard, love 'em hard.

Williams, the ACC's leading rusher, admitted to being taken aback by the barrel-chested, deep-voiced newcomer who was seemingly sticking his nose into everyone's business. But the new coach's intentions became increasingly clear.

"I saw it as a positive, because we were coming from a program that just didn't really have a lot of energy, that didn't really have a lot of pizzazz," Williams said. "I just thought that it was fresh and exciting to see somebody that was willing to get up and raise their voice. I just loved it."

Amidon, 53 yards shy of becoming the program's all-time leading receiver, was struck by Addazio's enthusiasm upon meeting him. Still, Amidon wondered how long it would last.

"But every day," he said, "he gets more and more energetic. He comes into practice every single morning, and I don't know how he does it every morning, more energetic than the day before."

It was evident on the recruiting trail as well. Addazio generated buzz among recruits with the Eagles' #beadude Twitter movement and has hauled in 23 prospects for the 2014 class, more than all but two ACC teams so far.

"It's somewhat surprising in one way, yes," Bates said of the decidedly old school Addazio immersing himself in social media. "… Once he discovers that that is a mechanism by which the students communicate, then he studied it very, very deeply and really looked at it as a way of communicating with these students and using it as a vehicle to get to know them and develop relationships."

Recruits saw the efforts firsthand Saturday when Boston College recorded a signature win over Virginia Tech. The validation was nice for a group that had done everything asked of it, he said, but there is little time to feel good about it.

Addazio knows that, in the grand scheme of things, a footprint is being established. But the program he is running right now remains an all-hands on-deck operation, with every week serving as a "monumental challenge."

"I equate it to like you push the rock up the hill and it comes back a little, and then you re-push it back up a little further and it comes back a little," Addazio said. "And you just keep pushing and pushing and pushing and you know there's no doubt in your mind that you'll get the rock over the top.

"But for me to sit here and say that there's not going to be more peaks and valleys along the way as we're working at putting this thing back together, I know there will be. And as wonderful as Saturday was, here we are. We're right back at it."

Matt Fortuna | email

College Football

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