Boston College coach Steve Addazio led the biggest turnaround in the ACC this past season.
So a logical question follows.
What is more difficult: Changing a culture and winning in Year 1, or building on success in Year 2? Addazio says the ability to win in his first season as BC head coach was "monumental." Questions like these do not get asked when you fail to win as a rookie coach.
"We had no confidence, no chemistry, the culture was not right when we got here," Addazio recalled in a recent phone interview. "Winning was monumental. It was maybe the most rewarding year I had in coaching. … It was tough as hell. Rewarding, but very physically and mentally draining. It was tough, but the interesting thing is we had as good a shot to win eight games as anybody."
BC came up just short of that, but did make a bowl and win five more games in 2013 than it did the previous season. Now the next challenge awaits. BC must replace its starting quarterback Chase Rettig and Heisman trophy finalist Andre Williams, while trying to develop skill position players and shore up a porous defense -- all with young players across the lineup.
The Eagles will have the least experienced team in the ACC. BC is set to return nine players who started the bowl game against Arizona, the fewest among all ACC teams.
More than replacing Williams, settling on a quarterback will be an even bigger key because BC wants to shift some of its offensive schemes back to the spread principles that have produced so much success throughout Addazio's career. The Eagles need the right quarterback to be able to get that accomplished, even if it means relying on a fifth-year transfer like Tyler Murphy for just one season.
Addazio knows he will have a young football team, and will have to rely on incoming freshmen from the class he is set to sign Wednesday.
"This is a real interesting year and there's going to be some bumps in it, but you’re going to develop your players and hopefully you get a few key pieces that will be good for you," Addazio said. "All of a sudden you’re moving and gaining momentum."
Will that be enough to outdo what the Eagles accomplished last year? We will have to wait and see.