Boston College will be the first ACC team to open spring practice, one week from today. I had a chance to speak at length with new coach Steve Addazio about a wide variety of topics.
We covered so much ground, I present a few highlights here today. Stay tuned for more from Addazio when the Eagles put the pads on next week.
Now that you have been in place for three months, do you have a better idea of what you want to run schematically when you open spring ball?
SA: What I know right now is work ethic. What I know right now is attitude. I still don’t know that I know who’s capable of what on the football field, so you’ve got to get the pads on. No matter what we do, where we head, the starting point is going to be a two-back, one-back, zone-power counter concept, a real strong pro-style running game, play-action pass, nakeds. That’s going to be a starting point, no matter what direction we ultimately head. You head into Week 1, and you find out if you can rock off the ball, you find out the strength of your backs, you find out about your quarterbacks, your receivers in terms of your play-action passes. Then we’ll be able to tell after the first six practices or so how quickly we’ll migrate more of those shotgun, spread principles and how they’ll come into this offense.
You inherit a team coming off a 2-10 season. How do you deal with going about trying to change the mentality of a program that hasn’t seen its best days the past few years, especially when you have been a part of successful programs at your past few stops?
SA: At Temple, obviously Al (Golden) did a tremendous job of building that program so there was a built-in expectation level and we had to come in and find a way to take that expectation and exceed it, and we were able to do that. At Florida, we came into a similar situation, maybe not to the point of which there was a two, three or four-win team. But to Florida’s standards, it was very similar. Because Florida’s standards, six, seven, eight wins might as well have been two or three wins. I did have the experience of going into Indiana with Gerry DiNardo, which was a complete utter rebuild from every sense of the word, and then when I went to a high school program, and I had to build the thing from Ground Zero. I’ve got to rely on all those experiences together, but I will say this to you: There is a tremendous amount of pride here at Boston College, and rightfully so. This has been a very strong football program, consecutive bowl games that we had been to, eight of them. You talk about first-rounders, you talk about great players, rookies of the year, NFL players of the year, so, OK, we’ve had two down years. We haven’t had 20.
So there’s a lot of pride here and I think a tremendous willingness and buy-in to getting back, realizing we’ve got to do a great job recruiting. We’re working like crazy on that right now. I want to have a legitimate bona fide great recruiting year next year. We’ve got to restock our team. We have to redevelop that winning culture, that winning attitude. We’ve got to come in here, and we’ve got to shock everything right now and that’s what it’s all about. You walk into our building and you walk into that lobby and you’re just a couple years removed from some very good football teams and very good successes. This is not an instantaneous one, now. We’ve got to build this and it’s going to take a little bit of time. This is not just come in and let’s just get going, and turn this and twist that and bam we’re right in it. We’ve got some situations at quarterback where we have more drop-back mentality guys here. We have a depth problem at running back, and at wide receiver, so it’s a combination of things. It’s going to take some time. I want to build this thing the right way, with a great foundation, and get BC back to where BC was.
You mentioned Indiana and some of the other places you’ve been. How would you categorize this in terms of the type of rebuilding process you have ahead?
SA: That’s a good question. There’s similarities -- in a different way -- to Florida when we got there. Because Florida wasn’t where Florida wanted to be at that point in time, but Florida had come off some pretty successful years. Not that far removed from the Spurrier era. So there was a lot of pride. There’s a lot of pride here, whereas at Indiana it was a little bit more removed from the Bill Mallory era. It was a little further removed and it wasn’t as long lasting. Then when I was at Notre Dame, it probably wasn’t all that different, either. We were trying to reignite, re-recruit, restock a program that had success at a high level at one point. There’s similarities in all of them. Our kids here want to win, know they can win, know where this was, know what needs to be done. It’s not like we’re coming in here saying we have to learn how to win. Guys were here when this program was winning. Matt Ryan’s not that far removed. Luke Kuechly just walked out of here. Anthony Castonzo, those guys are not that far removed and they’re always around. I just feel like a sense of, we just have to dig our feet in right now, fight back real hard, give ourselves some time to restock and rebuild. But it’s around the corner, so to speak.
Along those lines, I’m going to ask you the dreaded timetable question. How long will it take before you get back to a bowl and contend for championships?
SA: We’ve got a real goal in front of us right now. The first thing we want to do is look at it like this: We want to win the opener, and then we’ve got to get bowl eligible. Now, I think you’re always looking at building consistency and working toward championships. The first thing we have to do is we’ve got to get back to a bowl.
I never believe in saying, ‘We can’t do this.’ The power of a team is so big when you bring that chemistry together. But we want to get bowl eligible immediately. That’s realistic, as opposed to me saying it’s going to take one year to do this and two years to do that. You just don’t know that. But I want to get bowl eligible right away and our team wants that, our program wants that and that’s where we’re headed right now.