COLUMN: Bates Has His Man In Addazio
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Almost two days and one passionate wrecking ball of a press conference later, I’m starting to drink the “Vitamin Water.” I’ll at least have a cup.
Steve Addazio, known to his former Florida Gator players as “Vitamin Addazio,” is taking over for Frank Spaziani as the head football coach of Boston College. The difference in the Barber Room was stunning yesterday afternoon. I was warned beforehand to be ready. I was told by other members of the media that I’ve never seen anything like this guy. I didn’t listen, and I was wrong.
Two minutes into his speech, I began to rethink my idea from the night before that athletic director Brad Bates had made an underwhelming hire. I hadn’t been in the room for a pregame speech since my senior year of high school, but this really brought me back.
Five minutes into his speech, he had me ready to get up and run a mile for him.
“I’m here for the long haul, and I’m here to win championships,” he said.
That’s bold, I thought, but I’ll buy it.
Words can only go so far, but his words showed quickly that he sounds like the perfect fit for BC. It will take nine months until he can prove it on the field, but Bates found a great match for the values that the athletic department and the school hold.
And then 10 minutes into his speech, I was ready to lineup in the backfield against the Alabama defense and do everything I could to try to gain a few yards if he was on the sideline yelling instructions.
More importantly, it wasn’t just me. Rising seniors and leaders of the 2013 team Chase Rettig, Steele Divitto, Kasim Edebali, and Bobby Swigert had all picked up on that intensity after less than an hour with the coach. Both Divitto and Swigert said they wanted more enthusiasm and engagement from the new head coach when Spaziani was fired. Addazio brings that and more.
But, still, so far it’s only words. He had proven success in the Mid-Atlantic Conference with Temple, but then stumbled through his first year in the Big East. He helped lead the Florida offense to two national championships, but he had that ridiculous SEC talent on his side. Whether or not his past success will transfer over to BC will show with time, but so far he’s doing all the right things.
He said that these players are about to face the toughest offseason they’ve ever had. That includes the winter, the spring, and the summer. He’s demanding the ultimate sacrifice from his players, and it sounds like they are ready to buy in.
He’s also bringing former wide receivers coach Ryan Day back to BC as the new offensive coordinator. He could have pursued a more ambitious hire, but he’s going with someone he knows, someone he’s excited about, and someone who is respected as an up-and-comer. Under different circumstances, Doug Martin deserved to return, but a new coach means new blood and, at least for Rettig and the rest of the offensive players, there will be some familiarity with Day, who shouldn’t be judged by his time under Spaziani.
That ultra-conservative regime is out, and Addazio’s new enthusiasm is in. Day deserves a chance to prove himself as a play-caller, just like Addazio deserves the chance to prove himself on the field. The system will be based on players on the roster, and that’s great news for this offense. Day will likely implement successful aspects of Martin’s game, like the quick routes and the delayed screens, while also focusing on tough running between the tackles.
Addazio said he’s focused on creating a balance between the run and the pass, something the offense lacked all of last season. That’s the perfect place to start. He’s a proven offensive-line coach, and his energy will be infectious with recruiting in the area. The running game and “O-Line U” might not return immediately, but he’s shown that he has the tools to make it happen.
The first day is always just about words, and Addazio didn’t miss a mark. The next nine months will be about actions, and if he’s as successful there as he was on his first day, then this program is, finally, ready to turn the page.