One of Boston College football’s most complete performances of the season—a 26-19 win over Pittsburgh that made the Eagles bowl-eligible for the sixth time in the last seven years—still wasn’t enough to save head coach Steve Addazio’s job.
According to a statement released by athletics director Martin Jarmond on BCEagles.com Sunday afternoon, Addazio has been fired, bringing his seven-year BC tenure to an end. Wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell, who played for the program from 2006 to 2009, will serve as interim head coach while the Eagles conduct the replacement search.
“I made a recommendation to Father Leahy to make a change in the leadership of our football program and he accepted my recommendation,” said Jarmond in the statement. “We thank Steve for his leadership on and off the field in guiding our football program the last seven years. He inherited a program that had a down stretch and led us to six bowl games while recruiting high-character student-athletes that represented BC the right way. Our student-athletes have been pillars of the community and in the classroom and that’s a credit to Steve and his staff. We wish Steve and his family well and thank him for his tenure in leading our football program.”
Addazio exits with a record of 44-44 at BC, and he led the Eagles to a bowl in six of his seven seasons as head coach. Even so, he failed to notch more than seven wins in any of his years at the helm, had a record of just 22-34 in ACC play, and was just 1-17 against ranked opponents.
Addazio rose to prominence in the FBS coaching ranks thanks to a stint from 2005-2010 with Florida in which he served as an offensive line coach, an assistant head coach, and the offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer. In his time with the Gators, Florida won two national championships (in 2006 and 2008). After Meyer resigned in 2010, Addazio accepted the head coach position at Temple and coached there for two seasons, compiling a 13-11 record before being hired by the Eagles in December 2012.
He inherited a BC team that had gone just 2-10 in 2012, but engineered an immediate turnaround, leading the Eagles to a 7-6 record—thanks in large part to Heisman finalist running back Andre Williams, who rushed for 2,177 yards—and an appearance in the Advocare V100 Bowl, where they lost to Arizona.
In his second season at the helm, Addazio engineered the signature moment of his tenure, knocking off then-No. 9 USC, 37-31, in the first annual Red Bandana Game, for his only win against a ranked opponent during his seven seasons. For the second straight season, though, BC finished the regular season 7-5, before losing the Pinstripe Bowl to Penn State, 31-30, on a missed extra point in overtime.
2015 was undoubtedly the worst year the Eagles had under Addazio. Thanks in large part to an anemic offense, BC finished the season 3-9—and 0-8 in the ACC—despite having the third-best defense in the country as determined by Football Outsiders S&P+. The Eagles rebounded in 2016, once again reaching the seven-win mark thanks to a win against Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl—BC’s first win in a bowl game since 2007 and the first (and only) of Addazio’s tenure.
The Eagles started 2017 2-4 but won five of their final six regular-season games after the emergence of AJ Dillon—who is now the program’s all-time leading rusher—despite losing freshman starting quarterback Anthony Brown to a season-ending knee injury in Week 11 against North Carolina State.
Last year—building off that excellent end to the 2017 season—Addazio did manage to lead BC to its first ranking in the AP Poll since the 2008 season, before helping the Eagles earn College GameDay and a primetime contest against No. 2 Clemson for control of the ACC Atlantic Division. But the Eagles lost that game and both of their following two matchups to finish 2018 7-5 (the First Responder Bowl was canceled), and they weren’t able to build on that campaign this fall.
BC finished the 2019 regular season with a 6-6 record and had the best offense by total yards per game of Addazio’s tenure despite losing starting quarterback Anthony Brown to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 6. In the end, though, the high-powered scoring unit was offset by a defense that ended the regular season ranked 125th in the country in yards allowed and 96th in points allowed. For the seventh straight season, the Eagles finished with a .500 or worse record in the ACC, and that evidently wasn’t enough for BC.
In a way, the 2019 numbers are eerily representative of the past seven years under Addazio. The Eagles often had talent, and they excelled at developing players, but they were never able to put together a complete team capable of competing with the best of the ACC. As seven years of failing to reach the eight-win mark indicates, Addazio had clearly reached his ceiling as BC’s head coach, and a change was necessary to help the Eagles take the next step as a program.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor