It’s Time to Part Ways with Addazio: An Open Letter to the Boston College Athletic Department
By Quinn Kelly
**The article that follows has been edited from its original publishing so to better align with the professionalism that WZBC Sports wishes to display in its work. We thank those who supported the original and who support our organization. We hope for your continued support.**
A week ago tomorrow, Boston College marched into Death Valley and gave the second-ranked nationally Clemson Tigers all they could handle for three quarters. In a game that many, if not all, expected to be a blowout for the reigning national champs, the Eagles were able to fight hard in the face of injuries, overwhelming odds, and 85,000 screaming fans adorned in orange. But, in the fourth quarter, the wheels fell off the wagon and Clemson handed BC a 34-7 loss on the back of four late touchdowns. Eagles fans were left with the same hollow feeling that they felt after the Notre Dame loss a week prior: regretting the fact that the words “at least they kept it entertaining for a while” had crept out of their mouth.
But that’s where we’re at. A year removed from breaking a five-game Bowl losing streak, the feeling surrounding this program couldn’t be gloomier. The Eagles head into a game with lowly Central Michigan sporting a 1-3 record, looking ahead at a schedule that seems all but impossible to allow for a .500 record. With games ahead against Virginia and NC State that once seemed like toss-ups, now appearing to be likely losses. Sitting here in year two of feeling as though the gap between us and the class of the ACC is so large that there is no chance that we could pull an upset against Clemson/FSU/Louisville. Another year where you pencil in three losses before the team even steps foot on the field in the fall.
This is coming from one of the most optimistic, rose-lensed viewer of the team out there. Remember, last year I had the team going 8-4 and still firmly believe with a few breaks they could have. But even my optimism ends somewhere, and that was at halftime last Saturday in Clemson. Down for the game, I was chatting over text with a buddy of mine who goes to Clemson, sitting a few rows below me on the press deck. When he texted me at half to express his nerves and frustration with the Tigers, I responded with two texts that perfectly paint the picture of despair surrounding the program. The first, “You’ll run away with it in the second half though, we don’t have the legs.” The second, “Have faith, Addazio is still our coach.”
This text came after watching a first half played with a scared offensive “attack.” After watching Addazio blow opportunity after opportunity to take the lead and really put pressure on Clemson. Sadly, it wasn’t even anger boiling over, it was simply a passive resignation to what has become the reality of this program.
The flame was stoked, though, Sunday morning in a two hour ride to Atlanta to catch a flight home. I had decided after the game that a call for Addazio’s head needed to be made. The ride to Atlanta was spent going over all the failings of Daz with a couple of my colleagues, with each of us riling up the other. We lamented the poor playcalling, the inane penalty take, and laughed about the weekly gift we receive in our emails of the Monday morning Addazio interview transcript. For those of you who don’t get a chance to listen or read, it is consistently the funniest steaming dump of cliches and blame-dodging you could possibly imagine from a coach who fell to 25-30 as coach of the Eagles Saturday, losing his 23rd ACC game in 33 tries. A quote from the ride that really struck me further motivated me to write this piece. One of my colleagues remarked what a shame it is that we’re not in a bigger college football market, because if we were, Addazio wouldn’t get away with any of the crap he does. If more media members sat in the presser and ripped him for his idiotic decisions, he wouldn’t be able to deflect or put down reporters any longer. He wouldn’t get the plethora of softballs lobbed his way before being shuffled out of the presser to safety. So, if you will, allow me to be the hard-hitting, capital-J Journalist that rips Steve Addazio in the way you’ve been begging someone to for three years.
Let’s look at the body of the loss last Saturday in Clemson. Sure, it’s easy to hang your cap on our first strong performance against a top three ACC team since FSU in 2015, but what’s the use in that? Addazio took away every chance the Eagles had to win that game and the chance that they did have was one gained in spite of him.
Daz catches a lot of flak for being too run heavy and refusing to let his QB air it out. But, when you look at the play breakdown Saturday, you see 34/32 splits on the run/pass playcalling. That’s pretty good parity out of Addazio, right? WRONG! Let me break it down for you:
-Mixing run and pass is not in and of itself the most important part of offensive playcalling. Rather, its maintaining an element of unpredictability in your mix, so that the defense can never confidently set up a run or pass defense against you (groundbreaking stuff, I know). If we remove drives that started within two minutes of the end of either the half or the game, the Eagles had 20 first down plays. Of those 20 plays, BC ran it 14 TIMES!!! What savvy playcalling! How many yards did the Eags pick up on those 1st down runs? That’d be 37 yards. 37 yards, or, an average of 2.64 yards per rush. Try mixing in a pass for me one time! I will concede that Anthony Brown was only 2-5 throwing on first down, but, low and behold, one of those passes went for 37 yards to Tommy Sweeney! Amazing what a bit of dimensionality can do for an offense, isn’t it?
-Now, if you weren’t satisfied with the incalculable first down offense BC was running, don’t worry, Daz really turned up the heat on second down. Hey D-line, think you got time to rest after a good hold on first down? NOPE! Lookout, cuz here comes Addazio’s pound the rock/your head against a wall offense back for more on second down, running the ball 9 OUT OF 13 TIMES AFTER RUSHING ON FIRST. But hey now, it certainly didn’t come without some success. BC cashed in for a big first down 1 out of those 9 times! What about the other 8 you ask? Well Steve took the opportunity to get his 3rd down offense some work in against a lowly Clemson opponent, setting up third downs with an average distance of 6.38 YARDS TO GAIN! Nothing screams successful, sustained offense like consistent 3rd and long situations! Got a freshman QB that you’re not confident in airing it out? Might as well make sure he has pressure in his face every time he drops back to pass, right?
-You wanna really breakdown the insanity of his second down playcalling? Well, its perhaps the only thing more predictable than his first down playcalling (save for his mentioning of our rash of injuries and our teams youth at EVERY. FREAKING. PRESSER.). Addazio elected to run the ball on 14 out of 18 second down plays. Think that’s bad? How about the fact that those runs came on 12 of the 16 times the Eagles had 2nd & 6 or longer, and 10 of the 13 times it was 2nd & 7 or longer. As Einstein once put it: insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. Pretty pithy, huh?
So there’s the nuts and bolts of it. There’s your proof that Flat Stanley has more dimension than Addazio’s offense. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at a few specific, blood-boiling instances of Steve’s incompetence.
-Your defense is playing out of their damn minds, and after holding Clemson on their opening two drives, they come up with an interception for you that sets up your offense on the 28 going in. Your offense trots out in front of the Clemson faithful, silent as a funeral, waiting for you to bury their beloved Tigers. And what do you do with all the momentum in the world on your side Daz? You run the ball up the middle TWO STRAIGHT TIMES??? Yeah, that’ll really set the world ablaze. Let’s put our chances of a touchdown on Anthony Brown with seven of the best defenders in the country bearing down on him and eight yards to gain. What could have possibly been the thought process there?
-We had a bit of a Chuck Pagano moment on Saturday and seemed to forget who we were playing. Let me refresh your memory, it was the Clemson Tigers. Ya know, the defending national champion, number 2 team in the country. A team whose fourth-stringers would play over most of your starters. But Addazio thought he could just wait them out, just beat them in a game straight up with no risk taking. I guess that explains why he chose to punt it 5 TIMES INSIDE CLEMSON TERRITORY!!! Nevermind just Clemson territory, he punted from the 39 and the 36! Sure one was on a 4th & 13, but with his defense playing that well, did it really matter if Clemson started at the 30 or the 6? It seems he wanted to leave Clemson with at least a win in the field position battle. At least we’ll have one historic thing to hold onto after the season, after he let Mike Knoll have the greatest game in punting history!
-Speaking of castrating your own offense, don’t think we didn’t notice that little unsportsmanlike conduct penalty you took for us. Oh, doesn’t everyone just love a coach who fights for his team? Instead of a 3rd down try almost at midfield, your little moment of misfiring neurons cost us 15 yards and sent us back to the 34 with a 4th and 25. Tell me Daz, what’s more important, which freakin hashmark the ball is on or beating the #2 team in the country?
-Allow me to reach back a week for this one (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just can’t resist). Don’t let this make you think that there was some lack of error in the Clemson game, this gem from the ND game was simply too egregious to not go in this article. In perhaps the most appalling display of ineptitude that has ever graced the grounds of Alumni Stadium, you chose to run out the clock in the first half of a game against your big brother archrival, with the ball in their territory, in a four-point game. Are you kidding me??? After completely crapping the bed in your home opener against Wake, everyone was expecting the Irish to run train on you. But, you manage to keep the fans in their seats all the way to the half, and treat them to that whimper at the end of the half. So, instead of those 45K, who have packed the house for the first time in 4 years for you, cheering your boys for their gallant effort against a strong Irish team, they got to trot off to a chorus of the loudest boos they’ve heard north of the Mason-Dixon. Really seems like the move of a coach who’s for his players.
That last point is yet another example of Addazio consistently displaying a distrust for his players. Every press conference he has, he talks about how young they are and how he has this asinine idea that he needs to shelter them and how there’s certain things they just can’t do. Could you possibly show more disrespect for your players than that? It amazes me he has control of the locker room.
All of this just goes back to the biggest problem with Steve Addazio. It is what is at the core of his coaching philosophy and it is his biggest flaw. Addazio has in liken terms admitted that he plays each game not to lose. He doesn’t go into games against tough opponents (or any opponents for that matter) trying to win. He just tries not to lose.
This guy had the gall to say in his post-game press conference that they executed their plan to “drag Clemson into the 4th quarter” and had them right where he wanted them. News flash: when your defense has already played 25 minutes before the last quarter starts because you won’t let your offense sustain a drive, they’re not going to have the legs to keep up with a team who has a running back that started the season 4th on the depth chart and now sits 4th on the ACC leading rushers list. Clemson simply outclasses you in both conditioning and depth. So why the hell would you think that you could wait them out??
I said before this game that I hoped Clemson beat us 77-0 and Jarmond Lane Kiffin’ed Addazio and left him standing on the tarmac in Spartanburg. I stand by my feeling that that would have been a better result for the Boston College football program. Instead, Addazio dangles another carrot, momentarily satisfying us with a strong performance against a top team. Don’t let him keep stringing us along. Don’t let that game fool you, and don’t let a win against Central Michigan tomorrow fool you. Five years ago, Steve Addazio came to Chestnut Hill preaching a five year plan. A plan to bring BC back to relevancy and back to the top of the ACC. Well, here we are, five years later. And we are worse off than when Steve arrived. Steve, you have a team full of all your recruits. You have your coordinators. You have had five years to figure it out, and you have not. When you leave this program, God willing within the next year, you will have left it far worse than you found it. Your only successes in these five years have been on the back of Don Brown’s hard work. No Power-5 team is ever more than 3 years from a turn around, but you have done all you can to completely cripple this program. So please, Martin, Father Leahy, or whoever the hell is out there listening, please can Steve Addazio. Throw any amount of money at Don Brown to be the head coach. Steal Bo Pelini from the depths of Youngstown State. Crawl back to friggin Jeff Jags if you have to. Find me literally any warm body and slap a headset on them, cuz it’d be better than what we’re enduring right now. Don’t settle for competing, demand winning. The time for Steve Addazio to run off the plug is over. It’s time to pull the plug.