The Boston College players had just wrapped up a spirited bowl prep practice at the Fish Field House on Saturday when the news they anticipated for became official.
BC athletic director Martin Jarmond named Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley the 36th head coach in program history. Hafley will replace Steve Addazio, who was fired on Dec. 1 after seven seasons.
Hafley, 40, will be introduced along with his wife Gina and children Hope and Leah at a press conference on Monday morning (9) in the Barber Room at the Yawkey Athletic Center.
“Jeff Hafley was someone we targeted from the onset and we could not be happier,” said Jarmond, who was and associate AD at Ohio State (2009-2016) and handled football matters for Big 10 powerbroker Gene Smith.
“Jeff has shown throughout his coaching career he is a tremendous leader with high integrity and a gift for teaching.”
Wide receivers assistant Rich Gunnell will remain as interim head coach for the Eagles (6-6) encounter with No. 21 Cincinnati (10-3) in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field on Jan. 2 in Birmingham, Ala.
Hafley is scheduled to meet with the coaching staff and players following the press conference. Hafley will return to Columbus and resume his duties as the Buckeyes prepare to face reigning national champion Clemson in the FBS semifinals on Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
“I sure I’ll be talking to him soon and that will be great,” said Gunnell. “I would love to introduce myself and welcome him to BC.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about him and I know lot of guys he’s developed that went on to the next level.”
Gunnell is interested in joining the new staff and he has an in with Hafley’s current boss, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. Gunnell was the Eagles’ featured split end from 2006 to 2009 when Day was the wide receivers’ coach under Tom O’Brien.
“I am kind of wait and see and I’m more focused on these kids and winning this bowl game,” said Gunnell. “This is my first time going through something like this and obviously I’d love to stay.
“I’m a BC guy all the way.”
Hafley was a secondary coach and top recruiter at Pittsburgh (2006-2010) and Rutgers (2001) before jumping ranks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-2014), Cleveland Browns (2014-2015) and San Francisco 49ers (2016-2018) as a defensive backfield specialist. One of his pupils at Rutgers was Patriots safety Duron Harmon.
“We are excited to actually meet him and we’ve been hearing about it,” said sophomore cornerback Brandon Sebastian. “I can’t wait to get to work.
“I love working on my craft and he’s a guy that specializes in the secondary and that’s what we need and that’s what we want.”
Quarterback Dennis Grosel is from Willoughby, Ohio, and his friends on the OSU roster reached out with favorable reports on Hafley. Grosel will be a in a leadership position when Hafley begins spring ball in March and hopes to build a rapport with the new staff.
“With the new coach coming in we are expecting a ton of change,” said Grosel. “As a leader and at the forefront of all that change you’ve got to be the connector between the coaches and the players.
“My mindset is being that connector and try to make that transition as smooth as possible.”
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