New Jersey native becomes the 36th head coach in Boston College history
MARTIN JARMOND: Thank you for coming and being here. First and foremost, I want to thank Father Leahy for showing the confidence and trust in me to lead this search. It’s not every time you have a first-time athletic director that doesn’t hire a search firm to do a search of this magnitude, and he had the confidence in me and the trust in me and was there with me every step of the way. I want to thank Father Leahy for his support. I also want to thank the Board of Trustees for their support.
Also, three individuals that were critical for me for this whole search process: Jocelyn Gates, our senior associate athletic director; Father Jack Butler, our VP of Mission and Ministry; and Matt Hasselbeck, BC alum, and I think he’s here, for his help and his support the whole time. Thank you, Matt.
When we set out to find a new coach, there were a few things we wanted. We wanted a man of integrity. We wanted someone who understood who we were and our Catholic Jesuit values, men and women for others. We wanted someone that was a teacher. We wanted someone that was passionate about what they do in their craft in developing young people, and we wanted someone that could compete and win and wants to win. We found everything, all of those and more, in this guy, Jeff Hafley.
So I’m excited and honored to introduce you to our new head football coach, Jeff Hafley.
JEFF HAFLEY: Thank you guys for coming. Martin, thank you for that. Wow, I appreciate you guys all being here. Very grateful for that.
I want to thank a bunch of people, so please bear with me. It’s not every chance you get to get up here and do this, and it’s been a journey, and it’s been hard, and it’s been fun. Without these people, none of this would be possible. I wouldn’t be standing here. So I’m going to be honest, I’m not going to read much. That’s who I am. I think most of you guys will see that. This is going to come from the heart. So please bear with me.
First, I want to thank Father Leahy, incredible opportunity he gave me. I had a great chance to meet with him, very much enjoyed our conversation, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. To the Board of Trustees, thank you, and to Martin, I appreciate it — first time AD taking a chance on a first-time head coach. I will not let you down. You have my word on that.
A lot of coaches I need to thank — again, I didn’t get here on my own. Hi, Leah.
Guys, please, if she starts to start babbling, just tell her to leave.
I didn’t get here on my own. I met a lot of good people. I know a lot of good coaches who haven’t been as fortunate to get the opportunities that I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot of people take care of and look out for me. So I need to thank them.
It’s quite ironic, the first game I ever coached in my college career was in Boston. It was MIT versus WPI, where I was a football coach. So I’m a long way from there, but I’ve got to thank Ed Zaloom, who recruited me and was the head coach at that time, for giving me the opportunity to start my coaching career.
After that, I went to the University of Albany in New York with Bob Ford, maybe one of the most underrated coaches in the entire coaching industry. One of the best men and one of the best people and someone I am truly grateful for him entering my life.
After that, I went to Pittsburgh, Paul Rhodes and Dave Wannstedt gave me the opportunity to coach at Pittsburgh. Dave Wannstedt hired me at 26 years old to be the DB coach. I’m forever grateful. He’s been like a second father to me, and he’s taught me so much about myself as a person and as a football coach. Gave a 26-year-old a chance, and like I said, I’m forever grateful.
After that, I got a chance to coach with Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Greg treated my family extremely well, and he even gave me the opportunity to join him in the NFL, where I went to Tampa following that.
Other coaches just to mention, Mike Pettine, Chip Kelly, Kyle Shanahan. Very blessed, guys. I appreciate all of them for giving me a chance and for teaching me. Again, I wouldn’t be up here if not for them.
Then the last coach I do want to thank is Ryan Day. I got to thank Ryan Day and Gene Smith and the whole Ohio State University for giving me the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator at a great place. I know Ryan loves this place. He talks really highly about it, and I get it now. I never thought that I would leave Ryan after one season. Quite honestly, that’s not what I planned on doing, but when this one opened, it felt special, and it felt right, and that’s why I’m here. Ryan Day is an unbelievable person, an unbelievable coach, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.
So those are the coaches that helped me along the way, and now I’ve got to thank some family members because, I mean, just look at me. I’m not the biggest guy. I don’t look like I played big-time football, and that’s the truth. I’ve had to work really hard. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder. I’ve had to kick down doors. It’s been hard, but it’s been real, and it’s been worth it, and I’ve had the support. I told Martin this, I have a list in my wallet of all the things that doubters have said to me my whole life.
Thanks. To my mom, to my brother and sister, thank you for your support, your love, and for never doubting me. To my wife Gina, to Leah and Hope —
JEFF HAFLEY: I appreciate that because whoever’s phone that is, you’re not going to get that again. Thank you. I needed that right now. That’s a moment right there. So thank you. No doubt.
So now that I actually feel better, to Gina and my kids — and there’s one person that can’t be here, my father, who passed away — I love you, and you’re why I’m here.
That is sweet.
But thank you to my family. I’ve been doubted. You guys supported me, and we’re going to do this together now. So I’m really excited about that.
I got a chance to be with the team today, and I told them why I wanted to be here. I looked at them in this room and I said, this is a very special place. It has Catholic and Jesuit values that are very important for my family — men and women for others, service, humbleness. It’s a special place. It’s a place that I’ve been here before. I worked camps here. I jogged around the res. I stayed in these dorms in between camp sessions. So I know it.
When this opportunity came to be part of this special place, I looked at them, and I said, I’m here because of you guys. You guys are the ones I want to coach. We’ve got a good group here. I’ve watched you. I’m excited to be your coach. Then I told them what I’m all about as a person, and I told them we’re going to do this with three things.
We’re going to be tough. We’re going to walk tough. We’re going to look tough. We’re going to play tough. That’s who we’re going to be, and that’s going to be huge for us.
The next thing I talked about was love. That’s really important for me because, in a world right now coming back to college football, it’s hard, and we’re going to rely on everybody. They’re going to rely on me. I’m going to rely on them. And we need to love each other, and it’s more than a word, it’s more than a feeling. It’s an action. It’s how we work together. It’s how we play together. It’s how we live together. That’s going to really carry on who we are.
And the last thing I talked to them about, we’re going to compete. We’re going to compete in everything we do, guys, and I mean that. We’re going to wake up, and we’re going to compete. We’re going to go to school. We’re going to compete. We’re going to compete with ourselves. We’re going to compete with each other. And when we finally get to put the ball down and play, whoever lines up against us, we’re going to compete with them too. So it’s going to be about toughness, love, and we’re going to compete, and I told them that. And then it’s going to be a fun journey.
And the last thing is I have to go back. I wish I could stay. I told Martin that in the whole entire process. I wish I could stay here and begin right now, but I have to go win a National Championship. I owe it to Ohio State, to Coach Day, and to the players, and I’m excited. So I’m going to go do that.
But what I’d ask all of you, we need to lock arms. I’d ask you guys in this room, everybody. I’d ask the alumni. I’d ask the faculty, the students. I’d ask everybody in the whole BC community. We have to lock arms, and we have to do it together, and that’s my job to make sure we all feel that way because it’s going to be hard. We’re going to work, but it’s going to be real, and you’re going to hear me say that a lot.
What do I mean by that? When you work hard and you believe in something and you do it together and it’s real because it’s done the right way, it’s going to be worth it, and we’ll be sitting up here. We’ll be talking about a lot of great things because, in all honesty, I want to compete, and I want to win. I want to get better, and I want this to be a top 25 program. That’s real. That’s the truth, and it can be. I want there to be magical moments and magical seasons like you guys have seen with Doug and Matt. We need to bring back those magical moments to The Heights. That’s why I’m here, and that’s what we plan on doing.
So to do that, I’m here to tell you, I’m in. I’m here, and I’m in. What I’d ask the students, get in. What I’d ask the BC community, get in. What I’d ask this football team, get in. For all you guys, get in. Because it is going to be real, it’s going to be special, and we are going to do this together. Thank you guys.
Q. Martin, did your association with Gene Smith and the Ohio State community kind of smooth the transition or smooth the hiring of Jeff?
MARTIN JARMOND: It did, and it didn’t. Gene Smith was great the whole time. Obviously, he’s been my mentor. He helped me throughout the process. So it did from that standpoint. When I had to call him and tell him that one of your guys is really high on my list, you know, I didn’t know how that was going to be received because I know how valuable he is to what Ryan and Gene and Ohio State is doing.
So I remember that conversation when I called him just as a courtesy, Gene, I don’t know how this thing is going to go, but one of your guys is really high on my list. And when I said Jeff’s name, he said, “Wow.” That’s literally what he said. He said, “Wow,” and then he said, “He’s a good one.” Then it became easier, from the standpoint I talked to Ryan and I wanted to be respectful of what they’re doing and not try to be disruptive to them as they were chasing a championship.
Q. Coach, what was it about Boston College, just from a football perspective, that drew you to this program?
JEFF HAFLEY: Well, it was more than just football. I grew up in North Jersey, and I’ve known about Boston College for my entire life. It’s one of the teams you root for growing up as a family — the university, the values that I talked about. And then when I started to watch the tape, I saw a good team. This is not a rebuild. This is not something that is going to start from scratch. They’ve done a good job with good players, and it’s our job to get it better, but that’s one of the things that attracted me to this place.
Q. Welcome. Broyles Award, you know what it means, how important it is to have supporting staff around you. I wanted to get your thoughts on how important it was to sort of build that pool that’s going to be dedicated to building a staff around you, and what sort of assistants, in your mind, are important to taking that program to the next level?
JEFF HAFLEY: Sure, I appreciate that. To me, the staff will be everything because — I said this to Martin in the process — you win with people. You do. You win with great people. It starts with the players and then the coaches. Everything else is nice. You know, facilities, field — you win with people. So I want to take my time, and I want to make sure we do it right. I want to get people that have the same values. I want to get a mix of people that I’ve worked with and maybe people that I haven’t to push me.
But I have a good pool, and there’s a lot of people that want to be here, which is really exciting. I can’t tell you the amount of calls I have from people at all levels that want to be part of this. So at night when I get a chance to dedicate it to Boston College, I’m going to look hard. I’m going to talk to a lot of people, but I want it to be the right fit.
Q. You mentioned very casually, I have to go win a National Championship. I’m just wondering if you can reflect a little bit on the collision of these two things in your life right now. Obviously, your greatest professional opportunities both basically happening at the same time.
JEFF HAFLEY: Yeah, it’s a great question, and it’s one that a lot of people have been asking me. You mentioned the word challenge. Some people are asking me how I’m going to do it. I see it as a blessing. Look at this, I get a chance to fulfill a dream and go work for a National Championship. And at the same time, when I’m done working on that, I get a chance to work on being a head coach, putting together a staff in a place I really want to be.
My wife might get mad because I might not see her very much or talk to her very much and I might not sleep, but I see it as such a great opportunity, not a challenge, and I’m just really excited to be able to do both.
Q. Rarely has a hire at Boston College been met with such an overwhelmingly positive response. How humbling when you hear that is it for you?
JEFF HAFLEY: It means a lot. I said to Martin this morning, how are people taking this? Because I haven’t had much time to look. Then I walk in here, and that’s kind of one of the reasons I got emotional. To see all you guys smiling and excited, that means everything to me and my family, and we appreciate that, and we’re going to do our best to make everybody happy and proud.
Q. Kind of a similar one for Martin. How important was it for you to, not necessarily make a splash with the new hire, but to kind of leave your fingerprints on this one?
MARTIN JARMOND: It wasn’t about me. I think this was an important hire for our community, and I understood the magnitude of this position. The head football coach is a significant position of leadership at Boston College and a lot of places across the country. So I understood the magnitude. I took it very seriously. I prepared a lot. When you have a moment like this, you have to take advantage and get it right. I did everything I could to make sure I was prepared to try to get it right.
But it wasn’t about me. It was really just about understanding how important this leadership opportunity was in finding the right person that wanted it, that would embrace it, and take us to greater heights.
Q. (No microphone)?
JEFF HAFLEY: No, just the excitement. It’s kind of what I was trying to say up there when I was getting emotional. It hasn’t been easy for me. That’s why I kind of have a chip on my shoulder. I’ve had to push through, punch through, and I’ve had to work really hard. I see this as a great opportunity, and I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done, just working hard, surrounding myself with great people, enjoying the moment, coaching football.
Q. Coach, always some uncertainty, players staying, players going, most notably Anthony entered the transfer portal last week. I wanted to get your thoughts on how important it is to communicate with guys like that who need to make a very major decision that this is the place they should stay?
JEFF HAFLEY: Yeah, great question. It’s going to be my job to communicate with all these guys and to kind of get a feel for where they’re at and to let them know who I am and what they can expect of me. I haven’t had the time to talk to everybody yet, but I’m excited to do so, and I will make sure that I do that.
Q. Getting a kind of Ohio State vibe up there. What is it about the culture there that’s been so successful that you think you can bring to Boston College?
JEFF HAFLEY: Do you want to start with that? You’re a Buckeye or were a Buckeye.
MARTIN JARMOND: I think any time — Jeff said it earlier. You win with people. Any time you understand that it starts with people, and he mentioned there are great people there — Gene Smith, Ryan Day, Al Washington, great Eagles, great Buckeyes. I think any time you understand that culturally, you’re in the right direction. So I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned and tried to bring and what Jeff mentioned.
JEFF HAFLEY: I agree. There’s great people there — Ryan and Gene Smith, and they have a great strength coach, and they have great people there. They built that culture over time. You know, Urban Meyer did a great job, and Jim Tressel did a great job, and there’s been consistency among the coaches and the people there, and when you do that, you allow that to build. It’s been exciting to be a part of and learn from because I think I’ll be able to take a lot from that.
Q. Jeff, you talked a lot about changing lives with being a coach in college football. Now as a head coach, you have the opportunity to not only change lives but change a program too. What’s that like?
JEFF HAFLEY: I think it’s an awesome opportunity. You’re right. I have talked a lot about changing lives. I said this — I don’t remember when, but I thought I was going to be a coach in the NFL. I thought I was going to be a head coach and a coordinator, and then something brought me back to college, and one of the things that brought me back, honestly, to Ohio State was to look at an opportunity like this because there were certain places that I said I’d love to be the head coach there.
When you coach in college, you do, you affect lives, and you change them because you’re such a part of them, and you could change a kid for the next 25, 30, 40 years, and there’s so much honor in that, and that’s what life is all about.
So now to be the head coach and not just be on the defensive side of the ball or be with one specific position, I’m excited for that. I’m excited to get to know these players.
Q. With your NFL experience, they talk about how much the game is changing and different types of schemes. Not just schematically, but from your experience in the NFL, how have you seen sort of different ways to prepare kids, and how does that change your approach or philosophy as a coach about how you coach in college?
JEFF HAFLEY: Sure. One of the things I had a chance to do in the NFL, I learned a lot of football. For seven years, I just did football. I went in my office, shut the door, and I studied, and I prepared. I prepared for an opportunity like this, a moment like this, and I was around great people, really good players who were really good people as well, and I learned from them. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t afraid to ask a player what he thought. I asked Richard Sherman tons of questions on how he read things, saw things, how he played certain coverages.
So you build relationships at both levels, you do, and in a league where people didn’t think it was about relationships in the NFL, it was for me, and I mean that. I had so many of those guys text me congratulations when I took this job, and it just meant that I meant something to them, and that’s why you coach.
Then to come back this year and touch lives like I have, incredible people and players that I’ve been around, it’s been humbling, and it’s been rewarding, and I’m excited to get started here.
Q. Martin, this is not your first hire as athletic director. In terms of what you looked for in coaches, how unique is Jeff, first of all? And second of all, in terms of your greater mission of what you’ve tried to accomplish in the hiring process of a football coach.
MARTIN JARMOND: I think you have to have alignment in what you’re looking for. Again, they’re very consistent for me — integrity, passion, a drive to compete, and a teacher, someone that’s willing to teach, and not just tackling or how to kick a ball or how to throw a pass, but teaching you how to become a better person, teaching you how to become a better student, a teammate. I think that’s really important. Those don’t change for me. The most important thing for me is leadership. I look for leaders.
Jeff fits all of those. We’ve been very consistent with our approach and how we look at hires of head coaches. So leadership and culture are the two most important things, and he has a lot of the characteristics that I was looking for and more. I think the distinct thing about Jeff is he has those qualities, but then he also has those intangibles that you kind of look at. He talked about a chip on his shoulder. I like that. I like someone that’s hungry. I like someone that just needs an opportunity because I resonate with that, I understand that. It makes you go that much harder to try to be successful. You don’t accept no. You don’t accept failure. And I heard some of those things the first time I met him when I sat down with him.
So I think that’s really important is to have that fire and to have that understanding, have those qualities and characteristics of leadership, teaching, passion, alignment, but you’ve got to have something else to you. You’ve got to have juice with you, and he’s got juice.
JEFF HAFLEY: Thanks, Martin.
He’s got juice too.
Q. You were mentioning like the relationship with Richard Sherman, but just going down the list of guys who vouched for you or gave you their approval upon hiring, was it kind of, one, not necessarily cool to see the impact you had made on a lot of different guys, but they vouched for you not only as a coach but as a person. Kind of how did you carve those kind of — what would you attribute to carving that kind of reputation, I guess?
JEFF HAFLEY: Good question. I think it goes back to who I am as a person. I don’t see myself as just a football coach. In order to lead, you have to get to know people. You can’t lead people unless you know them. How do you get to know people? It takes time. It takes effort, but that’s life. That’s the most important thing to me is the relationships I have with people, with my family, with the people that I get to coach. When you put that time in, it becomes special.
I saw that — I mean, I got a text from Dion Lewis last night, who I recruited when I was at Pitt years ago, and he said you deserve this, and I’m so excited for you and Gina. It’s texts like that that make all of this worth it. Because at the end of the day, the wins, the losses, I get it, they’re important, and I’m not going to take anything away from that ever. But at the end of the day, it’s those relationships that are more important than anything, and I value that.
Q. Obviously, you’ve got a lot to do. Your head is probably spinning with all the people you’re meeting and things of that nature, but have you sat down to map out what the time frame is going to be and what the plan is going forward when you do take over?
JEFF HAFLEY: Yeah, I haven’t really been able to take a deep breath and do much of anything right now. I’m going to get going as soon as I can. I literally am flying back and going to run onto a field and coach a football practice. I might still be in my suit doing so.
But then after that, I’m going to take time, and I’m going to put a lot of thought into this, and I’m going to do it the right way. I just want to make sure that I’m patient and that I go about it how I’ve always done.