Boston College middle linebacker Steele Divitto, the quarterback of the Eagles’ defense, said he could not fathom going through as many coordinators as senior quarterback Chase Rettig, who has had to acquaint himself with four over his last 3½ seasons at the helm of BC’s offense.
Rettig started with Gary Tranquill as a true freshman. Tranquill was supplanted Rettig’s sophomore season by Kevin Rogers, who was replaced in midseason by Dave Brock. Doug Martin then entered the picture as OC in Rettig’s junior season. Now, Rettig is on his fifth coordinator with Ryan Day, who is on his third tour of duty at The Heights after serving as an offensive graduate assistant (2003-04 ) under Tom O’Brien then as a receivers coach (2007-11) under Frank Spaziani.
Still, having to learn then re-learn the playbook, scheme, protections, and terminology over and over again was enough to make any quarterback’s head explode. But that was never the case with Rettig, who seemingly has rolled with the high turnover rate of BC’s offensive coordinators.
“Well, that just speaks volumes for him, though,’’ Divitto said of Rettig. “How he’s responded to everything. It just goes to show that he’ll be able to handle whatever gets thrown at him.’’
It forced Rettig to become a quick study.
“For me, when the next guy got hired, it was like I needed to establish communication and trust and start understanding what’s going on,’’ said Rettig, a 6-foot-3-inch, 206-pounder from Sierra Madre, Calif., who started all 12 games last season and passed for 3,095 yards and 17 touchdowns. “Like anything, it’s a learning curve and you have to know that you have to be ready to process all this information.’’
But Rettig didn’t have to start from square one with Day since they already had established a relationship from his turn as BC’s receivers coach.
“During my freshman year when we were trying to figure out what we were going to do at quarterback, he was always telling me, ‘Keep working, it might happen this year,’ ” Rettig said of Day. “I think he was always pushing me because he thought highly of me and I obviously respect him a lot. I think it’s been a good relationship since he’s been here and we’ve been getting closer.’’
And it’s helped to move BC’s offense along at a faster clip.
“With Chase, and with any kind of quarterback, trust is very important,’’ Day said. “The good news was that we had a prior relationship, so the trust was already there so we could move past that factor. The minute I got here, the first thing we talked about was learning how to lead, learning how to lead 10 men. That was his job.
“But the first two weeks all he wanted to talk about was the offense we were putting in. What kind of routes we were putting in the run game.’’
The conversation kept coming back to his leadership of the offense.
Still, Rettig knew time was ticking and he needed to get up to speed so that he could have the offense down cold by the spring.
“Having all these different coordinators, all it’s helped me to do is realize that I have to be that much more ready by this time,’’ Rettig said. “Also, it’s kind of helped me with my leadership role on the team, reminding guys that we need to get on this and we need to spend an hour here and an hour there, getting on the field as a unit and running some plays. So it’s actually helped me establish a leadership role on the team.’’
That much was evident to Day during one spring scrimmage when sophomore Harrison Jackson ran an incorrect pass route, forcing Rettig to throw the ball away. Instead of verbally running down Jackson, Rettig chased Jackson down and personally demonstrated by running the route himself.
“Everybody has a different style and that’s what I talk to Chase about all the time, ‘You have to find your own right way,’ ” Day said. “He’s got to set a standard and then he’s got to make everyone live up to that standard. That’s the supreme function of a leader.
“Everybody has their own style. Some days you have use a style where you’re really direct with a guy. Some days you have to put your arm around them and show them the way. Everybody has their own style and I think Chase is finding his own leadership.’’
Day saw Rettig’s approach with Jackson as evidence of that.
“I would talk to him about talking to his receivers about running the right route,’’ Day said. “And he says to me, ‘Well, every time a receiver makes a mistake, you and the receivers coach run over and correct him before I can.’ And I said, ‘Well, beat us over there.’
“We were in the middle of a route and the receiver didn’t run the right route and right after the play he literally chased the receiver down and showed him exactly how to run the route. That was a tangible way to say, ‘OK, you’ve taken the first step to leadership.’ Now he’s got to do it continually over time.’’
As far as Rettig was concerned, though, keeping everyone in line was part of his job as BC’s starting quarterback. And with all the different coordinators he’s had to deal with, that has not been an easy task.
“If anything, you just got to learn [the offense] faster when you’re a quarterback,’’ he said. “There’s so much terminology, there’s so much conceptuality, you’re around it so much, you process everything faster than the guys around you and you need to help the receivers, the running backs, the tight ends, the offensive line get into the right spots, because they might be thinking something from the previous offense.
“But you’ve got to be right on top of it.’’