CLEMSON, S.C. — As Rutgers athletic administration does its due diligence in its search for a new head coach, the team has been secretly polling powerful high school coaches across New Jersey to get a feel for who might be the most fit candidate.
Boston College coach Steve Addazio was one among the host of names that came up as viable options.
Addazio was endorsed by Mater Dei Prep coach Dino Mangiero as “the kind of guy I think we need.”
With the Eagles in the thick of the season, preparing for their matchup Saturday night against Clemson, Addazio was flattered but focused on his own players.
“I’m worried about my team, BC, the Eagles,” said Addazio before his Eagles got thumped, 59-7, by Clemson on Saturday night. “I love these guys. We’re just grinding. I’m impervious to all that stuff. I put myself in a vacuum right now. We have such a talented team, a young team — especially on defense — there’s so much work that has to be done here.”
Rutgers last month fired Chris Ash, who amassed an 8-32 record in his three-plus seasons as head coach.
The Scarlet Knights were 1-3 at the time of his dismissal and the combined score of those losses was 112-16. One of those losses came at the hands of Addazio’s Eagles, 30-16.
The program is in a state of flux having lost six straight games before Saturday’s 44-34 win over Liberty. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile is currently serving as interim coach.
New Jersey has been a recruiting hotbed for the Eagles under Addazio. The state accounts for 17 players on the Eagles’ roster this season.
Addazio is 42-42 in seven seasons at BC. He guided the Eagles to five bowl games in his first six seasons, though it didn’t come without some turbulence. In 2015, the Eagles went 3-9 and failed to win a game in the ACC.
Addazio has found himself on several “hot seat” lists over the years, but last December he got a two-year contract extension from athletic director Martin Jarmond.
Long stepping up
Tight end Hunter Long has emerged as the Eagles’ top receiving weapon, filling the void left when Tommy Sweeney went to the NFL after last season. Long leads all BC receivers with 20 catches for 400 yards.
“Hunter’s got real speed,” Addazio said. “He’s a 6-5, 250-pound guy who can flat run. He’s an explosive weapon.”
His staggering 20 yards per catch is a product of a passing game that opens up because of running backs AJ Dillon and David Bailey.
“He’s hitting on these play-actions and that’s what happens when people load the boxes,” Addazio said. “Some of those play-action shots open up pretty good.
Eagles junior nose tackle T.J. Rayam has ties to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
Rayam’s father Thomas played with Swinney at Alabama before being drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1990. Thomas Rayam was on the offensive line. Swinney, a receiver for the Crimson Tide, was a freshman when Thomas Rayan was a senior.
“His dad, Thomas, was a great player at Alabama,” Swinney said. “He was a big 6-7 defensive linemen, and a good friend of mine.”
The Eagles have lost 12 straight to Clemson. They haven’t won in Death Valley since 2007 . . . This was the 12th time the Eagles and Tigers played with the O’Rourke-McFadden trophy at stake.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.