Published September 01. 2013 4:00AM
Chestnut Hill, Ma.
OK. I know what you're thinking. There he goes again. The BC guy writing about BC. Pass the barfbag.
Sorry. But this is just too amusing. And ironic. Try this: A Connecticut guy who worships the existing Connecticut coach - the same coach Connecticut fans want on the first bus out of Connecticut now - is suddenly The Man at the institution Connecticut sports fans hate the most.
That's another way of saying: Steve Addazio, born in Farmington, is more than happy to admit UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni "taught me how to be a football coach." And now Addazio's infectious spirit runs like a current through Boston College and the football program, 1-0 after Saturday's 24-14 avoid-the-upset-special over valiant Villanova.
Addazio is his own coffee commercial: "Try Chock full o'Nuts and you, too, can sound like this man." He's changing the culture at a program that had become more famous as a punchline than for its offensive line.
Take, for example, Addazio's mettle Saturday at Alumni Stadium, showing some faith in his players the first series of the season. Fourth-and-one, already down 7-0, a bunch of kids who were 2-10 last year. Punt? Nah.
"That's our program, right?" he said. "If we're going to be tough and we're going to be physical and we're going to have that mindset, we gotta go for it on fourth-and-one. That's just the way it is. I'm not going to blink on that. It's time to go, man. You want to open your mouth and say you're going to do this? Then you're going to do this. And they did it."
A few plays later, BC scored.
"We are fully indulged in this," quarterback Chase Rettig said, not long after joining his teammates in the locker room after the game singing the school fight song and generally being ecstatic, if ever so briefly and certainly for a change.
Addazio's joie-de-vivre, not to mention his Connecticut roots, invites the question: Was UConn donor Robert Burton right for wanting him to be the next coach? Burton, angry his voice wasn't heard during the hiring process, threatened to pull his money from the program a few years ago.
Ironically, Addazio loves to tell Pasqualoni stories. How he'd cut film and hang it with clothespins during their days together at Western Connecticut.
How they were laying irrigation pipes under the field, Coach P on a tractor and Addazio on his hands and knees. How they'd sleep in the office, one office, a partition of sorts separating the assistants from Pasqualoni. How Pasqualoni would say good night from one end and the assistants would say good night from the other.
"It was like 'The Waltons,'" Addazio said.
Addazio once said this of Pasqualoni: "He's the best there is. He's absolutely the most detailed guy I've ever been around. He's a tremendous teacher of fundamentals. As a young coach coming in, I couldn't have had a better start. And all of us that have been around coach P on his coaching tree, would all well you that. He made us all better. He taught us how to be coaches."
Most UConn fans would swear, though, that Pasqualoni is most assuredly not responsible for Addazio's enthusiasm. We see Pasqualoni as too clinical. Plenty of knowledge, sure. But duller than the opera. Addazio, meanwhile, has more energy than Connecticut Light & Power. And that resonates at BC right now, a program often lost in professional sports-obsessed Boston.
It's not just Addazio. BC also has former UConn defensive coordinator Don Brown, whose favorite line, "Be A Dude," has become the program's anthem.
"That's his saying all the time, be a dude," Addazio said. "And what being a dude is being a baller. You know? Just being a real baller. Just being a dude. Be great. Be a baller. Be great at what you are. Just don't be average."
It's also become a hashtag for all of BC's recruiting, resonating with high school kids on Twitter. BC has recruited better than it has in a while since Addazio arrived, thanks in part to newfound social media savvy and "Be A Dude."
"This is a revolution, and in a revolution you've got to overthrow a government," Addazio told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated. "We're going to all get out of our comfort zone and go into areas that I've never been before."
Brown, for the record, said "Be A Dude" just as much as UConn's defensive coordinator. Only nobody here thought to run with it like this.
"We need a little juice, we need a little energy," Addazio said. "Now that's probably not going to win you any games, but that's a part of it."
There was juice Saturday on The Heights. Plenty of it. They're loving the new coach at the Place Connecticut Loves To Hate. Maybe Robert Burton was a prophet after all.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.