A JERSEY GUY: OSU's Hafley At Top of Boston College List

Mark Blaudschun

The preliminary work has been done. Sources familiar with the process say that Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley has emerged as the front-runner in Boston College's search for a new football coach.

Nothing will be done officially until after the Buckeyes Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin on Saturday night, but BC officials hope to wrap up proceedings by the end of next week.

And according to multiple sources at BC and in the Big Ten, Hafley, 40-year old rising star on Ryan Day's staff is expected to be brought to Boston College next week to complete the deal.

The key element in the trip will be a meeting with BC President Father William Leahy, who has the final say on any move that is made.

"Hafley is the No. 1 candidate and he wants the job,'' said one source connected to BC.

Hafley was one of two Ohio State assistants that were on BC athletic director Martin Jarmond's candidate list. Al Washington, the Buckeyes' linebackers coach, was the other possibility.

Washington, a former BC player and assistant coach, received a strong push from members of the BC community wanting to have a coach with ties to the school, but at 35 and without any experience as coordinator, the overall feeling was that Washington needs just a little more seasoning.

There has been some chatter that Washington might still come back to BC--as part of Hafley's staff-- but that was more speculation than substance.

There are few doubts about Hafley's credentials or his readiness to move to the next level.

Sources at BC say Jarmond targeted Hafley as a potential candidate weeks ago when now-former BC coach Steve Addazio's job security again became a hot topic.

The opening became official last Saturday when BC finished its regular season 6-6 after a win over Pittsburgh. The .500 season did not meet the level of expectations that Jarmond had required.

Addazio was fired Sunday and Jarmond said that he would start a national search for a new coach on Monday.

But Hafley was already at the top of Jarmond's priority list and a trip to Ohio early in the week took care of some basic details.

The process has been muddled somewhat by Ohio State's prominence in the national championship race. The Buckeyes are the No. 1 ranked team by the College Football Playoff selection committee and could be playing until the second week in January.

With recruiting a strong priority at BC and elsewhere, hiring a new coach whose old team is still playing complicated matters.

Day, who has paid his dues as an assistant coach for almost 20 years, including two stints at BC, knows the problems involved and was totally understanding, but he also asked for patience until the Buckeyes at least qualified for the Final Four, which could be official by Sunday.

Mindful of that, the parties involved are keeping publicly quiet for the next few days, but the process should move to warp speed next week.

Hafley would be a good fit at BC for a variety of reasons, not the least being a desire to return to the Northeast. He grew up in New Jersey, attended school in New York and coached at Pittsburgh and Rutgers as well as in the NFL at Tampa, San Francisco and Cleveland.

Jarmond received lots of advice from BC insiders to expand his search beyond Ohio State-where he worked before BC--to other colleges and into the NFL. Hafley, though, checked off most of the boxes Jarmond had set for preferring a rising-star assistant coach over an established coach.

There were no shortage of coaches interested in the job, including former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, now on Bill Belichick's staff with the Patriots.

No deal is done until it's done, but Hafley would fit into the overall plan Jarmond said he had for BC athletic teams: competing and succeeding nationally and at the highest level and in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

That message was also made clear late this week when the Board of Trustees met with Jarmond, who took over in June of 2016.

Men's basketball hasn't been competitive in coach Jim Christian's tenure at BC, which could lead to another coaching change in the next few months given team has lost four of its last five games and is facing another hard ACC winter.

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Mark Blaudschun

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