When I worked in the sports department of the Doylestown Intelligencer, one of my colleagues, a guy I will call Adam (because that’s his name) was a New York Mets’ fan.
He called Lenny Dykstra one nickname (Nails), I called him another (The Dude).
Amazing the same guy could be known in two large Eastern cities by two completely different nicknames.
I thought about that while reading the mostly positive reviews of what Steve Addazio has done at Boston College this season. Up there, he’s known by a nickname no one called him here (The Dazzler) while, down here, he was simply known as Daz. Nobody calls him Daz up there, just The Dazzler.
Today is the one-year anniversary of Steve Addazio quitting from his position as head football coach at Temple University.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, in my car and headed to the gym (Abington LA Fitness, former Temple recruit Brandon Peoples knows it well). I was passing the iconic Rydal Train Station on Susquehanna Avenue when Harry Donahue came on the KYW air at 5:45 p.m. with “breaking news in the sports world,” and following that up with the tease, “There has been a coaching change at Temple.”
In between the long pause between that sentence and the next, I thought for once in my life my university had the balls to fire someone because he followed an 8-4 regular season with a 4-7 one.
Instead, I heard this: “Steve Addazio has resigned as the head football coach to take the same job at Boston College.”
That was mildly amusing because I never heard of a school hiring a guy coming off a 4-7 season. (Unfortunately, I DID hear of a uni hiring a guy coming off an 0-11 season and it was MY university and that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster circa 1989.)
Whatever the reason, I pounded the steering wheel and started cheering out loud because I knew Temple would go nowhere with this stubborn man in charge. I thought now the university could hire someone with a winning head-coaching FBS pedigree after years of rolling the dice with unproven assistant coaches. I attended the final press conference a week earlier at Temple where Addazio uttered the famous line “the season starts Monday and it won’t be a box of chocolates for those guys” at Edberg-Olson Hall. “We have to run the football for 200 yards a game, that’s something we have to do,” Daz said.
I left that press conference thinking Daz doesn’t get it and probably never will.
Monday came and Daz went, becoming The Dazzler, and the rest was history.
Say what you will about Daz, he probably would have beaten Fordham and Idaho by pretty substantial scores because his philosophy of running the ball on first and second downs almost to the point of exclusivity would have probably netted him first downs against those two horrible run defenses before even getting to a third down. He would have saved the uni from the embarrassment of two of five worst losses in its history. Still, that philosophy doesn’t lend itself to multiple winning seasons in a major conference so it is overall good that he is gone.
I got to know Daz a little bit and I liked him a lot as someone to shoot the breeze with. I was in New York City for the June 12th gathering of Temple alumni and Daz in 2012 and talked with Daz. He was brutally candid. He was talking about that he “had it up to here” with a Temple player (a favorite of mine) and that he was “this close” to kicking him off the team. When the two guys I was with reminded him I write the TFF blog, Daz said, “Mike, please don’t print this.” I didn’t. I still won’t print the name (those kind of settings should be off-the-record anyway), but the guy was never kicked off the team and had a great senior year, something that pleased both me and Daz.
Got to give him credit for turning a 2-10 team into a 7-5 one, while his successor turned a 4-7 team into a 2-10 one.
Whether or not that’s an omen of things to come won’t be known until this day a year from now.
Meanwhile, Daz’s big advertising campaign up there this year is “Be a Dude.” Sounds better than “Be a Nails” but not as good as “Temple TUFF.”