It is the price of success.
When a team has the kind of season that Ohio State is having, its assistant coaches can become prized commodities. That’s what the Buckeyes are dealing with as they prepare for a College Football Playoff semifinal Dec. 28 and the early national signing day Wednesday.
Ohio State defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley, who drew raves for his work with Greg Mattison and the other defensive coaches this season, is reportedly a top candidate for the Boston College head coaching job. BC’s athletic director, Martin Jarmond, is a former Ohio State assistant athletic director.
Another name mentioned in connection with the Boston College job is Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington, who played and coached at BC.
Jarmond would not comment on the coach search when reached by The Dispatch.
Hafley deflected questions about his coaching future when asked last week before the Big Ten championship game.
“I’m going into the next biggest game of my career,” he said. “If we can just focus on that, I’d appreciate it. But I get it. I get why you asked the question — no disrespect.”
Hafley and Ohio State coach Ryan Day were assistants with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Day lured him as one of his key hires when he succeeded Urban Meyer as coach.
This year, Hafley was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is given to college football’s top assistant coach. In Hafley’s speech before the award was given — LSU’s Joe Brady won it — he got emotional talking about the sacrifices of the job and what it means to him.
Hafley said he earned $2,500 in his first job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He spoke about the nights sleeping in the office because of the workload the job requires and the family responsibilities that fall on a coach’s wife.
Once he made it to the NFL, Hafley said, he didn’t expect to return to the college game.
“Something brought me back,” he said, “and it’s the best decision I ever made.”
He said that while he has enjoyed the Buckeyes’ on-field success, the relationships with players make the job special. Hafley spoke about a player, presumably Jeff Okudah, who thanked him after he had two interceptions against Nebraska.
“He stood up in front of the team and said, ‘Jeff Hafley changed my life,’ ” Hafley said. “That’s why we do what we do. We change lives. There’s so much honor in that — to be able to take an 18- and 19-year-old and change his life and help him down the road for his life. That’s what it’s all about.”
Now the question is whether Hafley will be leaving Ohio State after only one year. Meyer had an understanding with his assistant coaches that they would serve for two years before pursuing other opportunities.
Hafley and Washington aren’t the only Buckeyes assistant coaches who were mentioned as candidates elsewhere. Running backs coach Tony Alford was considered a top candidate at Colorado State, his alma mater. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson also was mentioned as a contender for that job.
Neither got it. Colorado State announced Wednesday afternoon that it had hired Steve Addazio, the coach that Boston College fired.
Crazy how the coaching carousel sometimes turns.