Within an hour of his arrival in Boston Wednesday night, not long after Boston College’s new head football coach Steve Addazio named him offensive coordinator, Ryan Day had his first meeting.
Quarterback Chase Rettig wanted to talk as soon as possible — Day is his fifth offensive coordinator — and the feeling was mutual.
They knew each other from the time Day spent as an assistant at BC under former coach Frank Spaziani, but this was about more than just catching up.
The two talked for 40 minutes. Wide receiver Alex Amidon was also part of the conversation.
For Day, the message to both of them was the same. It was less about X’s and O’s and more about leadership.
“I talked to them about holding guys accountable,” Day said. “That’s one of the things. Plays are plays, but that’s something they’ve got to learn to do. They’ve got to become great leaders in this offense. They’ve got to learn to push the other guys. They’ve got to set a standard and make everybody live up to the standard.
“In order for us to be any good on offense next year, we need the leadership from those guys. That’s vitally important for our success.”
The relationships are what matter.
Before leaving BC last season to become Addazio’s offensive coordinator at Temple, Day built solid ones throughout the program. He watched Rich Gunnell become the top receiver in BC history. He was the reason receiver Johnathan Coleman came to BC.
“When he left, he left with a good relationship,” Rettig said. “We always supported each other when he was here.”
Now Day returns as a familiar face trying to restore a program rattled by consecutive losing seasons.
“The vision, obviously, is to win the ACC championship,” Day said. “That’s our goal. We’re hitting the ground running here, and it’s obviously an exciting opportunity.”
The first step is building trust.
The bond between Day and Addazio goes back to Day’s stint as a graduate assistant at Florida, where they both worked under Urban Meyer, and they both have a reputation for building strong ties with players.
“We’re going to coach these guys as hard as we possibly can, with everything that we have,” Day said. “In order to do that, that relationship’s got to be built. They’ve got to have trust in you that you love them, that you care about them, that you have their best interests at heart.
“If that’s not there, then it’s hard to coach real hard. It’s hard to be in their face, it’s hard to create conflict, because there’s no trust between the player and the coach.
The second is recruiting, a process they’ve already dug into, Day said.
“We’re going to recruit some of the most athletic and dynamic quarterbacks that we can,” Day said. “We’re going to recruit some of the most athletic and dynamic running backs and playmakers, because we have to get playmakers in place.”
The Eagles had the second-worst scoring offense in the conference, third-worst in total yards, worst in rushing yards, fifth-worst in passing, and worst on third downs.
Day has had the same attack mentality since his days as a record-setting quarterback at the University of New Hampshire under Sean McDonnell and Chip Kelly, and the plan is for the offense he inherits to buy into it.
“My philosophy is to always be on the attack, always be aggressive, and to create as much conflict as we can on the defense,” he said. “We’re going to do that in a lot of different ways.
“We’re going to have to be aggressive, we’re going to try to play fast, we’re going to always be on the attack, play tough, play hard-nosed with a lot of energy, and those are the key components to being successful.”
Rettig is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,065 yards, by and large the most consistent option for a team that lacked an effective running game.
“He’s been through the battles,” Day said. “He understands the consequences of every play. I think that’s one of the things you can’t teach a quarterback.
“He’s a veteran guy behind the center, and any time you have that, you have a fighting chance.’’
But with Addazio’s background as a run-oriented offensive line coach and Day’s desire for balance, that will inevitably change.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time on running the football,” Day said.
“That being said, we have an opportunity to throw the football with Chase and Alex, and we’re going to do that as well.
“We want to be as balanced as we can be.”