Q&A: Boston College defensive coordinator Jim Reid

Boston College had the nation’s top defense in 2015, but it lost coordinator Don Brown to Michigan. So Steve Addazio turned to former Iowa linebackers coach Jim Reid to fill the void.

The 65-year-old Reid, who served as BC’s coordinator once before, in 1994, spoke with ESPN.com this week as the Eagles get set to open spring ball Thursday.

What’s changed or stayed the same since you last held this post?

Jim Reid: It’s the culture at Boston College that attracts the type of guy that I was with here before. All of these guys were really tough, focused individuals on the football field and in meetings and in workouts, and they’re also very, very good and focused on their academics as well. You don’t have to class-check on these young guys. They’re driven to succeed in all areas of their lives. It’s fun to be with them and it was the same type of person that’s here now that was here in 1994 when I was here. Very humble, hard-working young guys in every aspect of life, whether it be in the classroom, in the weight room or on the field.

How’d the opportunity come about?

JR: Coach (Kirk) Ferentz asked to see me after the Rose Bowl Game, and once we got beat in the Rose Bowl Game I thought he was going to fire me (laughs). He said: ‘I want to see you for a minute,’ and he mentioned that Coach Addazio had called and asked for permission to talk to me I guess a couple of days earlier and said he just wanted to wait till after the game, which we did. Coach Addazio and I have been friends for a long time but we never did coach together. And he asked me to come out, which I did, and it just brought back a lot of great memories for me from years past. I grew up just a few miles from here in Medford, Massachusetts. I recruited this area for maybe 40 years, so there were a lot of people I knew, and I just had a real good feeling and I just remember the way it was. And as I started to meet the players, it’s still the same way as I described here earlier. It’s been great so far, but that’s how it turned out.

There are two new defensive assistants as well. What’s the challenge there?

JR: We hired a guy named Anthony Campanile, who is the type of guy if you spend 10 minutes with him you feel like you know him for the rest of your life. I think he’s just a brilliant young coach. Not even good, I think he’s brilliant. And then we hired coach Paul Pasqualoni, who I worked for at Syracuse when he was the head coach there and a fantastically successful head coach there. And then I worked for him at the Miami Dolphins when he was the defensive coordinator there and we had the greatest turnaround in NFL history after coming in after a 1-15 team, and our first year we were 11-5 and had a great, great defense. So these are folks I know. And then Al Washington is the special-teams coordinator and also coaches on the defensive line and he was a great player here that I knew before I came in as well. We all get along great, it’s a close staff. I think the players feel that. Just excited to get going and see where we’re at.

What’s the balance of placing your blueprint and not tinkering too much with a good thing?

JR: You always feel (it’s) not scheme, it’s players. And if you’ve got really great young guys that can run, good athletes, physical at the point of attack, can cover, then you’ve got a chance really with any scheme. And this has nothing to do with anything except for us putting our best players on the field and performing well enough to win. And believe me, what I just said in a few sentences is a year-long project. Years-long, actually. The culmination of a lot of hard work that Coach Addazio, Coach Brown and Coach Albert and Coach Lempa adapted to the three previous seasons, but really from a defensive standpoint came to a fruition last year. So now what we’ve got to do is try to maintain the proficiency some way, somehow, which is going to be extremely difficult to do. I think the players are excited. We have to try to stay healthy and keep working very hard.