CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- It’s tempting to look at Boston College’s 7-6, bowl-worthy season in Year 1 of the Steve Addazio era and forecast bigger and better things to come in Year 2.
After all, whereas in 2013 the Eagles had to spend time developing a foundation -- one built on toughness and hard work, core blue-collar values -- in 2014 that base is already in place (at least for the upperclassmen). That should mean the Eagles can devote more time to X’s and O’s.
That, in turn, should mean a more developed on-field product early on in Chestnut Hill. And with four of the first five games at home -- the opener is at Gillette against UMass -- a strong start could lead to an even better finish.
It’s a tempting belief, but ultimately could be a flawed one. And Addazio knows it.
“I’m really excited about this whole team, to tell you the truth, but I just know there will be bumps along the way,” the coach said after practice on Shea Field on Monday morning. “And whatever it is, it is. ... So we’ve got to be steady in the boat, develop our team; [we] can’t ride that emotional roller coaster. We know what we’ve got and where we’re headed. We knew this was going to be a process to build this thing, and we’re right on schedule.
“Last year was a nice little ... bonus, but in my mind when I came [here] I knew we’d be in this roster situation where we are right now with a lot of young players.”
The pause Addazio, as fluent and forceful a speaker as there is in college football, inserted before calling last season a “bonus” was telling. Taking over an experienced team stocked with veteran playmakers -- including but not limited to Chase Rettig, Alex Amidon, Andre Williams, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Kasim Edebali -- the coach knew the win-loss record in Year 1 might create unrealistic expectations for Year 2 and beyond.
The same thing happened at Temple, the coach’s previous stop. The Owls went 9-4 in Year 1, with players mostly recruited by the previous administration. The Owls went just 4-7 in Year 2, as Addazio and his staff set about restocking the shelves with talent.
That could very well happen at Boston College in 2014 (especially if the Eagles’ coaches have been taking shelf-stocking notes from the on-going Market Basket fiasco).
“We’re really a developmental team,” Addazio said. “So now you’re sitting there knowing that everything we put into this team, at some point we’re going to get back. It just might not come back to you as fast as sometimes the fans might want it to come back. That’s the way it is.”
But that doesn’t mean the coach is setting his sights any lower. Addazio hopes the Eagles make things happen quickly and he established clear goals for the team this season.
“Win the opener, get bowl eligible and find a way to get to Charlotte [for the ACC championship game],” the coach said. “Those are the things we laid out in front of the team. Right now, after laying that big picture out, the small picture right now is all about ‘win the opener.’ It’s just about the opener right now. We’ve got to get prepared for the opener. Period, end.
“We tacked on ‘get to Charlotte’ because it’s the right progression. Because you know at some point, as you’re building your program you’ve got to start talking about what you’re trying to get to. We came here to compete for championships. So that’s what we’re trying to get to. Where are we right now? We’re pretty young.”
Myles Willis is one of the young players Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day are counting on to produce in place of departed offensive playmakers like Doak Walker award winner and Heisman finalist Andre Williams. The sophomore running back has bought into the goals his coaches set.
“That’s the formula right now,” Willis said. “Your goal, far out, we want to get to Charlotte. But right now, we’re focused on UMass, we’re focused on winning that first game at Gillette.”
The Conyers, Georgia, native is a great representation of both the hope and the challenge facing the Eagles in 2014. He got a taste of the game in 2013, had some success and put on nearly 20 pounds in an attempt to better withstand the pounding of an ACC slate in 2014.
Addazio says he’s not concerned that the stage will be too big for the 5-foot-9, 203-pound back. Says Willis is ready to be a starter and to produce.
But no one can know for sure if Willis is for real until the sophomore makes it happen on the field.
“The comfort that I have is I know we have the pieces in place to get where we want to be eventually,” Addazio said. “The discomfort I have is we’re just very inexperienced right now. And I know ... when you’re very inexperienced, you just experience bumps along the way. And it can impact your wins. Because there’s really no margin for error.
“But it’s one thing when that’s happening and you don’t like where the future’s going. It’s another thing when you like where the future’s going.”
The question for BC is simple: When will the rosy-hued, championship-caliber future dancing before Addazio’s eyes actually arrive?
Because chances are things (like the team’s win-loss record) will get worse before they get better.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.