Hafley has gone 22-26 in four seasons at Boston College, bringing them to bowl eligibility in three of his four years. Boston College finished 7-6 this year with a win over No. 22 SMU in the Fenway Bowl.
Hafley has resisted prior NFL coaching opportunities in the past. But his reasons for taking this coordinator job are rooted in both the overall state of college football and the opportunity to work for one of the NFL’s most respected franchises.
“He wants to go coach football again in a league that is all about football,” a source told ESPN. “College coaching has become fundraising, NIL and recruiting your own team and transfers. There’s no time to coach football anymore.
“A lot of things that he went back to college for have disappeared.”
Hafley becomes the third sitting college head coach to leave on his accord this year for a coordinator job this year. He follows South Alabama’s Kame Wommack and Buffalo’s Maurice Linguist. They both took coordinator jobs at Alabama, and the moves speak to the gap between the top-tier schools pulling away from the others in terms of resources. That’s only been magnified in this era of Name, Image and Likeness deals being critical to recruiting and roster retention.
The future of the Packers proved a significant allure to Hafley, as they have a strong young core and bright future. He’s a longtime friend of Packers coach Matt LaFleur and long-timer admirer of the Packers franchise.
He’ll replace Joe Barry and be the third different defensive coordinator as LaFleur enters his sixth year as the franchise’s head coach.
While LaFleur and Hafley have never directly worked together, they have some mutual connections. Hafley was the Browns defensive backs coach in 2014-15 under then head coach Mike Pettine, who was LaFleur’s first defensive coordinator in Green Bay (2019-20). Hafley also worked for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, one of LaFleur’s mentors. Hafley was the 49ers defensive backs coach from 2016-18 before he became Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator.
The rest of the Packers defensive coach staff is under contract for the 2024 season and none of them was let go when the Packers parted ways with Barry. So there’s a good chance some — or all — of them could return to work under Hafley.
Hafley is a veteran NFL assistant coach who worked seven years in the NFL coaching various secondary positions before returning to college football as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2019.
Hafley became Boston College’s head coach in following the 2019 season, taking over the COVID-19 addled season of 2020. He had one losing record in four years — 3-9 in 2022.
The past three Boston College coaches have failed to win nine games, as the school’s last nine-win season came under Jeff Jagodzinski in 2008.
Hafley’s time at Boston College included three of the top recruiting classes in BC history. In 2022 led BC to its first win over an Associated Press ranked opponent since 2014 when BC upset No. 16 N.C. State. BC’s bowl win this year was the school’s first since 2016.
Information from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky was used in this report.