Former UAlbany football coach Bob Ford reflects on one-time assistant and new BC coach Hafley

New Jersey native played at Siena and held several college and NFL positions, most recently at Ohio State
In a photo from August 2016, San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley is seen in a game against the Denver Broncos.
In a photo from August 2016, San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley is seen in a game against the Denver Broncos.

Former University at Albany head football coach Bob Ford remembers Jeff Hafley as a recruiting whiz and a defensive coaching specialist who sweated the details and constantly strove to be the best he could be.

Another branch in Ford’s legendary coaching tree, Hafley, 40, spent four seasons learning his craft under Ford’s guidance and eventually worked for several major college programs before embarking on a very successful career as an NFL assistant coach. Currently, he’s the co-defensive coordinator at national powerhouse Ohio State.

The former Siena College football player will be named the new head coach at Boston College in a press conference Monday.

A native of Montvale, N.J., Hafley is currently in his 19th season of coaching, but it all began in the Capital Region, first as a four-year wideout for the Saints from 1997-2000, and then coaching at UAlbany, where he earned his master’s degree in 2003. He worked for Ford from 2002 through 2005.

“Jeff was probably one of the greatest recruiters I’ve ever been around,” recalled Ford, who had a 256-169 record in 40 varsity seasons at the Great Danes’  helm. “He eventually moved up the ladder for me and at other successful programs. He would go into the state of New Jersey and take all the kids away from Greg Schiano, so when Schiano went to Rutgers, he hired Jeff. Hafley eventually went to the NFL with Tampa Bay and then on to San Francisco. Now, he’s at Ohio State and doing quite well.”

Ford said Hafley was a multi-talented young coach who needed a little seasoning after graduating cum laude from Siena in 2001.

Hafley learned his craft from Ford and former UAlbany assistant coach Ryan McCarthy, now the head coach at Central Connecticut State. He joins other former Ford assistant coaches like Kevin  Callahan at Monmouth and Chuck Priore at Stony Brook who are now Division I head coaches.

“He was really good friends with Ryan, and they were close,” Ford said. “Eventually, Jeff coached our defensive backs on defense, but he was also involved with overseeing our study halls and played a critical role in making sure all our student-athletes did well in class. We did very well academically as a team with Jeff in charge.”

Ford remembers that Hafley was always concerned about trying to improve himself and others.

“He was an excellent on-field coach,” Ford said. “He had a great sense of humor, and he was highly organized. I remember that he worried constantly about doing well. He worried about recruiting, and he worried about being as prepared as he needed to be.”

Siena athletic director John D’Argenio was pleased with the news.

“The Siena community congratulates Jeff on being named head coach at Boston College.  Like so many Siena graduates he has chosen a profession that serves others and he’s doing it at a very high level.  We’re wishing him much success,” D’Argenio said.

After playing at Siena and working for one season as an assistant coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Hafley joined Ford’s staff at UAlbany. He moved on to the University at Pittsburgh from 2006 through 2010 as a defensive assistant coach, cornerbacks coach and secondary coach.

When Schiano brought him to Rutgers in 2011, he helped the Scarlet Knights to a national ranking of ninth in passing defense.

Then, it was on to the NFL, where he held assistant coaching positions for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012-2013, the Cleveland Browns in 2014-2015 and the San Francisco 49ers from 2016-2018.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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