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Packers DC Jeff Hafley: College football's still great, but it changed a lot last few years

There was a point when it was hard to imagine any Division I football head coach voluntarily leaving their job to become an assistant with another team, but we've seen it happen multiple times this offseason.

Most of the coaches, including Chip Kelly, remained at the college level in their new job, but Jeff Hafley made the move from Boston College to become the Packers defensive coordinator. The emergence of things like the transfer portal, conference realignment and NIL in the college football world have been cited as reasons why those coaches have decided to step away from jobs that used to be considered at or near the top of the profession.

During a press conference on Thursday, Hafley called Green Bay "the mecca of the football world" while discussing his decision to make the change. He also cited some of the aforementioned college developments as something that altered his vision of his former job.

“When I got the BC job, COVID hit,” Hafley said, via Steve Megaree of the Associated Press. “I got to know my team over Zoom. We had masks on in practice and that was way different than anything I’d never experienced. Then the next year the transfer portal came in, which was like, all right, now I have to recruit players, but I also have to keep the guys that are on my team from leaving. There’s no contracts, so you recruit a guy and develop a guy, and all of a sudden he can leave. And then came paying players, NIL, so it was a storm basically, since I got the head job, of things that kept getting thrown at you. But you do the best you can and you adapt. Certainly college football has changed and I do think that — I’m not going to get on a soapbox here today — but what I will say is I that do think there needs some things to change. It’s still a great game and there’s still great coaches, but it changed a lot since I started that job.”

Hafley won't have to deal with recruiting, NIL or anything other than improving the Packers defense during the 2024 season. If he pulls that off, he might be able to position himself for a return to head coaching work in the NFL at some point in the future.