Momentum Award: Barry Gallup

Emily Fahey / Heights Editor
Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

The Director Of Football Operations Has Given Nearly His Whole Life To BC And Its Football Program

With all due respect to the people who are a part of Boston College’s Student Admissions Program, the University’s best tour guide works on the third floor of the Yawkey Athletics Center.

Barry Gallup first arrived at BC almost 50 years ago, back when the idea of his current office-the one that sits on the right-hand side of the head football coach, inside a $26 million facility with offices for the assistant coaches, rooms for meetings, breaks, film study, and recruiting, and a plethora of other resources for the football program and the athletic department-would have seemed like an impossible dream. He remembers the place as a New England-centric commuter school, struggling at times with finances. Now, the fact that BC football players from across the country come and go from this expensive facility for training and studying, getting ready for competition on the field and in the classroom, would surprise Gallup if he hadn’t been around the whole time to see the University grow.

“I know I couldn’t get in now-a-days,” Gallup said, with a hearty laugh.

After graduating in the ’60s, Gallup returned to BC as a member of the football staff in the ’70s. Since then, besides serving as Northeastern University’s football coach and athletic director in the ’90s, BC is all he’s ever known. Although he’s not coaching on the field anymore, he’s still doing what he loves-dealing with student-athletes. As the director of football operations, Gallup maintains relationships with high school teams and coaches, acts as a mentor and liaison for current players, and keeps former players connected to the school and the program. Former BC linebacker Bill Romanowski called him recently, saying he and his daughter, a high school junior lacrosse player, were coming to visit the school, so Gallup gladly showed them around.

“My job is to bring the past, present, and future together,” Gallup said.

Watching him work, it’s difficult to imagine anyone doing it better.

Gallup has been around for BC’s highest highs and lowest lows. The 2012 football season, when the Eagles went just 2-10, was nothing compared to 1978. Gallup was then an assistant under first year head coach Ed Chlebek. The Eagles had lost all 10 of their games, and for the final contest, BC took a bus down to New York, meeting the Temple team at JFK airport. The two squads shared a 747 to Tokyo, Japan, where the Owls beat the Eagles 28-24, forcing a winless season. To make things even worse, BC had to get back on the plane and travel across the Pacific Ocean while sitting right next to the Temple team that delivered the final defeat.

“They called it the Mirage Bowl,” Gallup said. “I wish it was a mirage so we couldn’t remember it.”

For all of the lows, though, there have been even more memorable highs. During Gallup’s first two years at BC, he was a two-sport athlete, playing football for Jim Miller and basketball for Celtics legend Bob Cousy. Although, if you mention to Gallup that he played for Cousy, he’ll politely clarify that it’s more accurate just to say he was on the team.

Football was his best sport. Players he would later coach have since eclipsed them, but when Gallup graduated, he held nearly every school receiving record. It’s a time that Gallup remembers fondly, if not a little longingly.

“You didn’t think as much about the future,” he said. “You didn’t think about the NFL-if those things happened, they happened. But we were playing Harvard, and Holy Cross, and Dartmouth, and Providence, and UMass, and Connecticut, and all the teams, and we had great rivalries.”

“My job is to bring the past, present, and future together”

A Swampscott native, Gallup over-annunciates the name of every school in a uniquely, deep-rooted Massachusetts grunt. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after he graduated with a marketing degree from the business school. The Boston Patriots selected him in the 11th round of the NFL Draft, but he gave up on his professional career rather quickly. While trying to sort things out, he taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade for a year, before he realized he wanted to get into coaching.

Coaches-from Cousy to Joe Yukica, the football coach his senior year at BC, to Jim Smith, the coach at Deerfield Academy during Gallup’s post-grad year at the school-had been such a major influence in his life that it made sense to Gallup to do the same thing. So, in 1971 Gallup came back to BC and coached the defensive line for nine seasons. Then, Jack Bicknell took over the team in 1981, and Gallup became the receivers’ coach, while also helping to recruit star players like Doug Flutie.

“If you look back at Boston College history, he was the centerpiece of all their recruiting,” Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone, who was an assistant under Gallup at Northeastern, told The New York Times. “He was the one who was able to get all those great quality players in there. I was able to learn about recruiting and how to act from a professional standpoint.”

Gallup’s goal has always been to make football fun. He’s competitive, sure, but he realizes that there’s a lot beyond what happens on the field. It’s something that Gallup brought with him to Northeastern. He knew that his team wasn’t going to be in bowl games or make it onto TV every year, but he wanted to give the players something to remember, so the Huskies took a trip every season. Gallup had them stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on the way to a game at Colgate. They went to the Football Hall of Fame another year when they played against Youngstown State in Ohio, and they even visited the Grand Canyon after playing at Northern Arizona.

Despite a significant age difference, Gallup has no trouble connecting with BC’s current players.

“My wife’s always said-I didn’t get married until I was 37-she said, ‘You had all these kids before,'” he said. “People used to tease me about that all the time, and that’s what I enjoy, the relationships, you know?”

He meets with each player at least once during the semester, but oftentimes it’s more than that. Parents call him frequently to check in.

Due to NCAA rules, his job doesn’t allow him to go off campus to recruit, but Gallup does help when recruits are brought to campus. He meets with all the families, makes presentations to visiting groups, and discusses BC’s tradition. He’s even closer with the alumni. Current head coach Steve Addazio can see when former players come back that they’re excited to be there and that Gallup has a good rapport with them. The relationships are what make him excited to come to work every day.

It’s not just the players with whom Gallup has a strong bond-it’s the coaches, too. Gallup has worked for seven different head coaches in his career. It was Tom O’Brien who eventually got him to return to his alma mater.

“I’ve got to get you back to BC,” O’Brien told him after Northeastern lost at BC 33-22 in October of 1999.

The prospect came up again that spring, and it took a few weeks for Gallup to decide. His wife, Victoria, asked him if he was sure he wanted to give up coaching the players on the field, and he wasn’t, but it was a chance to get back to BC, and it was a more stable situation. For Gallup, it was the right time to return. Since then, he’s stuck around through three head coaching changes in the last seven years, but he says the latest one, with Addazio, was different.

“[Jeff Jagodzinski] had never been a head coach,” Gallup said. “I would say, ‘Okay, this is how we did it under Tom O’Brien,’ and he would say, ‘Okay.’ A lot of the stuff was set in stone. We had a good team returning. We didn’t do any radical changes there. Then when [Frank Spaziani] came, we didn’t do many radical changes at all. He was a Tom O’Brien guy. We had done these things for 15 years, we were going to continue to do it. I wish he had brought some ideas. He didn’t do anything different. We just got stale. We didn’t have any change. We didn’t have any life. I’m not criticizing him, but Steve comes in, and he’s got a lot of ideas.”

Gallup and running back coach Al Washington were the only holdovers from Spaziani’s staff to Addazio’s, and Addazio took advantage of Gallup’s vast knowledge of the BC program and how to run a team-Gallup is one of the best at sharing ideas and picking up practices from other teams in the conference. The transition wasn’t always easy, however.

“He’s hard to work for, because he’s demanding, which is fine,” Gallup said. “The program needed discipline, it needed structure. He relies on me a lot, which I like.”

Addazio instituted a lot of changes. The team switched to morning practices, the players wear a shirt and tie to games, and they have a pre-game Mass in Gasson Hall on campus rather than at the team hotel. Some other changes are taking time, though, and Gallup has to remind Addazio to be patient.

“You’ve got to know who to push the buttons with, you’ve got to know how to get it done, and sometimes it’s going to take time,” Gallup said. “Not everything’s going to happen over night. He wants a new indoor facility-okay, we need a new indoor facility-but, it’s going to take time. There’re other things on campus that BC needs. He’s got to understand that.”

That’s what Addazio has Gallup for—Gallup understands how those things work. He’s open to the change and sees it as necessary, but he also knows what that kind of change takes. Addazio brought the new life, enthusiasm, and discipline into the program on the way to a successful 7-6 first season, but he needed Gallup to get there.

Although he’s received several calls during his career to move on and give the NFL a chance, Gallup never had that ambition.

“I didn’t want to go to that madness from job to job,” Gallup said. “I just wasn’t going to move our family.”

For his whole life, he’s never lived anywhere besides Massachusetts—an unheard-of claim for someone who has worked in football for this long. When Gallup and Victoria got married, the reception was at Lyons Hall. They met when he was an assistant coach and she was the secretary for basketball coach Gary Williams and hockey coach Len Ceglarski. Gallup has BC in his blood, but so does his family.

Gallup’s daughter, Lisa, loved BC. She helped work the summer football camps with him for 10 years. She’d walk to the Alumni Stadium end zone with him and stand on the field for the singing of the alma mater. She’d go home with Victoria after the games, but before that, she’d leave a note on his desk saying that she loved him and she’d see him at home.

Lisa was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2011. She and her brother Barry, Jr. had already gotten involved with Cycle for Survival, a charity in which teams ride spin bikes to raise money for rare cancer research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Lisa’s passion only grew after her stage IV sarcoma diagnosis. Cycle now has 13 locations across the country, but when Lisa got involved, there was no Boston event.

“It was really a dream of our daughter’s to have it brought to Boston,” Victoria said.

Lisa made Gallup promise that no matter what happened to her, he would continue her efforts to bring the event to the city they love. She died in December of 2012, but with the support of the Gallup family, the first Boston Cycle for Survival event took place two months later, in February of 2013.

“I have been fortunate to be in a lot of bowl games-I was with Doug Flutie when he won the Heisman trophy,” Gallup said at the event. “But Cycle for Survival is the most inspirational and emotional and inspiring event that I have ever been a part of. We are going to win this battle against cancer.”

Through the help of field hockey coach Ainslee Lamb, BC now hosts a satellite event on campus. The second year of the event took place yesterday, raising more than $10,000.

“Lisa’s memory is very important to me,” Gallup said. “It’s very important to BC that we do something, whether it’s our daughter or someone else.”

“Boston College, Brad Bates, Steve Addazio, they know that Barry has a broken heart, and they have been very kind to him,” Victoria said.
Gallup pushed forward to carry on his daughter’s dream and help support the football program during a time of major transition, and after more than 40 years watching BC grow, he’s still pushing to make it better.

Correction: The original version of this article stated that the BC football team finished with an 8-5 record in 2013. The team’s record was 7-6.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

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