In the fall of 1986, Boston University football captain Kevin Murphy was approached by a freshman walk-on offensive lineman. The freshman was undersized for his position, standing at a listed height of 5 foot, 10 inches, although Murphy noted that may have been generous.
He drove a vintage Dodge Dart, listened to 1950’s doo-wop music and donned a flat top hairstyle. When he was not in the weight room or practicing on BU’s Nickerson Field, he was lugging kegs at Who’s on First, a local bar near Fenway Park.
One day after practice, the freshman approached Murphy and told him “Captain, next year I want to get in the locker room with the carpet.” At the time, walk-ons were stuck in an area next to the showers and bathroom, without the carpeted floors of the main locker room. It was a lofty goal, but that did not deter him.
This freshman’s name was Dave DeGuglielmo, or “Guge,” as his teammates and players call him.
DeGuglielmo, who went on to play for BU for four years, has returned to coach college football in the Boston area for the first time in over a quarter-century. On Feb. 17, DeGuglielmo was named the new offensive line coach for the Boston College Eagles, just a B-line ride away from his alma mater.
“This is home. It’s great,” DeGuglielmo said of his return to Boston. He admitted that on his first week back he took a trip to BU staple pizzeria T Anthony’s, grabbing a few slices and finding two of his old pictures still on the wall.
DeGuglielmo was raised in Lexington, Massachusetts as one of three children. His father was a member of the building and grounds crew at BU. DeGuglielmo played on both the offensive and defensive line at Lexington High School, helping the Minutemen win two Middlesex League championships and a Massachusetts state championship berth in 1984.
DeGuglielmo committed to BU as a walk-on. He redshirted his freshman year, expanding his eligibility for an extra year. During his redshirt year, DeGuglielmo found his home in the weight room. He and fellow freshman offensive lineman Chris Doyle, who would go on to be the strength and conditioning coordinator at the University of Iowa for 21 years, bought into Terrier strength coach Mike Boyle’s “Body by Boyle” program. While some older teammates mocked the two for believing that Boyle was a strength and conditioning genius, the pair just put their heads down and continued to work.
“He was our strongest player and exemplified hard work… [DeGuglielmo] was described by one scout as ‘the best offensive lineman in 1 AA’,” Boyle said.
All that time in the weight room paid off for DeGuglielmo. He moved into the carpeted locker room in 1987 and remained there for the rest of his time as a Terrier. DeGuglielmo played both center and guard for the Terriers. He was named a team captain for the 1990 season and also earned Yankee Conference All-Academic Player twice and First Team All-New England in his four years in the scarlet and white.
During DeGuglielmo’s time as a Terrier, the program suffered from constant turnover. He played for three different head coaches and three different offensive line coaches in his four years.
“I got to see a lot of good stuff, and a lot of what not to do,” DeGuglielmo said.
One of DeGuglielmo’s offensive line coaches was former Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders’ head coach Tony Sparano. Sparano, who died in 2018, ended up becoming an influential friend and mentor to DeGuglielmo.
“He was more of a brother to me. He became like family…Tony to me was a special guy. Because I did play for him, I moved him into his apartment when he took the BU job. I moved him out of that one a year later and moved to another one. I babysat his kids. I changed their diapers,” DeGuglielmo said.
DeGuglielmo began his coaching career directly after graduating from BU as a graduate assistant at BC under head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive line coach Mike Maser, who turned out to be another mentor in DeGuglielmo’s coaching career.
DeGuglielmo remained at BC for two years before he was offered a new opportunity. Tony Sparano was promoted to offensive coordinator, and BU was looking for a new offensive line coach. DeGuglielmo went back down Comm. Ave and took the job for the same staff he played for a few years prior.
In his first year as offensive line coach, the Terriers went on to have a miraculous season, finishing the regular season undefeated for the first time in school history and beating the Kurt Warner-led Northern Iowa Panthers in the first round of the 1-AA playoffs. The Terriers lost to the Idaho Vandals in the quarterfinals, ending their season. DeGuglielmo stayed with BU until 1996.
Next, DeGuglielmo took a job as the offensive line at the University of Connecticut, working under Skip Holtz. He remained at UConn for two years before being hired by Skip Holtz’s father, Lou Holtz, to be the next offensive line coach at the University of South Carolina. DeGuglielmo remained with the Gamecocks for five seasons before moving into the pros.
DeGuglielmo followed Coughlin to the New York Giants to work as an assistant offensive line coach. He was a part of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII winning team, and coached multiple Pro-Bowlers during his time in New York.
DeGuglielmo departed New York in 2008 to follow his mentor Sparano to Miami when Sparano was named the head coach of the Dolphins. DeGuglielmo worked with first overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft Jake Long and helped Long reach four Pro Bowls in his time in Miami.
From there, DeGuglielmo continued to bounce around the league, working for the Jets, Patriots — winning his second Super Bowl — Chargers, Colts, while also returning to Miami and New York at points.
“Those guys have bought in quickly to him, to the way he’s coaching the fundamentals of technique,” Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley said of DeGuglielmo.
DeGuglielmo returns to Boston to continue the legacy of what he calls “O-Line U,” and to prepare his players for the eventual leap to the NFL.
“They’ve been very focused on how I communicate, how I teach the game, how I see the game. I want them to see the game like I see and communicate the same way I communicate which is not easy at first, but they’re coming along very quickly, because they’re smart kids,” DeGuglielmo said. “I’m not gonna teach these guys to a lower level because these guys are all respected pro players that are on their way…My whole mindset is, I’m teaching them like pros, because that’s where they’re going.”
Although he is now at BC, DeGuglielmo still holds a soft spot in his heart for the place he called home for almost a decade.
“I still love BU hockey. I still love Boston University as a school,” DeGuglielmo said. “I had a lot of good years over there as a player and as a coach. The school’s fabulous, the School of Education set me up for the career in coaching, which was great.”
Andrew you nailed it again. Dave turned me onto 50s doo-wop music on some long bus rides. My memory of the Guge is of a tough kid , a kid who had to earn everything. He was from a family of hard working folks. The most important thing I remember is he was a humble kid and would give the shirt off his back if you needed it .
What a great story! “Guge” made a difference in so many players lives. Glad he made it into the red carpeted locker room.
Amazingly detailed article, I was a freshman in 86 as well and Guge had a maturity and skill beyond his years. His commitment to the game has and still is paying dividends, the proof is in the pudding.