Football at BC doesn’t matter any more this season

The elephant is not only in the room, he is sitting at the head of the table and he is running the show. Boston College has two games remaining in the 2012 season. The Eagles could beat Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to finish with a 4-8 record. They could lose both to finish with a 2-10 record. They could win one and lose one to finish with a 3-9 record.

None of it matters.

The Eagles can talk about how they will shrug off Saturday’s 21-6 loss to Notre Dame and begin preparation for Virginia Tech on Saturday.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is what happens when the season is over. What direction does the program take and who will run it?

It will not be Frank Spaziani.  Now it is simply a question of how new BC athletic director Brad Bates conducts the business of making the change.

All the critics out there who have wanted Spaziani’s head on a platter can put their voices on mute. All the critics who are more reasonable and simply say that a good man didn’t do a good enough job, can also tone it down.

It is time to move on.  In some places, Spaziani would have been fired and either an interim coach would be running the show or a lame duck coach would be finishing out the season.

That is not the BC way. The Eagles don’t fire very many people in midstream.  They either resign, retire or take medical leaves of absence. In almost every instance, the silence is golden mentality is rewarded with additional pay checks.

And when they are fired, BC writes checks to pay off the remainder of their contracts

If you check out the list of coaches that BC has funded AFTER they have left their jobs, you could probably fund a third-world country.

When there is the hint of a controversy, such as developed when former BC offensive line coach Jim Turner abruptly resigned only a few months after new BC football coach Jeff Jagodzinski hired him, the reward for keeping quiet is an additional year of pay.

Jagodzinski was one of the few coaches BC actually did say they fired. That was because Jagodzinski simply broke a verbal, if not written committment with former BC AD Gene DeFilippo, who asked for  minimum a three-year committment to BC football .

After two years, which produced two ACC Division titles, Jagodzinski did what he had always wanted to do before he was hired. He flirted with the NFL about a head job. He also lied to DeFilippo about what he was doing. He was fired.

DeFilippo then went about the business of finding a replacement and chose Spaziani, whose loyalty to BC and work ethic can not be questioned.

But at 61 he was a rookie head coach.  He made some mistakes in coaching. He made some mistakes in hiring. He made some mistakes in recruiting. He also did a few things right. He maintained the integrity of the program with good kids, who fight their way through adversity.

Anyone who says that the latest version of BC football is a team that has stopped playing, stopped trying, is either blind or an idiot or perhaps both.

In a season which has been filled with injuries and mistakes and simply bad luck, the Eagles have not lost their focus. They were trying as hard at the end of Saturday night’s game as they were at the beginning. That is a testament to not only the players, but the coaching staff.

It didn’t get any better on Sunday as the Eagles confirmed that wide receiver Bobby Swigert is done for the season with a knee injury that will sideline him for months and that the team’s leading tackler, middle linebacker Nick Clancy, suffered a concussion against Notre Dame.

The BC medical staff does not fool around with concussions.  Clancy’s return date remains iffy at best.

Make no mistakes, there have been obstacles to overcome,  many of them created by Spaziani.

Start with the instability of the staff itself.  In four years, BC has had four different offensive coordinators, which is not the way to succeed in business even if you are really trying.

A year ago, newly hired offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers took a medical leave of absence that has yet to be explained by anyone at BC.

Rogers has recovered enough to resume his coaching career as an assistant at Temple. But the rumors of a wild physical confrontation in the locker  room after a 30-3  BC loss at Central Florida last season continue to simmer.  There might have been angry words spoken following the game, but actual physical contact? Please.

Rogers was actually ill–spitting up blood. Maybe it was the stress of working at job where things weren’t working the way he wanted them to work.

For his continued silence on the matter, Rogers was compensated by BC.

Spaziani finally brought unity and domestic tranquility to the staff this season. when he hired offensive coordinator Doug Martin who has revitalized the BC offense and QB Chase Rettig’s career. He also made several other changes. The mood in the coach’s room is much better than it was a year ago in terms of  getting along.

Again, this was part of the learning process of a first-time head coach.

Unfortunately for Rettig, a change at head coach will no doubt mean dealing with his fifth offensive coordinator in four years.

So how is all going to play out?

BC will play its final two games. BC officials will talk with Spaziani about a settlement–he has three years remaining on his contract.  An announcement will be made shortly after BC finishes its season at North Carolina State on Nov 24th.

Bates will say the usual things about conducting a search for the best coach. He will have a list.

There are some obvious and not so obvious candidates.  Bates could go in several directions, but he has to find a coach who can fit BC’s culture as well as its football needs.

The die-hard BC fans don’t want to hear this, but in the grand scheme of football facilities, academic requirements and fan support, BC is a lower tier job, ranking at the bottom of the ACC.

That does not mean that BC can’t win.  Tom Coughlin and Tom O’Brien both proved that.  And BC can get players who make a difference, whether that is a Doug Flutie, a Matt Ryan or a Luke Kuechly.

But BC also needs someone who can sell the program as well as coach the players.

Who knows what direction Bates will follow. There will be people who whisper names in his ear. He might hear former UMass coach Mark Whipple, who was a finalist four years ago and is now the QB coach for the Cleveland Browns, he could hear names such as Harvard coach Tim Murphy, who certainly knows how to deal with the academic issues, knows how to win and yes, knows how to recruit BC type kids.

Maybe there is a hot young coach from the Mid-American Conference where Bates cut his teeth as an AD at Miami of Ohio. Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doreen seems to be the flavor of the day.

And then there is the hot young coordinator from a major school. Don’t be surprised if you see Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s name on many wish lists.

But the best bet would be to check any coaches who have ties to Bates and the name that keeps coming up the most is Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who was at Miami of Ohio as an assistant when Bates was the AD in 2003.

There will be other names, but not that many since the pool of candidates who can actually fit is fairly shallow. Don’t expect Bobby Petrino or Jon Gruden  to walk through the gates of Alumni Stadium.  Don’t expect Miami coach Al Golden to decide that he has had enough at Miami and come north to BC, where he was once an assistant, unless the NCAA decides to shut down the Hurricane program for violations past and present.

BC needs a good coach who can do great things.  Frank  Spaziani is a good coach. He didn’t do great things.  And while his critics have been pounding on him for what he did or didn’t do, Spaziani has  maintained his professionalism. He has not embarrassed the school–and stop the blather that the way BC plays football under Spaziani is embarrassing the school. The only thing that BC is doing wrong is not winning enough games. The BC kids and coaches have been and will continue to be class acts. Spaziani has not cried “Woe is me. What should I do.” He has kept his team focused. He has tried to his job.

It hasn’t been good enough. So be it.  It is time to move on. While the chatter on  Sunday and for the next two weeks will be about beating Virginia Tech and beating North Carolina State, it will be just that, chatter.

It doesn’t mean anything. It is not about football any more this season.It is about how to fix what is broke and who can fix it best.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  28 comments for “Football at BC doesn’t matter any more this season

  1. Nate
    November 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    you did not go to BC, stop telling us alums how we should feel. It’s our school and football program, not yours and Spaz is an embarrassment of a head coach

  2. MacGruber
    November 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    What the hell are you talking about the “BC WAY” ??????

    People who underperform in their jobs get fired all the time. You got fired from the Globe, GDF got fired from BC, and Spaz is next up.

    I dont understand how GDF making excuses for HIS BAD HIRES (by saying changes are made because of medical reasons) makes that the BC way.

    I think Bates should make a point to FIRE SPAZ. Not let him retire. Not set up something on the side and let him bow out. Fire him for ruining this program and pay him. Stop allowing these coaches to get out of here with excuses.

    However GDF or ol’ Blauds try to spin it, these people under performed and GOT FIRED. Anyone who looks at them in the future will know they got fired because they were bad at their jobs.

    • Mark
      November 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Fired from the Globe? You want to check that one out Sparky. You aren’t BC worthy as a fan.

    • Mark
      November 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      Continue to comment on stuff you know nothing about like BC football.

  3. Tom
    November 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Hey Mark,

    Thanks for writing about BC football. One thing I don’t understand about your post here is that if there was no physical confrontation between Spaz and Rogers, why would BC need to compensate Rogers to get him to keep quiet? What would he be keeping quiet about if he was truly sick? How would his being sick negatively affect BC and thus require BC to compensate him to keep him quiet?

    The way I see it, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Even if Spaz didn’t punch or headbutt Rogers, something happened where he crossed a line, as Bruce Feldman had reported. There are just too many rumors out there that even if only half of them are half-true, it’s still bad. Otherwise. why would BC be compensating him to keep him quiet?

    Thanks again.

  4. Joe Crum
    November 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm–mike-leach–tommy-tuberville-just-two-examples-of-coaches-who-take-authority-too-far.html

    Physical abuse of any kind indicates a coach who has lost control.

    We saw a good example of the difference earlier Saturday, when Leach’s replacement at Texas Tech, Tommy Tuberville, slapped a graduate assistant’s headset and cap off after a fourth-down penalty in a double-overtime win against Kansas. Yelling at the G.A. for a screw-up is par for the coaching course. It’s almost cliché. Tuberville, however, raised his left hand and swung it at his subordinate. Asked about the incident after the game, Tuberville offered a weak and thoroughly unconvincing excuse.

    Tuberville deserves at least a suspension for the remaining two games of the season. Head coaches are paid a mint to make their players better on and off the field. Running sprints or stadium steps can do that. Physical humiliation of any kind, however, whether by sending a player into a closet or slapping a coach’s headset, is an abdication of responsibility. No excuses, no exceptions.

  5. MaroonNGold
    November 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm


    I must need new glasses.

    I actually thought that you wrote that BC does not fire many coaches.

    How about this long (and partial) list, whether literally fired or driven away:

    Both O’Briens


    • Mark
      November 12, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      I think I said that BC doesn’t make a practice of firing coaches in mid season.

      • Joe Crum
        November 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

        There’s no time like the present.

      • MaroonNGold
        November 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm


        Here is what you wrote:

        “That is not the BC way. The Eagles don’t fire very many people.”

        They sure DO.

  6. Bob Dash
    November 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Spaz was not and is not a good head coach. You can keep saying he was a good man or in a tough situation or whatever you want. There is not another BCS program in the nation that would have hired Spaz. It was a terrible decision the day it was announced. Spaz made bad hires (see the move to hire Tranq). He went 40 years without getting a head coaching job for a reason. If it were not for Gene D, he would never have had the job.

    Yes, time to move on. No, BC is not the lowest job in the ACC. It might feel like it right now. With the talent Spaz has left behind, no question BC is at the bottom of the ACC ladder. But that can and will change.

  7. George
    November 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Mark, your friend is a fool. Not a good coach and not a decent man. He is a disgrace. Do decent men ruin young lives and punch people in the face? Stupid is not a virtue either

    Also, your comments hat BC is the worst place to coach in ACC is a joke. Would a coach prefer NCSU, MD, WF, Duke? No, nobody would. Edsall begged for the BC job and settled for Terp-itude.

    And the coaches going for a Clemson and FSU would not be BC acceptable. Academics actually matter, as does class.

    When Spaz goes please leave with him. Really. Beat it. You are not BC worthy. Never were either. Go cover UConn or UNH or anyplace else.

    • Mark
      November 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Classy as usual.

  8. BCHerbert
    November 12, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Great article, Mark!
    You are correct in that there are so many hot young coaches out there….willing to take the BC job. Diaco is the hottest right now and BC should hire him. He fits the mold. Works out, is intelligent, great hair to boot and can recruit…..mmmmmmm….one can only wish to have him….on the sidelines next year.

  9. BCEagles66
    November 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I spoke with several former players at the game. They stated that a couple of them witnessed Spaz headbut and upper cut Rodgers.

    Now I was not there, so it is still hear-say. But these weren’t disgruntled, dismissed players.

  10. CAG
    November 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    spaz is a good coach based on what? and i thought you werent going to speculate on names until things were finalized.

  11. Dennis
    November 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Mark’s Dad-we can agree to disagree but we really don’t disagree. We both want the program to thrive and we both want what’s best for BC. It hurts to see BC being a laughingstock and although I don’t think BC is a destination job, I do agree that it can be a good job for a young, aspiring coach. In the last 2 years we have lost to Duke,Army, Wake and Northwestern, not to mention ND, Clemson, FSU, VaTech and NC State. That is inexcusable. They lost to ND last year by 4 points and easily could have won it. This all lands at the feet of the coach and really, as I said before, at the feet of GDF. He ruined this program and I am glad he is gone.

    Look, I think the program, if we get the right coach, can rebound in about 3 years. But in the meantime, we need to reinvigorate the program. My father, uncle, brother, cousin and second cousin as well as myself went to BC. My ex wife went there too (let’s leave that sore spot alone, shall we?)…I bleed maroon and gold. It sucks that we are 2-8 and possibly will be 2-10. But I think we need to not only get a new coach, we need to take on a swashbuckler mentality to scheduling. I went to BC in the late 70’s and early 80’s. My brother went there in the mid 80’s (Flutie years, lucky basatard) and BC was playng teams like Texas, Texas A&M, USC, Penn State, Miami, Ohio State, Alabama, TCU, SMU, Michigan, Michigan State, etc. Point is they played agressive schedules that people wanted to see. Not the BS they have been throwing out there in recent years (non conference crap against MAC teams and old Yankee Conference foes). Picking up tOSU is great but they need more of it. I look at the 1987 schedule and besides the old BE foes, BC played TCU, ND, USC, Penn State and Tennessee that year. You think BC would set up a non conference schedule like that under GDF…of course not. But guess what? That schedule rocked and people cared about the program. And you know what? recruits liked it too. Just think if you could sell a recruit a BC education, the BC co-eds (look, they are pretty hot, even for an old coot like me), the ACC and a non conference schedule of ND, USC, Ohio State and say a Stanford. That is pretty damn good. Do all that and get a dynamic coaching staff in there and we will be OK. I’m with you Mark’s Dad. We aren’t that far apart.

    Jeff-thanks. Let’s move forward, shall we????

  12. Mark's Dad
    November 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Mark…a thought provoking article. Thank you.

    A few things.

    First, to be fair to Spaz, the fact that he won 8 games his first year was very good. He deserves credit for that. And he like you have written before, he deserves thanks for his service to the University.

    On the subject of the next coach, let me say this. As a threshold matter, we just disagree that BC is a lower tier job in the ACC. It is very true that the facilities and stadium and fan support in the Boston area are not as competitive with some other programs in the conference. But let me ask you…how many schools in the conference have had a Heisman winner, an Outland winner, a Butkis winner? How many schools went to twelve or thirteen bowls in a row? How many schools in the conference have been ranked in the top two in the past ten years? How many schools have had two quarterbacks in the NFL who made the pro bowl? I would respectfully submit to you that other than Clemson, FSU, and possibly Va Tech, there is no school in the conference that has more football prestige than BC. BC is only one of two D1 catholic schools in the country–as you have noted. There are a ton of kids who go to catholic high schools throughout the country. Not all of them can get into ND and some are good football players who don’t want to go there. There are plenty of kids in Ohio, Texas and California that believe in the BC brand. BC can get kids from those states and get kids from the South too. A good coach who plays a good brand of football on both sides of the ball, who has charisma, who inspires and who brings good assistants could easily bring BC back. He just needs to recruit, and recruit and recruit. BC is a school which matriculated Brian Toal, William Greene, and Matt Ryan. You don’t think we can get good players at BC? WE CAN!. Really, the only impediment to getting kids are the academic requirements. BC will be on tv a ton. It has a cool campus, it’s in a cool college city, and despite what others may think, it’s the only real football program in the North East. And it’s not competing with a basketball program for top dog.

    BC just needs a guy with charisma who can go into kids homes and sell them. It needs a coach who inspires kids. It needs a coach who kids can approach when they are struggling. And he needs to coach a brand of football where kids want to play. If the administration wants the football program to succeed, this is what will happen. BC has a good brand Mark. They don’t need Tom Coughlin to win. They just need to get a coach who wills the right criteria.

  13. Joe Crum
    November 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Blaus said: “Frank Spaziani is a good coach. He didn’t do great things. And while his critics have been pounding on him for what he did or didn’t do, Spaziani has maintained his professionalism. He has not embarrassed the school–and stop the blather that the way BC plays football under Spaziani is embarrassing the school. The only thing that BC is doing wrong is not winning enough games. ”

    You are an idiot. How can you post this crap? How many kids has Spaz run out of town? How many coaches ran for the hills to get away from this guy? What happened with Rogers? Montel. Five OC’s in four years. Craptastic recruiting. Benching Deuce most of the season when their running game sucks. This is professional behavior? Have you seen any of his interviews? He barely makes sense? You and your friend suck.

  14. jeffrey maciejowski
    November 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Dennis…..excellent post……you have stated what BC Football fans have felt for the past few years.

    I just hope that Fr Leahy will allow Brad Bates to spend the money necessary to hire a quality head coach and upgrade the facilities. Hopefully Bates received assurances before he accepted the job.

    • Joe Crum
      November 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      if he didn’t get those assurances the he is a dope and BC is in big trouble.

  15. Tim
    November 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Good article Mark. The only thing I disagree with is the embarrassing the school part. It’s not just the record that’s embarrassing but also the number of players and coaches who have left for reasons unknown, as you alluded to. I know many former players who not only are embarrassed, but also dislike Spaz in general for the way some of their former teammates were dismissed. Considering that you did not go to BC, stop telling us alums how we should feel. It’s our school and football program, not yours and Spaz is an embarrassment of a head coach and our program is an embarrassment to the school. All it takes is a trip to Shea Field and a conversation with the few alums left out there and you will see that it is an embarrassment.

  16. Dennis
    November 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    When GDF fired Jags, he killed this program. The carcass is washing up on the beach now. In college coaching or pro for that matter, the loyalty of a coach lasts for the current employer until the next job opportunity comes along. It is a nomadic existence and the fraternity of coaches knows that. Other than about 10 college programs live by this creed. When you fire a guy for applying for another job because you feel he is disloyal…you send a resounding message to the coaching fraternity: This job sucks, stay away from it.

    BC is a stepping stone job. We all know that. It is a mid level BCS job and can be a great job for an up and coming coach. It is a 4-5 year position while the HC hopefully churns out winning teams and pads his resume for the next job, a pro position (Tom Coughlin) or the particular coach’s dream college job (Joe Yukicka going to Dartmouth in the day, TOB going to NC State). It is what it is.

    By firing Jags the way he did and making that loyalty speech to the media at that surreal press conference, GDF killed BC football. No one in their right mind would go near the job and work for a guy like him. So, BC was left with looking at a 61 year old career assistant who wouldn’t make waves, wouldn’t jump ship, was getting a huge pay raise and had the his back covered by his boss. In the process, recruitng slipped, assistants came and went and the program fell apart. There were many, many coaches who would have been better fits and perhaps would have ocntinued to keep the program moving forward. We will never know but what we do know now is that the program has bottomed out and promoting Spaz was a mistake.

    Obviously it is time to make a change and see where this program can go. This will be the biggest hire of a BC football coach in the history of the program. Why? Because the world of college football at the BCS level is a new world. Lots of money at stake, bowl revenue sharing, national exposure, etc. If this hire fails, BC will be the Vandy of the ACC. It CAN be the Northwestern or Stanford of the ACC if it wants to (upgrading facilities, bringing tailgating back to all campuses, marketing the program appropriately) but the biggest thing is the team itself and that starts with the head coach. I don’t know who they will tap but they need a young, bright, aggressive guy who isn’t afraid to dare to do new and innovative things…that brings excitement back. Brad Bates cannot get this wrong.

    • Mark's Dad
      November 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm


      Almost every college program is a stepping stone. Did Pete Carrol stay at USC? How long do you think Chip Kelly will be at Oregon? How long will Brian Kelly be at ND? How long was Urban Meyer at Florida? How long did Nick Saban stay anywhere? In this day and age, you should never expect any coach to stay more than ten years at their current gig, and most will stay a lot less. It’s just not the nature of the business–with extremely rare exceptions.

      BC is not a midlevel BCS job. We just disagree. BC certainly won’t be a perennial top ten team. But BC was in or banging on the door of a top 25 team for years. That’s not midlevel BCS, it’s much better. Wake Forest is a mid level BCS Job. Baylor is a mid level BCS job. There are others. We do agree that we need an exciting coach who coaches a good brand of football on both sides of the ball..and a guy who can recruit. If that happens, everything else will take care of itself.

  17. SpazWastedMySeason
    November 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

    You are what your record says you are. Over Spaz’s 4 years at BC he has a losing record and his team has gotten progressively worse with his recruits. Spaz has been an utter failure as a head coach, even you say in your article that he mismanaged his coaching staff but then you call him a “good” coach. Since when do good coaches have losing records, punch their OCs and fail to recruit ACC level players?

  18. Alex A
    November 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

    For BC football trying to stay relevant…the fight goes continues. Wow! What a dump of a program. Will be three years before they can compete for a division title. Maybe more.
    Thanks Spaz…Thanks GDF…what a brilliant move to fire Jags

  19. Phil_Elmassian_Score-a-thon
    November 11, 2012 at 11:33 am

    One glaring similarity between Spaz and Henning – numerous player suspensions. Say what you want, but personnel problems like that always indicate a respect issue inside the program. Henning was, by all accounts, a class guy, but he ran the program into the ground and the players knew it was a rudderless ship. So too is the program under Spaz…performance on the field, recruiting off the field, fannies in the seats, relevance on a national scale.
    The only thing we agree on is that it really isn’t Spaz’s fault…it’s Gene’s fault for hiring him after his ‘National Search’.

  20. AndrewtheViking
    November 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Mark, I have to give you a lot of credit, this was a very well written article and a fair and knowledgable assessment of the program. I give you a lot of credit for acknowledging that spaz’s tenure hasn’t worked out and that is probably not an easy thing to admit. I was pretty mad at the way things have gone under spaz but after last night I realize its about a fresh start.

    To my fellow alums: dont be mad at spaz, be mad at the administration who let this happened. The guy is a lame duck of all lame ducks and they keep running him out there- it would have been better if they just let him go and start the search now. Instead, they’re just running him out there like you would a baseball pitcher whose given up 11 runs and you don’t want to use the bullpen. I was pissed with his coaching last year when everyone else told me to give it time, so instead of jumping on the “fire spaz” band wagon go talk to his bosses.

    Regardless, for those of you (like me) who are particularly upset of how the program became so ruined after 4 years of spaz, let the administration know. I got 3 emails asking to donate since last week, what about you guys? If even 100 of us say we are unimpressed with the way things have gone in football, that might mean something.

    At the end of the day, what this administration fails to realize is that Notre Dame is ND because of their football success (historically). For all the obsession we and the BC administration has with ND and being better than ND, they fail to realize that the impense popularity of ND comes from its football team. Why no one in father leahy’s ear can figure that out, I am not sure.

    And call me a crazy fan, but the reason I care so deeply about the football team is because tailgating and bowls are the kind of college experiences that people love, and the types of way to interact with your alma mater that alums enjoy.

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