Final countdown at BC has begun

The routine was the same. Early pre-game meal. Eagle Walk journey through campus to the Stadium. Pre-game warm-up. Kick-off.

Frank Spaziani knows the routine as well as anyone at Boston College. Fifteen years at The Heights, including the last 4 seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, qualifies Spaziani as a PhD in BC tradition.

But Saturday was different. It wasn’t just the final home game of another season. It just wasn’t the annual Senior Day festivities.

It was the end of the Spaziani era at BC. Oh, not officially. That could come in the next few days or, at the latest, in another week following the Eagles’ final game of the season at North Carolina State

But Saturday’s 30-23 overtime loss at Alumni Stadium to Virginia Tech sealed the deal. Not the end result. With a 2-9 record, BC’s fate has long been settled this season.

It was the way the game ended. Not with a bang, nor a whimper, but with a cascade of boos from what remained of the crowd of 34,266 as they watched the Eagles play out the final plays of regulation time in the most non-aggressive manner, 

Consider the situation: a  2-8 team, in front of a home crowd,  kicker Nate Freese, who had missed only two attempts all SEASON, and who had been alread made  field goals of 36, 35  and 42 yards.

But BC chose to play conservative, playing timid, playing not to lose, or at least force overtime, rather than taking a “go-for it” attitude.

And no one liked it. Not the crowd, not the critics who have wailed for Spaziani’s departure for most of the season.

 Even new BC AD Brad  Bates, who will make the final decision on when a change is made, looked puzzled when the Eagles, with a pair of time outs, and more  than a minute left in regulation time,  chose to play safe.

As the game moved into overtime, Bates stood in the end zone and watched as Tech won on a 7-yard TD pass from Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas to tight end Randall Dunn, on a play that Tech Coach Frank Beamer said the Hokies had not used all season and was only in the play book as a two-point conversion option.

When the Eagles came up empty on fourth down on their overtime series, Bates walked quickly out of the stadium.

Spaziani explained the conservative nature of the final minute of regulation by saying the Eagles plan was to run a quick draw play with Dudeck ( starter Rolandan  Finch, who re-emerged with a solid 133 yard game had been sidelined with a hamstring injury) going up the middle. If that play gained some yardage, Spaziani said the Eagles were ready to go into their two-minute game-winning plan offense.

But after Dudeck was stuffed after only a 2-yard gain (on the same play, in which he ran for  12-yard go-ahead 4th quarter TD), the Eagles went conservative in the final 40 seconds.

“There were a lot of factors that were involved,” said Spaziani .”We ran the draw hoping we were going to get a good play on first down and then we were going to up-tempo it. They could have made us punt, we could have thrown  an incompletion. We could have wound up punting and they kick a field goal and the game is over. We could have done some positive stuff. We were backed up and we felt our better chance was to go into overtime.”

The Eagles did get into overtime and lost and now Bates will decide the next chapter in a season which has not had many positive notes.

Make no mistake, Bates is already well into the evaluating and search process. Last week he met off campus with a group of advisors to talk about plans for the future of BC football.  He has put together a list of potential replacements for Spaziani, who still has three-years remaining on his contract.

According to sources familiar with the process, Bates and Friends will  make it a three-tier search.

Included are  candidates who are probably not really interested, but might listen, a second group of coaches with head coaching experience at major FBS schools and a third group of coordinators and coaches from non BCS guarantee leagues such as the Mid-American conference

According to sources, the names at the top of the wish list include Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen and Miami coach Al Golden. None of those coaches would seem to be inclined to leave their jobs for BC.

The next group of coaches, who might consider a move, include Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin.  Again, Bates will probably have to do some heavy recruiting.

The third group, which seems most likely to produce a coach, could include people such as Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco,  and Northern Illinois coach Dave Doreen.

 Other names, such as former UMass coach Mark Whipple and Harvard coach Tim Murphy could also be included in the list. That story line will unfold in the next several days.

BC has been remarkable in its ability to absorb disappointment  like a sponge and bounce back into game form.

Admittedly, the latest loss will take some time. “This one is going to hurt” said middle linebacker Nick Clancy, who bounced back from a concussion suffered last week and led the Eagles’ defense with 20 tackles. “It was my last home game at BC and I wanted it to be special. But I walk away from here with no regrets. It doesn’t get much worse than that being my last home game, to fight that hard until the very end to come up short at the end.”

The Eagles provided hope for much of the afternoon for their fans, taking 13-3 lead in the first half and then overcoming a Tech comeback in which the Hokies regained the lead 17-16 in the final quarter, only to see the lead and then the chance to win the game disappear.

A week from now, BC’s season from hell will also disappear.


© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  31 comments for “Final countdown at BC has begun

  1. Ben Dover
    November 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Blauds, how can you not ask Spaz about the final drive in regulation? Kudos to Greg for actually asking Spaz a probing question.

    • Mark
      November 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

      the question was asked on saturday. His response was in my story. It was asked again on sunday, but it was pointless. the game was over, the game was lost. the die has been cast on spaz at bc, so what was the point. you are so focused on your hatred of spaz, you can’t see anything else. move on. its over. he was asked about. he defended his moves. OK. what next?

  2. jason
    November 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    As a a BC alum, I appreciate the 15 years of service Spaz has given the school. How rare to serve as DC under two different HCs at the same place, then get the gig yourself.
    Some of his defenses over the years were just incredible, and I was happy when he got the job after Jags’s departure, but I guess he was just one of those guys much better suited to a coordinator role instead of being a head coach. I hope he stays in coaching somewhere and lands a DC job and builds another great defensive tradition.
    I have to say I haven’t seen too many HCs with body language as bad as Spaz when the camera is on him at a critical juncture. You don’t have to act like a crazed lunatic on the sidelines, but he just appeared disinterested at times, even though I am sure that is just his demeanor.

  3. ryan
    November 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

    good article mark, i know a lot of people on here are very frustated with spaz, which is an understatement and when you were sticking up for him it hurt the fans but it is great that we have someone like you who obviously cares a lot about boston college. so keep it up, lets move on from the spaz era. he was a great dc for bc who loved bc and gave it his all but he was not cutout to be a head coach and we should we blaming gene for hiring him and making the lazy and easy choice. spaz was never head coach material and never should have been. i am not a fan of spaz, he has been lazy with the recruiting, terrible at dealing with the players and even worse at motivating and time management. and he is the last scape goat with gene gone. good luck to spaz in the rest of his life, keep it up mark, more articles about bc are always appreciated

    • Mark
      November 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      thanks for reading. bc needs more fans like you and less “fans” like the idiots over at eagle outsider.

  4. jeffrey maciejowski
    November 18, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Mark…….I am encouraged by the names on Bates’ list……but find it hard to believe that Whipple is on it. The group of friends meeting with Bates, are they former BC players or people he knows from the “college football arena?”……

    • Mark
      November 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Mixture of people. It’s more whipple being interested than the other way around. The BC insiders are not currently on staff, but former BC players, students who are in the mix in college athletics.

  5. Peter Goesinya
    November 18, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Boston College has a football program? Really?

  6. George
    November 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Mark – you are right, the Spaz era is over.

    Why? Spaz was not good at his job; he had no instinct for the jugular; he did not understand how football has changed; the game moved while he stayed in concrete; he lacked support; he was grossly inarticulate and completely lacked insight about BC football

    Wait, come to think of it, this all applies to you. STAN, it’s you.

    So Mark, when Spaz goes, please join him. You, and Spaz, and TOB and Tranquill will makea handsome foresome (do u golf?

    Best of luck in your retirement, you lucky hack.

    • Mark
      November 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      thanks for reading

  7. SectionT
    November 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    How’s that friend of yours working out for you now?

    • Mark
      November 18, 2012 at 7:39 am

      Its amazing that you seem to take joy in other people’s misery. But then again, maybe its not so amazing.

      • CAG
        November 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

        i thought you werent even going to speculate on potential head coaches until we knew for sure that spaz was gone?

        • Mark
          November 18, 2012 at 10:19 am

          You truly are challenged in lots of areas. I react to what happens. And what happenned is that the new AD met with a group of people last week and talked about possible coaches. It happened. I found out about and found out the names and reported it. Go out and campaign for romney.

          • CAG
            November 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm

            that has nothing to do with the fact that you said you wouldn’t speculate on potential new coaches until the current idiot who calls himself our head coach vacated the position.

  8. jeffrey maciejowski
    November 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    What SPAZ did the last minute of the game was absolutely horrible. When Bates first arrived, I was all for SPAZ staying until the end of the season…….I would fire him Monday morning.

  9. nate
    November 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    No way in hell any of those current head coaches come here. BC is cheap cheap cheap w coaches

    • azbc
      November 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      I disagree. BC is paying Spaz $1.1M per year, which was way above market for a then-61-year old career assistant with no other head coaching options. The true market was probably half that. Plus BC will have a little extra cash to throw around now that they’re saving money on the AD’s salary.

  10. anonymous
    November 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Appreciate the fact your putting your journalism ahead of friends. From what I hear Spaz is a great guy, but a awful head coach and these players deserve more

  11. CAG
    November 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    World English Dictionary
    coward (ˈkaʊəd)

    — n
    a person who shrinks from or avoids danger, pain, or difficulty

    Spaz quote as to why he did what he did on last drive: “They could have made us punt, we could have thrown an incompletion, wound up punting, they kick a field goal, win the game and the game is over.”

  12. CAG
    November 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    i love how blauds tried to call me out for calling spaz a coward a few weeks ago. i dont think theres a better word to describe that last series in regulation than cowardly.

  13. B
    November 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Great piece Mark. Thanks for the detail on the coaching search – can’t wait to hear the result!

    • Mark
      November 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm


  14. Joe Crum
    November 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Coach Bluto should have been fired at the end of regulation. What a gutless moron.

  15. MaroonNGold
    November 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Well, from the comments that bracket my post, it is clear that the compassion train has long ago left the BC fandom station.

  16. MaroonNGold
    November 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    A sad day all around for all Eagles.

    This day reminds me of Gerry Faust’s final game at ND, a lopsided loss to Jimmy Johnson’s Miami team.

    Faust was interviewed on TV before the game, and struck me as begging for a job.

    With no connection to ND then or now, I was moved to write him a letter, wishing him well. To my surprise, within a week I got an upbeat reply (with a handwritten “JMJ” at the top of the ND football stationery; those who were taught by nuns through the 1960s recognize the meaning of those initials). He thanked me for the note, said that he was grateful for his time @ ND and believed that the future would be OK. That says much about the character and humility of the man.

    I had never heard of Jimmy Johnson before, but I gained a sense of him as a bully, as he needlessly ran up the score (if I recall right, it was something like 51-7) over a beaten man.

    Though Johnson went on to NFL success and is a moneyed analyst today, I’d rather have 1 friend of the personal qualities of Gerry Faust than 100 of the Johnson stripe.

    I don’t know Spaz, but I likewise hope that he fares well in his future. As I’ve opined before, IMHO the deck was long ago stacked against him because of the perception about the school that our recently departed AD and the incumbent president have fostered around the nation and college sports community. And unless there is another change at the top of institutional “leadership” staffing at The Heights, the next coach will labor under the same crushing handicap that ended the Spaz era.

    • Ben Dover
      November 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Stop, Spaz dug his own grave. Check out how Montel did today.

      The kid was a warrior for this school and Spaz smeared his name on the way out after cashing in a contract extension because of him.

      • Mark
        November 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        Spaz did not smear his name. You seriously have problems. Get a hobby.

      • Mark
        November 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        Spaz did not smear his name. you have problems. get a hobby

    • Joe Crum
      November 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Shut up.

  17. Ben Dover
    November 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Once a pussy, always a pussy.

    2-8 and he’s playing for OT at home. That’s how you impress your new boss. This fucking dolt better not walk my alma mater’s sideline again

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