BC players remain committed to Spaziani

The Boston College football season has one game remaining–Saturday at North Carolina State. But despite the Eagles’ 2-9 record, the BC players, as well as embattled Coach Frank Spaziani, have maintained the same focus and the same belief in what they term, “the process.”

Spaziani, who replaced Jeff Jagodzinski in 2009, has watched the Eagles’ win total steadily decline in the past few years, sinking to the 2-9 BC takes into the NC State game.

“You have to believe in the process,” said senior offensive tackle Emmett Cleary. “A lot of this isn’t Coach’s fault. I hope he has his job at the season opener.”

Cleary said he and his teammates have spent lots of time trying to analyze why things turned out differently then they had hoped.

“We have talked about this hundreds of times among the older guys,” said Cleary “I think a lot of these games were lost 3 or 4 years ago when my  signing class was,  I think 36, including walk ons. I think there are nine of us left. It’s hard to win when you don’t have experienced players and experienced depth. We have had a lot of young players have really played their asses off the last couple of years, but I think you prefer to have those guys redshirt and have experienced back ups when injuries and losses happen.”

“There is some attrition any time there is a coaching change. Certain guys came to play for Coach Jags and just decided it wasn’t for them when he left

“The first year we were here, we were in the ACC championship game and a lot of guys from our class didn’t understand what it took to get there. A lot guys expected to play a lot right away and expected that it would be easy and you know guys who weren’t playing enough their second year, weren’t starting by their third year took that as a shot at their self-confidence and felt they weren’t being treated fairly

“For us to be good, guys need to marinate a little bit. And I guess my class didn’t buy it . Part of the message unfortunately which has been driven home is that it is so hard to win at this level. A lot of things have to work out. You can’t leave any opportunities on the field.”

Cleary said the message the seniors will leave with the players returning is a simple one. “We try to tell them believe in the process and things will work out for you and for our team” he said “That’s why I’m so optimistic about our team. We have a lot of good young guys going forward who I think I know what it’s going to take.”

“It’s hard to win when you don’t have a lot of experience. I think last year we had six fifth years and 11 fourth years. A lot of good teams might have 15 grad students. It’s on us for letting our class fall apart. I’m the only guy left out of 6 linemen in my class.”

One of the returning players is QB Chase Rettig, who has blossomed into a star this season under new offensive coordinator Doug Martin, Rettig’ssfourth OC in three seasons.

Rettig is well aware that another change may be coming and he is not comfortable with it:

“I think social networking is terrible for coaches these days,” he said. “When I was growing up, I said “I want to be a coach one day.”  At one time they had a bunch of time to establish themselves. Now in our day of social media and everyone being able to know everything very fast. It seems that coaches have a year to do something great and its on to the next person.”

Rettig says the turmoil outside has not had an affect inside the BC locker room. “We fully support him (Spaziani),” said Rettig.He gave me opportunity to play. But it (a change)  is not  up to the players. It’s not an easy question because we have no control over it.”

If there is a change, Rettig said he would obviously have to deal with it.  “It would be another challenge,” he said. “That would be crazy. If we had a new head coach, everything underneath usually changes. We have done a lot. It would be nice to see what we could do with it for a whole off-season a spring, summer camp and another season.”

Rettig, like Cleary, says he has looked back for reasons why things happened the way they did.

“Sometimes before you go to sleep, you think of all the close games you should have won,” he said “But we can’t have too much of the would have and should have. We have to find ways to win games.”

“This is our last opportunity. We have to be winning overtime games, the close games. That’s how teams like Alabama have gotten to where they are. The best teams are on the same page. The coaches and players are one. We did that. We are close to our coaches. We just have to find ways to win football games. It doesn’t matter how ugly a win is. We just have to find a way to win football games. That’s what burns the fire for the next game. And the next game.”

“We were close this year a bunch of times. We just have to get over the hump.  I don’t think there is any magical equation. We just have to keep having a good work ethic. But sometimes you have to make a play.”

Sitting in the middle of this storm is Spaziani, who maintains that he is building a program the way it should be built with players who can make it work.

“We try to see if they are interested in us for the right reasons,” said Spaziani when asked about the type of players he recruits, “We are no better than anybody else, but we’re different and we’re pretty good.

“We want kids that understand what we’re about, then we’ve got a chance.  If you take a bunch of those guys with that attitude, then you have that little oomph that you need. If we had 18  (instead of 9) of those guys, that makes it better. Just go through the good teams and look at their roster.”

“Those good teams have a good quarterback and they have some senior leadership.  But they have to be a team.  What did Knute Rockne say. I want 11 players ,but I want 11 team players. That’s what you need. You need guys to come together as a team. When you have seniors, it helps.”

“That’s why we are short a little bit. The reality is this. When you chop up recruiting (which comes with a change in head coaches). It doesn’t show right away. It has unintended consequences that happen later on. Boston College is a little different. At Boston College you have to identity talent, You have to develop it. And you must have some continuity with it. And then we have had some other issues.”

Spaziani says he likes the future, likes what sees in his group of underclassmen.

“I’m excited.”he said. “I look forward to it. This is our third recruiting class. And those guys are fitting in. There are going to be some real good leaders and good football players. It’s exciting. They are going to need some experience. But they have the stuff that we had in the past.I take responsibility for everybody. I have three classes that I recruited.”

Spaziani says Rettig is a prime example of a player that he wants at BC. “Chase is the perfect example of what I’m talking about,” he said. “We had hoped when we brought him in we could redshirt him. But that didn’t happen. And then certain things that he had no control over happened. We got disjointed. We had a new offensive coordinator. It was not a good situation. We tried to manage our way through. He did everything we asked.”

“Now there is some continuity there. It’s stable and you see what he is producing. He is everything we thought he would be. He’s made some spectacular plays.”

Spaziani says the job is more than simply showing up on Saturday or even putting together the X’s and O’s of a game plan.

“You can not control what is happening outside,” he said. “That’s  part of the great part about coaching. Its Xs and O’s but it’s also teaching. Hopefully they will be able to use some of this when they wake up one morning and someone is sick in their family and they have to go to work.”

Spaziani is also learned a lot about himself on the job.

“I’ve learned how important assistant coaches are,’ he said “When I was assistant I thought it was important to have good assistants. When I became a head coach, I said “Man, it’s really important to have good assistants.”

“You have to have those guys that will believe in you. Because they are the ones that are in the trenches with the kids. All of our guys are like the players. They believe in BC. They are here for the right reasons.   There are circumstances that happened that I had to manage my way through. Some things have happened. But that’s what you do, you adjust.

“I’m much more experienced. You learn. Take players. You know guys are going to get hurt. You know that something unforseen is going to happen with a coach or a player. But there are certain things that I had to manage my way through the problem.”

Now the journey is almost over.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  22 comments for “BC players remain committed to Spaziani

  1. Eileen Ulick
    November 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm


    Your site is informative, and I find it well written and interesting. I think BC will fire Spaz, unless they don’t, then they will let him coach next season.

    Could you also give us a list of possible replacements if he in fact leaves?

  2. bcsnot
    November 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    The players aren’t going to slander their coach in the press. They know how awful the coaching has been and the players are smart enough to give the company line to the media and move on.

  3. Kevin
    November 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Mark: I think it is a testimony to the character of the players who spoke up on behalf of Spaz. I also believe that there are former players and assistants who would speak just as strongly about their negative experience with Spaz. We don’t get to hear these viewpoints for a few reasons. You’ve written about peoples’ silence being purchased- somebody’s question about why Rogers needed to be paid for silence if his departure was for legit medical reasons still remains unaddressed by you. Some may have kept silent out of self-interest. it might feel good for one of the players who left or whose career to blast their former coach, but it might also peg someone as a bad actor. Some may have kept silent out of the strength of their character.
    That said, Spaz is a terrible head coach who should have been fired long ago. On merit, or lack thereof. In no category that a coach is measured by is Spaz acceptable. He failed at recruiting, he failed at staffing, he failed at game management, retention, development, motivation, team preparation, approach. Football might be a place where blind loyalty is expected, where deviation is a negative. Modern management and modern succesful football are different. When a manager(Head Coach) comes into power, they evaluate what they have, adopt a system that fits what they have and tailors that system to maximize success. They identify opportunities to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. They attempt to make themselves attractive to customers( in this case fans) and to staff( players, recruits and assistant coaches) in order to grow(win).

    Spaz did none of these(and GDF did none of these things-telling the fans to show up on time for Northeastern and URI is still laughable). What few players of quality they had in 2009 on offense were not smashmouth, 1982 Washington Redskin type personnel, they were offensive linemen who could move a little, running backs who were short and quick. They actually had some speed on defense at LB and in the secondary, so naturally they played a passive zone, ran a 4-3 defense, never inserted extra DBs on defense. Special teams? Did Spaz even know that was part of the game? They almost always fair catch punts, yet never put on a rush. Hmmmmm, at least it cuts down on practice time, ignoring a whole facet of the game. And players and fans left, in droves. And instead of ever once shining a light on what fault a pathetic coach or vengeful AD might have had, we get insulted by the blogger, everyone else gets blamed, people get smeared. Ridiculous.

    Fans are customers, of your blog, of the program. We pay to watch the team, we invest our time, energy and money. The blogger and the football coach and AD work for us. No different than any other business. If someone sucks at their job, they get fired. It’s not personal, it’s performance. I care as much about Spaz being a good guy as he cares about me being a good guy-zero. He buried people, as did GDF, and the bill came due and they both are out of jobs. You are what your record says you are, in the words of a Jersey Guy.

  4. MaroonNGold
    November 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Earth to the blind “faithful” out there:

    Were it possible to resurrect Knute Rockne and John Wooden and put them in charge of BC football and men’s hoops, respectively, then maybe we’d get some players.

    BUT a coach of that quality – or even one of significantly lower gloss – would never accept a job @ alma mater.

    The reasons are not merely those previously correctly cited by Mark (small venue, et al), but this more important one:

    What such coach in his right mind would come here, knowing the cascade of coach dismissals that have occurred in a mere 15 years under Leahy?

    Answer: NONE

    • bobby
      November 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      None, except all those that accepted the jobs. your comment is stupid.

      • MaroonNGold
        November 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm


        If my comment is “stupid”, name one top level football/ other coach (i.e. someone in demand by other major powers when hired here) who signed on post 1996.

        Little challenging, huh.

        Do you have a substantive response to my observation?

        Easy to avoid that by calling names, isn’t it?

        • bobby
          November 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm


          Randy Edsall. Turned down by BC. Would have loved to get offer. Mike London. Same. Chip Kelley. Brian Kelly. All there for the taking. Your pal GDF took Spazoo. Why you think that is ok is insane.

          When Skinner left, lots of great choices for BC. – e,g current PC coach.

          If you hate BC, why post?

          Yours truly,


  5. Rick B
    November 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

    When a new coach takes over a program there are three things vital to his/her success: (1) making sure the current players stay; (2) making sure the current recruiting class stays committed; and (3) start recruiting. Spaz has clearly failed on all three. Thankfully it is time to move on and start a new era with a new head coach. Mark, you can still support your pal all you want but at the end of the day he was a horrible coach and everyone new it at the time of his hiring. Gene DeFilippo was jilted by his girlfriend, Jags, and turned to his old faithfull girlfriend, Spaz, to comfort him. That decision has critically wounded the BC football program.

  6. Ben Dover
    November 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Kudos to the players for saying the right things (whether they believe it or not is for another article).

    Reality is this roster needs a serious talent upgrade. Obviously the level of coaching is far removed from what was at BC 4/5 years ago but the talent is too. Few would be able to start, let alone play on those teams. That has to be chore #1 for the new coach, is ramp up recruiting. Can’t build a class where 50% don’t have other BCS offers and expect to compete.

  7. Ben Dover
    November 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Kudos to the players for saying the right things (whether they believe it or not is for another article).

    Reality is this roster needs a serious talent upgrade. Obviously the level of coaching is far removed from what was at BC 4/5 years ago but the talent is too. Few would be able to start, let alone play on those teams. That has to be chore #1 for the new coach, is ramp up recruiting. Can’ build a class where 50% don’t have other BCS offers and expect to compete.

  8. TheMan
    November 21, 2012 at 7:10 am

    No one is going to miss Spaz but you Mark. These kids just don’t know any better.

  9. Ryan
    November 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Why even write this piece – Spaz is gone and even he knows it

  10. MaroonNGold
    November 21, 2012 at 12:08 am

    How typical of the fickle BC fandom is the attack Spaz crowd.

    And how shortsighted, as well.

    The problem is this: institutional arrogance under the current regime.

    THAT must change, or else we continue to flounder.

    And such change, IMHO, won’t come until we get a Father Monan-type president.

    Remember how proud we were to be Eagles during his tenure, because he ran the school as if it were a Catholic school in fact, and not one in name only. Our school’s reliable word and integrity were both givens.

    Would that were true today.

    When we regain the type of trust and respect among peer institutions that Father Monan’s leadership produced, THEN we have hope of attracting recruits who will lead us out of the standings cellar in both football and men’s hoops.

    • Ben Dover
      November 21, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Thanks Lively

  11. Dixieagle
    November 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    “It’s on us for letting our class fall apart.” Emmett, it is not on you and your class; it is on your coach. Your loyalty is admirable, but it’s not up to you players to take the fall for someone who hasn’t been up to the challenges of being a head coach.

  12. bobby
    November 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Good access Mark

    Poor Spaz is still making excuses. He still lacks insight.

    Cleary is a real lacky. Kid has no idea how bad Spaz is, and he wants Spaz retained. Oh brother. Cleary is repeating Spaz’s recruiting excuses too.

    • Mark
      November 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      I will pass on your comments about being a “lacky” to Cleary. Im sure he will appreciate it. Maybe he can come by and visit and you two can get to know each other.

      • bobby
        November 21, 2012 at 12:02 am

        Cleary is like that Jersey guy character on Sopranos. You know Big Pussy. Cleary clearly is not a tough guy, or a jersey guy. Bring him on. Not to say Cleary won’t be successful in life …I can see him as a butler.

        • BrnHrnt
          November 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

          Gotta love internet tough guys!

          I just found your site Mark. Thanks for the BC insight. I’m assuming this will be the end of the Spaziani era and the next hire is going to be crucial especially given the unsettled nature of conference realignment. It was good to hear that AD Bates has started the process. Hopefully they’re not tight with the purse strings and can land a quality HC. What do you think about keeping the OC for continuity purposes? BC demonstrated multiple times this year that they could put points on the board. With a real running threat they could cause a lot of teams some fits.


        • Mark
          November 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm

          Cleary got back to me. Says he wants to meet you.

          • bobby
            November 22, 2012 at 11:06 pm


          • Fred Swepson
            November 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

            Don’t worry Bobby. You’re safe. Emmitt Cleary hasn’t hit a moving or stationary object in 5 years.

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