It began with a simple statement on Sunday evening, following a brief team meeting in which Boston College Director of Athletics Brad Bates told the BC football team that football coach Frank Spaziani was being dismissed after four years, including this season’s 2-10 disaster.
There is little need for further evaluation. The results of the past month are obvious, with Boston College’s 27-10 loss to North Carolina State on Saturday the latest example. The Eagles stumbled to a 2-10 mark, after last season’s 4-8 crash and burn performance which ended BC’s bowl appearance streak at 11.
The tenure of Spaziani as the Eagles’ head coach is now over.’
Bates called a team meeting on Sunday night and informed the team of his decision.
“He just told us that we were going to make a change” said one player. “It wasn’t that big of a surprise.”
BC linebacker Steele Divitto said that the Eagles will absorb the change and move on. “No one here is feeling sorry for themselves,” said Divitto, who praised Spaziani who did a good job. “It’s time to move on.”
Spaziani did not meet with the team, but will instead meet with them individually over the next few days.
But he did issue a statement: Obviously this is a sad day for my family and me,’ he said. “”Boston College has been my home for more than 16 years and I have been fortunate to work with some amazing student athletes. I will aways treasure my relationships with them and with the BC staff.
Boston College is a tremendous place and I am extremely thankful for my time there. I wish the current and future Eagles nothing but the best.”
What is important now is to make the process of finding a successor for Spaziani as seamless as possible. Bates said the will follow the philosophy of former UCLA Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden with a “be quick, don’t hurry” coaching search, looking for the right person that fits what BC needs
Bates has been the AD at BC for slightly more than a month and is well into the evaluation process. He has already formed a list of candidates who would be coaches of interest for BC. Whether that interest is returned remains the question.
With the virtual conclusion of the college football regular season this weekend, the silly season of firings and hirings will speed up.
Bates has already met with a group of advisors who have compiled a list of names. Included on that list are Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, Miami coach Al Golden, Mississippi coach Dan Mullen, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, and Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun. It is a strong wish list, but all would be long shots to come to BC, although Mullen might be worth watching.
He grew up in New Hampshire and has connections to Oregon Coach Chip Kelly and former BC assistant coach Ryan Day, who also came out of New Hampshire.
Mullen’s name was mentioned when Penn State was looking for a replacement for Joe Paterno.
Why leave Mississippi State? Look at the landscape. The SEC has won the last 6 national championships and could win a 7th if either Georgia or Alabama beat Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Mississippi State was not a factor in any of those championship races and is not likely to challenge any time soon. Mullen might just want a change of scenery.
Whether Mulin would be the right fit for BC is not clear.
After two coaches–Spaziani and Jeff Jagodzinski–without college head coaching experience, Bates highest priority is to hire a coach with previous head coaching experience. If Bates’ first list doesn’t work, Bates might go to the Mid-American Conference. Northern Illinois’ coach Dave Doeren and Kent State coach Darrell Hazel would be the most likely leaders from that group.
Bates could also dip into the coordinator pool from major successful BCS programs. Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco would be the front-runners from that group.
Bates could also look into the NFL, although there might be some concern about a lack of familiarity with college recruiting and the sometimes mind-boggling NCAA restrictions on access and recruiting. Other candidates with local ties and a record of achievement such as Harvard coach Tim Murphy could also be included.
That is a fairly comprehensive group of candidates which Bates feels will produce the next BC coach.
Bates said the criteria for the next BC coach is three-pronged.
“Someone who oozes integrity, someone who sincerely cares about the students and we want someone who is going to win,” said Bates, who said that Spaziani met two of those three criteria. “When you are working in the profession of athletics, winning is a very big factor.”
“Spaz is clearly a man of integrity,” said Bates. “He genuinely cares about his students. But his performance (in terms of winning) the last couple of years has suffered.”
In the end, it was a bottom line performance. Frank Spaziani simply did not win enough games.
For Spaziani, it will be time of decision and transition. With three years remaining on his contract, there are no immediate financial concerns. BC VP Leo Sullivan and Spaziani should be able to work out an equitable deal that will be fair to both sides.
In a perfect world, Bates would like to complete the process in the next two weeks, since recruiting season begins on Friday, but Bates wants to make sure it is not only the right coach but the right fit for BC.
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