I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away–
Don McLean, American Pie
The Boston College men’s basketball team is 3-5, coming off home losses to new Division 1 member Bryant University and a 16 point loss to Harvard marks the fifth consecutive time the Eagles have lost in their cross-the-Charles River ACC-Ivy League showdown.
The Boston College football team just finished a 2-10 season, which is a drop from last season’s 4-8 record, a trend which cost Eagle coach Frank Spaziani his job.
On Wednesday, the Eagles introduced Spaziani’s replacement, Temple University coach Steve Addazio, who watched the Owls stagger to a 4-7 record this season.
Addazio was hired by new Director of Athletics Brad Bates, who tried to hire Addazio a few years ago when Bates was looking for a new FB coach at Miami of Ohio. Bates said on Wednesday that he was beaten in a race with Temple. This time he says he won.
Will it be worth it?
For the Boston College fans, who have endured two years of decline in football and are now in the third season of what looks like another dreary year in basketball, a plea for some happy news at The Heights is legitimate.
Will it come? And can the people in charge provide it. Bigger is not necessarily better, but right now the people in control of the main revenue producing sports at BC are an AD from Miami of Ohio, a basketball coach from Cornell and a football coach from Temple.
Everybody has to start somewhere in their careers and Bates, Donahue and now Addazio, whose courtship with BC began 6 years ago when Tom O’Brien left the Heights for North Carolina State, may indeed use their skills to turn BC back into contenders.
But it begs another question. Is BC better off now than it was six years ago when O’Brien was the football coach and Al Skinner was the basketball coach? In many ways life in the ACC is better now than it was when the Eagles were one of the anchors of the Big East?
The money is better. Significantly better and in this era when Presidents are the leaders of the “Show me the money” mentality which drives conference reconfiguration and the hiring and firing of coaches at a much more accelerated pace, that can not be discounted. As a member of the ACC, BC’s future is much more secure than it would have been in the rapidly changing, if not sinking Big East.
But in the last few year,s at least, it has come with a high price which BC has paid for in the most public of forums: on the basketball courts and football field in the fast lane competition of BCS football and blue-chip competition in basketball. The Eagles have become worse than bad. They have become irrelevant
Critics of BC–and they are growing with each loss, each perceived mis-step–say that former BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo was largely responsible for this decline, with the coaching moves he made in men’s and women’s basketball and football.
DeFilippo retired in October and has maintained an almost invisible profile as a faculty member at BC since then, although he was at the College Hall of Fame activities in New York City on Monday, visiting with old friend Bill Carr, a former Florida AD, who is in charge of the search that Georgia Tech is conducting for a new Athletic Director.
But it is a larger issue, far more complicated than simply winning games. It is a philosophy that once existed at BC, one which consisted of competing and succeeding at the highest level while maintaining academic integrity. Athletically, that seems to steadily have faded in the past three years.
Bates said his task is to bring that back.
Can he do it?
The hiring of Addazio stunned some people and surprised even more. I didn’t see it coming because I wasn’t looking at a second year coach in first head coaching job coming off a 4-7 season as a prime candidate.
My bad. Once I learned that Bates tried to hire him in Miami, it should have been a possibility. All ADs have ready lists of new coaches. Addazio may not have been Bates first’ choice, but he probably was his first realistic choice. Addazio was not on the top of many lists, although his quest to get back to New England (he is from Connecticut) has been an ongoing issue for the last several years.
Addazio brings an enthusiasm to his job that can be contagious. That passion is legitimate. He wins press conferences. He stirs emotions. He makes people react. But is it genuine, or is it simply following a Coach 101 script that all new coaches use?
Here is what Addazio said about his new job.
“I couldn’t write a better script for me,” Addazio said. “This is where my family and me want to be. We want to build and grow this program.”
The new job was in Philadelphia when Addazio was hired by Temple in December 2010.
Here is what Addazio said on Wednesday.
“This is my dream job. I’ve been a lot of great places, and everywhere I’ve been and all the friends that know me and the people know that I wanted to be here.”
Addazio made that his repeated mantra before an appreciative and attentive gathering at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at Boston College.
Addazio talked about growing up in Connecticut, cutting his coaching teeth at the high level of Notre Dame and Florida football as an assistant coach. He talked about his love for Boston College and that it was his dream job.
Maybe it is. But he also went after jobs at UConn and Rutgers in the past two years, both of which might have been his dream jobs–at the time he was hired.
It really doesn’t matter that much, of course, because he is here. If you stuck some truth in the pasta that he says that he wants to sample in the North End now that he is here, you might hear the primary reason why Addazio left Temple was because it was in a better league for money since he agreed to a 6-year deal with BC which may have doubled the 600,000 he reportedly was being paid by Temple.
Addazio said this is his last stop. Coach at BC for life, with the goal of winning championships and turning out student athletes will succeed in life.
For BC’s sake, for Brad Bates sake, for Steve Addazio’s sake let’s hope it comes close to being true.
Addazio won the press conference on Wednesday as was expected. It is hard to lose one of those, although there were rumors that Bobby Diaco, the Notre Dame defensive coordinator, who was one of the other finalists, did not come close to “acing” his job interview.
Addazio will win the workout battle over the off-season. He will sell BC football where and whenever he can.
He will be passionate about what he does, hemay even try to find a version of Long Hots–hot peppers–somewhere in New England.
All of it will be meaningless unless he wins enough football games to restore the passion or create the passion in BC football that has been barely reduced to a flicker.
“”I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away–”