Another day, another “no news is no news” message from Boston College regarding whether basketball coach Steve Donahue returns for a fifth season.
There is no reason for BC to make an announcement because he has two more years on his contract.
But when you are coming off an 8-24 season and are four years deep into a run without any NCAA tournament berth under your watch, people who do care about the program have the right to ask questions about the future.
The problem that BC is now facing that no one really is asking that many questions.
The signs of life for any program, any relationship is that there is a passion, or, at least, an interest.
Love and hate each require passion.
Indifference and even irrelevance do not.
BC is close to that stage, which is not good. The team doesn’t win, fans don’t go to the games, the money–as small an amount as that may be at BC–from donors stops arriving.
BC athletic director Brad Bates is facing all of that.
A month ago, Bates was seriously considering firing Donahue, feeling that the program was headed in the wrong direction. Others at BC felt differently and a consensus opinion was reached that some internal changes would be made–perhaps a change in the staff, a rethinking on the non-conference schedule–which was a contributing factor in the Eagles’ tumble from 15-16 to 8-24–would be enough for one more year when things would get better with the talent on the roster.
Donahue received some reassurances from the BC administration that he would be safe for another season. That information leaked out last week and quickly went viral, overwhelmingly in a negative fashion.
But then new information became available. There was talk in the BC locker room about defections. A couple of starters were seriously considering transferring for a variety of reasons.
Bates also heard some new names about potential replacements for Donahue–all AD’s have a ready list of coaches in their desk.
Bates talked to some people. He talked to more people. What was a done deal wasn’t undone, but it was being re-examined.
Bates and his circle of advisors played the “what if” game. What if this happens next season and player X and Player Y leave? Does that mean we have to rebuild from scratch? Is Donahue the man we want doing the rebuilding? Who could we get to replace him?
Other questions were asked about how Donahue would change things if he returned.
This was all basic Basketball 101 stuff IF it were being held in the quiet atmosphere of an off season which was beginning with no changes at the top being discussed.
Bates could have closed the door on all of this if he made a simple announcement saying that Steve Donahue would be the basketball coach at BC in 2014-2015.
He didn’t say it after Sports Illustrated reported it on Thursday. He didn’t say it on Friday, on Saturday, on Sunday on Monday.
Which begs a question. If Donahue is coming back, why not simply announce it.
People will like it, or hate it or be indifferent about it, but they will quickly move on. BC basketball just isn’t a hot topic of conversation.
He didn’t do that. All that came out of BC was that “no decision” had been made.
No “decision”, not no “announcement”.
What was there to decide?
The only answer that made sense was “whether Donahue was coming back.”
Donahue may still be coming back to BC for a fifth season.
He may get fired.
If BC comes out in the next few days and says that a change will be made, people will like it or dislike it.
If BC comes out in the next few days and says that no change at the top will be made, people will like it or dislike it.
But BC, at least, will again be able to again control its own message.
But BC has made the biggest mistake of all.
It lost control of its own message, which an outrageous mistake to make.
And what is even worse for BC and for Bates is that few people will care.
That’s what happens when you are neither good nor bad, but irrelevant and BC basketball is on the precipice of that.
© 2014, Mark. All rights reserved.