[Ed. note -- Promoted for awesomeness]
With the season ending in just two days, the time is now to talk about Spaz's future as head football coach at Boston College. I believe the vast majority of Eagle fans are looking for a change, while a minority are ready to give him one more year to determine if what we have experienced this year is more a product of forces outside of Spaz's control, such as injuries and poor recruiting by his predecessor (leaving a void in the upper classes necessitating the play of inexperienced and quite frankly less talented players than we have been used to seeing in the past decade) or if what we have witnessed are signs of a program in drastic decline and in need of a new direction.
Unfortunately for a guy I believe we all genuinely like and who has served the program well as its Defensive Coordinator over the years, we know the answer. But to be fair, much like any employee would be evaluated on a yearly basis, we should look at Spaz's successes and failures, not just over this year, but over his three year tenure in the post to answer those questions. Some of these are subjective, most very objective with stats to back them up.
-- Extended BC's streak of consecutive bowl games to 12, appearing in bowls each of his first two seasons
-- Ranked first in the country in rush defense in 2010 and 14th in 2009
-- Ranked 13th in the country in total defense in 2001 and 26th in 2009
-- Ranked 22nd in the country in turnover margin in 2010
-- Ranked 19th in the country in opponents 3rd down conversion percentage in 2009
-- In 2011, kept a team decimated by injuries and lack of overall talent, playing hard and for the most part, competitive, throughout the entire season
-- Was the coach who presided over the first non-bowl, first non-winning season in 13 years
-- Became the first BC coach since 1995 to lose at least eight games and a loss to Miami will make him the first since 1989 to lose 9 games.
-- Saw his win total drop each year, from 8 to 7 to either 3 or 4
-- Of his 18 wins to date, one-third of those came against non-AQ or FCS programs
-- Is 0-8 against top 25 teams
-- Ranked 76th in the country in scoring offense in 2009, 109th in 2010 and 112th in 2011
-- Ranked 111th in the country in overall big offensive plays in 2011
-- Ranked 102nd in the country in turnover margin in 2011
-- Ranked 116th in 2009, 107 in 2010 and 89th in 2011 in third down conversion percentage
-- Went from 19th in opponents third down conversion pct, to 61st in 2010 and 72nd in 2011
-- Ranked 62nd in rush defense, 82nd in pass defense and 73rd in total defense in 2011
-- Ranked 104th (2010) and 102nd (2011) in the nation in punt returns, after ranking 26th in 2009
-- Ranked 75th in 2009, 118th in 2010 and 88th in 2011 in kickoff returns
-- Was shut out at home (Virginia Tech 2010) for the first time since 1998
-- Suffered the biggest home loss (FSU 7-38, 2011) since a 45-7 loss to VaTech in 1996
-- Saw drops in points per game scored and offensive yards gained and a rise in points and yards allowed defensively each successive year
- Allowed opponents to score points in six of 11 games of the 2011 season in the last 1:19 of the first half. In a 7th game vs UCF, gave up a FG with 2:50 left in the half.
-- Failed to sell out any home game during his tenure except the 2010 Notre Dame game
-- 2011 saw attendance at home games reach its lowest total since the expansion of Alumni Stadium in 1994.
I am sure there will be posts that will reference other "successes" that Spaz has and may look at intangible items as well as reasons he should stay or perhaps reasons he should go. I have those as well, the most positive of course related to the Eagles continuing to play hard, motivated and for the most part, reasonably competitive in games despite the rash of injuries and youth forced to play on the two deep.
On the negative side, there are far more. The inability to develop a highly prized recruit, Chase Rettig. Horrific clock management and overall game management skills. Two disastrous hires for the post of Offensive Coordinator. The emasculation of O-Line U. I will let you fill in the rest. To sum it up, a steady trend downward.
So where do we go from here? In October I posted that an inside source informed me that both GDF and Spaz will be gone at the end of this year. I guess those things still remain to be seen. Brian Favat wrote a few weeks ago about Spaz' contract, which if terminated would force a buyout with several years remaining on a 1.1M per year deal. Unless the Eagles have a T. Boone Pickens type benefactor who will come up with the coin to fund that, I don't think BC is sitting on that much spare change to pull the trigger. Also, GDF has fired only a precious few coaches in his term as the AD. Those who have gone have either left on their own (TOB) or have rocked the boat in some fashion (Jags and Jim O'Brien come to mind). Only in the case of Al Skinner has Gene apparently acted on performance or overall state of the program and firing Spaz would immediately put GDF in the cross hairs of administration for the decision to extend his contract.
A competitive performance at Miami, after one at ND, coupled with a strong home schedule (including ND) in 2012, virtually guaranteeing decent ticket sales and the financial bind that Spaz' (#8 CoachesHotSeat poll this week, down from as high as #2) contract will put the administration in seem to indicate Spaz on the Eagle sidelines next year. Even a loss to Miami doesn't change too much particularly considering the finances of the matter. I put it at 75/25 in favor of Spaz' return.
The bigger question of course is the long term health of the program. A decline, ongoing for the past four seasons (Jags shouldn't skate free on this one either), requires action. Can BC afford to sit still for another year? Will Spaz turn it around given the chance in 2012 and if he does, is he still any sort of long term answer to BC's football goals?
Watch the first few days after the Miami game. With no bowl game and no reason to delay, if the administration doesn't step up immediately to let Spaz go and get on with the task of sending a message to its players, fan base and maybe most importantly, its recruits, that BC football needs a new direction, one that I will speak to next week, you'll have your answer: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.