Jeff: Prior to the arrival of Brad Bates, we more or less knew that neither Gene DeFilippo nor an interim AD would fire Frank Spaziani. With the arrival of our new Athletic Director, there is now speculation -- or hope, depending on your vantage point -- that Spaz will be fired midseason.
On Friday though, in the Big Finish, you stated that the only way Bates would change his stance of evaluating the football program and making a decision at the end of the season would be if players and players' parents went to our new AD and convinced him that a change was necessary now. Personally, this is the last reason I want to see our new AD fire Frank Spaziani. No coach is ever loved by all of his or her players and they are certainly never loved by all of the player parents. It is the coach's responsibility to make decisions that are best for the team in both the near and long term. That often is not what is best for individuals.
I do think that Frank Spaziani should be fired midseason, perhaps next week, but certainly as soon as the program becomes ineligible for the postseason. I think officially getting a head start on a coaching search will be beneficial to BC in the long run.
The sole reason that Spaz should be fired is performance. His declining win total in his first three seasons is well documented. However, now that Spaz's first recruiting class would be entering their fourth year on campus and we were returning a third year starting QB, there was a lot of hope for improvements on the four win season of last year. Unfortunately, so far this season, no improvement has been evident.
If anything, this season has marked another decline in performance of our football team.
vs. Miami -- won @ Miami in 2011, lost to Miami at home in 2012 -- worse
vs. Northwestern -- lost to Northwestern by one score in 2011, lost @ Northwestern by two scores -- no change
vs. Clemson -- lost @ Clemson by 3 scores in 2011, lost to Clemson at home by two scores -- no change
vs. Florida State -- not competitive with Florida State in 2011, not competitive @ Florida State in 2012 -- no change
vs. non-BCS non-conference opponent -- lost @ UCF by 27 in 2011, lost @ Army giving the Black Knights their first win of the season -- worse
Frank Spaziani was either #1 or #2 on every national college football coaching hot seat list entering the season. Everyone around BC expected to see some sort of improvement with the team on the field from last season.
Unfortunately, there has been none. Have there been injuries and tough breaks? Sure. That excuse held some water when we were closer to the changeover from Jagodzinski to Spaziani. However, Spaz is now in his fourth year. There is no reason that injuries and tough breaks should take this team from an eight win team to a one, two or three win one -- which is what this team will be at the end of the season.
If everything goes perfectly and Spaz cannot assemble a team competitive enough to win eight games, then he is simply not having enough success in his fourth season to retain his job. He is actually, in fact, so far from being successful enough for the standards that BC fans and alumni have come to expect that he should be let go midseason.
Do you feel that it should be anything other than performance on the field that should lead to Frank Spaziani's dismissal at this point?
Brian: Here's the thing about my comment from last Friday. It's nearly impossible to separate Spaz's handling of the roster and the coaching staff over the last 3 1/2 seasons from the W-L performance of the team. In fact, I'd argue that the two are directly correlated to one another.
One only has to look at the number of players Spaz has suspended, booted, benched or let walk from this program over the last few seasons to get a clear picture of how he has failed to coach, mentor or manage this roster of players. That's not a subjective measurement. This is a chronic pattern of mismanagement that can no longer be chalked up to the recruiting failures of the previous staff (of which Spaz was a member).
Don't you think things could be a lot different the last two seasons had the coaches managed to keep just a few more of the following players in the program? RB Montel Harris (dismissed), LB Luke Kuechly (NFL Draft), DE Max Holloway (NFL Draft), RB Sterlin Phifer (transfer), WR Shakim Phillips (transfer), WR Clyde Lee III, DB Dominique LeGrande (transfer), DB Okechuckwu Okoroha (dismissed), LB Alexander DiSanzo (transfer), RB Isaac Johnson (transfer), RB Josh Haden (transfer), QB Justin Tuggle (transfer). I'm sure I'm missing a few more players here.
Add to this list the failed attempt to move Ifeanyi Momah to DE and subsequent lost year of eligibility after the NCAA denied him a sixth year, at least two players who declined fifth years to get on with life (who were then replaced by non-scholarship walk-ons) and the inexplicable benching of upperclassmen like RB Rolandan Finch and WR Colin Larmond Jr. Is there any wonder why this team has struggled on the field each of the last two years?
Roster attrition happens everywhere, but if Bates is going to properly evaluate the program, I think the roster attrition under Spaz's watch has to be a red flag signaling a failure to manage the roster and mentor the team.
This doesn't even get into the mismanagement of the coaching staff. Tranquill was a bad hire. Not sure if Rogers was ever even Spaz's hire, but it was clear two games into last season that that marriage of convenience didn't work out. The fallout from Rogers medical leave of absence, recovery and resurfacing at Temple. Then Spaz has 4/9 of last year's staff up and leave for opportunities with lesser programs after National Signing Day. Even the strength & conditioning coach bolted.
On the recruiting front, all key indicators are trending in the wrong direction. The current staff has completely whiffed on keeping Massachusetts kids in-state in each of the last two classes and has left BC thin at some key positions. Keeping Spaz on through the end of the year at this point serves no purpose but to leave the current recruiting class in limbo and provide the opportunity for peer programs to negatively recruit against Boston College.
And on the field during the games, Spaz's poor game plans, in-game coaching blunders and white flag surrenders all indicate that he has quit on this program. If this is clear enough for ESPN's Brock Huard to publicly skewer Spaz for his latest surrender in the second half against Florida State, this fact has to be evident to Dr. Bates.
Spaz has failed to manage the roster and the coaching staff, recruit, coach and prepare this team to win football games. What aspect of the coach's performance is left to evaluate? The performance is easily measured in wins and losses, but Bates isn't going to truly learn about Spaz's numerous other failures without talking to players, families and others close to the program. He's not going to get the full scope of the problem by speaking to the staff, the athletics department or alumni who aren't close to what is truly going on at the Heights.
Spaz should unequivocally be fired before season's end based on his performance alone as the Eagles head coach. The school owes that much to the players to put them in a position to succeed, under a coach that is willing to put the best 11 players on the field. My point is that Bates will not get the complete picture of Spaz's performance record by just examining the weekly box scores.