Now that the smoke has cleared, it's time for Brad Bates to get to work. Here are five things to keep in mind as the Boston College football program begins the process of going about finding a replacement for Frank Spaziani.
Look For Something New
ATL made the point on Sunday night that every school tends to hire the opposite of their last coach, claiming that the new coach will be young. I agree with this point, but want to take it one step further. My guess is BC will hire a young coach and one with prior college head coaching experience.
Bates has already hit home the point that prior head coaching experience will be a differentiator. You have to go back to the Bicknell era to find a Boston College football head coach coming into the job with prior head coaching experience. Spaziani, Jagodzinski, O'Brien, Henning and Coughlin all walked into the job with no prior college HC experience. Chances are good that BC won't be the new coach's first college head coaching gig. This narrows the list of potential Spaz replacements significantly, but I believe it will be a major factor in the next search.
Forget About The Stepping Stone
The term "stepping stone" should be permanently banned from all commentary regarding the upcoming coaching search. The phrase is a holdover from the GDF days as a rationalization for hiring Spaz in the first place (loyalty that was curiously absent from other BC varsity programs where the former A.D. had a quick trigger finger when it came to firing head coaches).
Given enough time, any college football program in the country can be spun to look like a "stepping stone" opportunity. It doesn't matter if the next coach stays for three years of 15; only that he rebuilds a football program coming off its worst season in more than three decades. I have no problem with a coach that ultimately has ambitions beyond the Heights. The program is coming off a head coach with no ambitions beyond Chestnut Hill and here we are (see also the first point about something new).
The notion that Boston College needs to find someone to stick around for 10+ years is ridiculous. If Bates disqualifies a HC candidate simply because he fears he'll be gone in 3-4 years, he's not doing his due diligence to fill the position with the most capable candidate.
Enough with the "stepping stone" talk. It's nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Stay True To Boston College Football
There are many who say that Boston College needs to breathe new life into the program. Suggestions include installing an offensive mind as HC or updating the Eagles traditional, simple uniforms. I maintain that doing so is not in the best, long-term interests of the program.
Sure, installing the Air Raid or the Spread HD would make things a bit more interesting when compared to the last four seasons of 100+ ranked offenses. But the long-term impact of making such a dramatic scheme change can have far-reaching, long term consequences. Why try to be something you are not? If the next head coach is an Air Raid guy, fine. But they better come prepared to play stifling defense and build up bruising, physical lines on both sides of the ball. Sacrificing quality on defense or on the lines for recruiting highly regarded offensive skill position players is not a winning formula for a northern program like Boston College. Stay true to BC's roots with the next hire. That means Kingsbury (Air Raid), Dykes (Air Raid), Calhoun (option) all aren't happening.
On the uniforms, stick with tradition. Maryland sacrifies tradition by parading out new hideous uniforms each week and the Terrapins are still an awful football program (but do ditch the triple-striped, stained glass helmets).
Other BCS Coaching Vacancies Will Influence BC's Search
In addition to Boston College, there are currently "Big Five" program openings at Arkansas, Auburn, California, Colorado, Purdue, Kentucky, N.C. State and Tennessee. The vacancies in the SEC probably won't influence the BC search (as the overlap in candidates seems small), but the searches at Cal, Colorado, Purdue and N.C. State all have the potential to impact Bates search. I don't know where Blaudschun got Troy Calhoun's name, but I'd imagine he's a much stronger candidate for Colorado than BC (and to my point above, I think BC would have limited success running the option). Cal could be more enticing for guys like San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre.
N.C. State is the most intriguing of the openings as it relates to the Boston College search. And not just because the two programs share a conference and a division.
Personally I think the N.C. State job is a better one, but BC is not that far behind. BCMike made this point on Twitter, but where I think Bates and BC can make up the difference between the two programs is in the pitch. Wolfpack A.D. Debbie Yow just fired a coach that finished the year 7-5 -- 40-35 in all -- and took the program to four bowl games in six seasons. In contrast, Bates just made the biggest no brainer move of the college football offseason. Spaz went from 8-5 to 7-6 to 4-8 to 2-10 in consecutive seasons. There was no question that it was time for Boston College to move in another direction. Yow's decision to fire TOB is a little more iffy. Many candidates might be turned away from taking the N.C. State job considering the A.D. just fired a coach who averaged ~7-5 seasons over six seasons in Raleigh. The bar just raised at N.C. State.
I have faith that Bates will make the right hire here. I know many fans are jaded by the last 15 years under Gene DeFilippo. Others point to Fr. Leahy and the Board of Trustees as being notoriously stingy and fear BC will hire the next coach on the cheap. All of these views are backed by recent history and fans have every right to bring up these points, especially with the memory of the last couple of seasons fresh in everyone's minds. But to all of those who bring up these and other related points, I only ask that you let the process play out. Give Bates time. He clearly understands the importance of this next hire so let's all give him the benefit of the doubt throughout this process.
In the end, I'm optimistic that Boston College will turn some heads nationally with the next football coaching hire -- and not just with a wet behind the ears MAC coach. That's not to say I won't fully support a coach like Dave Doeren or Darrell Hazell; merely to suggest that I'm confident that BC can land a proven head coach with a proven track record of winning on the college level.