I don't consider myself a very negative or pessimistic Superfan. In fact, on the spectrum of all Superfans, I'm probably much more a glass half-full guy than a glass half-empty. So when I finally jump off the bandwagon, you know our football program has some serious issues.
I was never really a fan of the Spaz hire. Here's what I wrote in January 2009:
"Am I disappointed in the hire? A little.
Do I think the sky is falling? No.
Will I rally around our new head coach and give him the benefit of the doubt? Certainly.
Should we institute the Superfan terrible towel in the stands of Alumni with a big caricature of the 'Stache man? Sure, why not.
AM I SEVERELY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE WAY GENE HALF-ASSED THIS WHOLE COACHING SEARCH? Absolutely!"
I wasn't happy with the way GDF handled the head coaching situation, but was willing to give Spaz a shot.
In 2009, we won enough games (8) while expected to win just a few (2) that it seemed like everything was going to be OK. Sure, Dave Shinskie seemed to have regressed a bit as the year went on, but the Eagles returned a good amount of talent from an 8-win program in 2010. Combined with a very manageable schedule, we figured the Eagles had a realistic shot of winning another Atlantic Division title.
And now here we are, a little more than halfway through the 2010 season sitting at 2-5. Five straight losses, 0-4 in conference. Owners of the 112th ranked offense in FBS (ironically, just ahead of #113 Kent State), the worst offense of any BCS program. BC also ranks 100+ in seven of the statistical categories that the NCAA keeps track of, including passing efficiency (113), total offense (112), kickoff returns (112), rushing offense (105), scoring offense (104), punt returns (103), and sacks allowed (100).
The problems are almost too numerous to count. I fear Spaziani has lost this team and lost control of the locker room. The offense may have been tipping their plays against Maryland. Some of the few productive defensive players may be out for the season. Home attendance figures to be way down for the last two home games against Clemson and Virginia.
So what is to be done? Where does BC football go from here? Here are some options to ponder.
Tranquill Takes The Fall. If BC's offense has become as predictable as some fear, then GDF could give Spaz an alternative: either Tranquill goes or Spaz goes. Tranquill would fall on the sword and retire effective immediately. If you read Tranquill's bio, it states that Tranq was "coaxed out of retirement by Coach Frank Spaziani." If he was really dragged kicking and screaming into this thing, then I'm sure Spaz could just as easily "coax him back into retirement."
The offense has gone from 'meh' to bad in a matter of 12 games. Say what you will about the Eagles 2008 offense under Logan, Chris Crane and Dominique Davis, but those offenses were lightyears ahead of what we have now. This year, the QB's footwork has been awful. So has the line play. Most importantly, the decision to stick with Dave Shinskie at QB1 probably was the biggest factor in already disappointing BC football season. Someone like Ryan Day (WR coach) or Dave Brock (TE coach) could take the reigns on an interim basis until Spaz can find someone a bit younger and more capable to take over OC duties for next season.
Spaziani Sacked Before The Season Is Up. As bad as it has gotten, I don't think this will happen before the end of the season. I think GDF has put himself in a no-win situation. While GDF clearly won the PR battle with the Jags firing, the coaching community is a pretty small and close-knit group. Clearly, they have to see a pattern emerging at BC. What half-decent coaching candidate would want to come at BC, knowing that they could be given a very short leash to succeed (giving the AD's track record of running head coaches out of town)?
I'm not worried about the adverse effect that coaching turnover will have on the program. I'm more worried about the PR hit that Gene and the program will take if they fire a guy who was given a 5-year contract only to be canned after 1 1/2 years. Again, what good coaching candidate would want to take the reigns for someone who just got axed after just 21-22 games into their 5-year contract? Worst-case scenario, you simply attract some current BC staffers like Ryan Day to apply for the position or other head coaches who have some ties to BC (e.g. Al Golden, (ugh) Randy Edsall). Best case you attract some up-and-comers from the ranks of the non-AQ to take the program in a new direction. Either way, I just can't see GDF attracting the type of coach that he ultimately sees himself hiring to take BC football to that next level.
If GDF waits until the end of the season, I don't think the coaching community's perception will change much. This makes me think that Spaz will be back as head coach in 2011.
Fire Everybody a.k.a. the "Tommy Bowden" Solution. In 2008, Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips gave Tommy Bowden the ax after a disappointing 3-3 (1-2 ACC) record. Spaz has gotten off to a much worse start in 2010 -- 2-5 (0-4 ACC). The difference between the two scenarios is that TDP gave Bowden 9 1/2 seasons to once again capture that magic he found at Tulane. Gene will have given Spaz just 1 1/2 seasons. At Clemson, WR coach Dabo Swinney was named interim coach for the rest of the season and had the "interim" label removed in the offseason.
The downside? Is there really anyone on the current staff that has that spark of youth that will help to turn things around before the end of the season? I don't know.
Coach-in-Waiting. The coach-in-waiting scheme has gone out of style of late, largely because the NCAA approved a new rule that limits the direct contact that coaches-in-waiting can have with recruits. This new rule all but eliminates the practice, as it gives program a decided disadvantage when it comes to recruiting (you have one less coach that can go out and have direct contact with recruits).
Though if the answer to the above question is yes, and there is someone on the current staff that you can see turning the keys over to in a few years when Spaz retires, why not designate that staff member the coach-in-waiting? I think that would be particularly applicable if that staff members was an offensive coach, as you could fire Tranquill, promote that staff member to interim OC, and keep the Spaz-to-McGovern continuity on the defensive side of the ball.
This last option probably makes little sense. Figured I'd throw it out there though. I'm desperate at this point to see a return to winning Boston College football.