Part three of this week's series, we are going to look at how Gene DeFilippo's departure is going to affect the Boston College football program. Yesterday Grant looked at the hockey program and GDF's laissez faire approach while Conrad advised the next AD to give Steve Donahue a little slack.
Today we take a closer look at how DeFilippo's retirement will affect the football program, the program arguably in the biggest need of a major facelift.
DeFilippo's departure most likely will have the biggest immediate impact on the football program. We all know the narrative over the past three years. Declining wins, declining revenue and most alarming, declining fan interest. To be fair though, the football program success and failure followed an arch during the GDF years. When DeFilippo took over at the Heights, it was fresh off the first year of Tom O'Brien, who struggled throwing together a 4-7 record. TOB however under the watchful eye of "Coach Flip" eventually brought respect to the program and BC with a long string of relatively successful years before leaving for NC State.
The pinnacle of GDF's success regarding football whether he wants to remember it or not had to be the two years of Jeff Jagodzinski, who brought the Eagles to back-to-back ACC Championship Games. Jags was a polarizing figure though, who brought excitement and wins to the Heights, but also reportedly butted heads with Gene, who wanted a coach who followed his orders. That didn't happen.
Then basically everything fell apart. GDF got in a major spat with Jags, leading to his firing, and then didn't bother to do a proper hiring search, instead choosing to install his crony Frank Spaziani who has led the Eagles to three straight declining years. He became combative and antagonistic with the fans and donors, and the program declined.
In terms of the other part of his job, donations and fundraising GDF deserves a lot of credit. During his time at the Heights Gene brought BC into the ACC, continued to get big money from donations, and helped build the Yawkey Center, drastically improving BC's facilities. But near the end all that goodwill seemingly went away as donations dried up and tickets were relegated to GroupOn and other secondary markets. BC went from averaging 41,000 during TOB's heyday to under 35,000 during Spaziani's reign.
Where does this leave BC? Gene's departure is going to mark the end of the Frank Spaziani era. It's hard to imagine the new AD will want to risk his reputation and new position on a coach that is unpopular with fans and most importantly donors. Gene protected Spaz from critics and a fanbase that turned against him. Without Flip, Spaz is in serious trouble. Unless BC goes out and rips off 10 wins and can take the ACC, Spaz is a lame duck, waiting for his retirement or desk job to begin in early December.
Looking to the future BC is going to want to bring a coach in who can immediately change the aura around this program. An exciting coach, whether it be Mario Cristobal, Pat Narduzzi or Greg Roman, will need to be come in for a multitude of reasons. The new AD needs to change donors negative mindsets, get butts back in the seats, grab ACC level recruits and to do that BC needs to win and be exciting.
Hopefully this new AD will look at the program and facilities and find new opportunities to improve it. Alumni Stadium got a nice touch with the bricks and new turf, but how about updating it further. Improved concessions, new boards, etc. And of course, I would love an AD that would stand up to the neighbors in Newton/Brighton and fought for improved tailgating. Make tailgating less of a joke and more casual fans will show up and Alumni Stadium will fill up. Just saying.
As much as I love the hockey and basketball program, the football team is the bread and butter of Boston College Athletics. Minus the past three years, GDF did an admirable job with the program, but now its time to find a new AD that can bring the football team back to relevancy. Hopefully the hiring committee understands the importance of the football program, and finds a candidate with the history of running a successful football program.