In an email to season ticket holders last week, Brad Bates finally responded to the historic winless ACC seasons turned in by both his football and men's basketball teams. Using a broadcast email, he talked about the disappointment in the record while reaffirming support for the coaches and the programs.
To summarize the email, Bates talked about the disappointment. Like we've said over and over, the athletes left everything out on the court or field every game, but they just didn't break through, eventually reaching historical proportions in the loss column to something that's never happened before and something that will be incredibly well-documented. In his words, "We offer no excuses for these unsuccessful seasons."
Bates talks about his support for Steve Addazio and Jim Christian and how both have plans in place to address them and produce winning programs. He reaffirmed it by saying that he had "no doubt they will succeed." The athletic director also discusses how it's easy to cast blame, but the "harder, more productive course of action is to acknowledge our failures and learn from them."
I've been pretty firm in saying that the winless seasons in basketball and football have been the perfect storm of events. It was the perfect confluence and combination of factors. Both Addazio and Christian were forced, in the same season, to reap the lack of recruiting by their predecessors, forcing them to play players who were either underdeveloped or just plain not ready. Football played the season with 60-plus players who were sophomores or younger, and nearly everyone who would have played a consequential role on offense was injured at some point. By the end of the year, they were starting a walk-on freshman at quarterback because everyone else was blown up at some point during the year.
Basketball took the court with a roster comprised of eight true freshmen, one redshirt freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and three guys (one on his third school, one who suffered a few knee injuries, and a walk-on) who were seniors. They also had a norovirus outbreak thanks to Chipotle and, of those young guys, injury woes took out two of their starters, necessitating guys who probably should've been on the bench to play more meaningful minutes. It forced a couple of players to try and do too much, leading one to experience a renaissance and one, well, not to.
The snapfire judgment call at this point is to fire coaches, and although it's understandable, firing them doesn't change the situation. After a couple of years, neither coach has had ample opportunity to bring in their own players and develop them. At a place like Boston College, where recruits have never been five-star, five-tool athletes, that ability to develop supercedes bringing in natural athletes.
If you fire a coach, what's the next step? The message board would have you believe that the school could just open up the checkbook and fire people, then hire someone like Tom Coughlin or Doug Flutie as its athletic director. While the heart is in the right place, the head isn't there. If you fire Addazio, who becomes the head coach after that? If you fire Jim Christian, what's the next step? The succession plan, at that point, isn't realistic. The coaching position becomes too volatile, too unstable, for anyone to be able to come in here and be able to succeed. Every head coach who would come in would be handed the same situation - a program comprised of a number of players who aren't his, in a situation with players who need to be developed but can't be in time.
It's not easy. These coaches need the stability and time to develop their teams. When David Cutcliffe took over at Duke, he inherited a program that was among the worst in college football, with a stadium that was, at the time, one of the worst in Division I. It took him five years before he was able to go to a bowl game, six before he had a full-fledged winning season. He had to cycle through recruiting, bring in his guys to placehold, then bring in more of his guys to develop. In three of those years, he lost eight or more games. Now Duke is exactly where we want to be, winning eight games per year and going to bowl games annually.
Mainstream media looks at BC and only sees 0-fer. Yes, it's awful, and yes, it's something that everyone will point at us and laugh over. During the last week, more people from mainstream media weighed in on Boston College athletics than ever before. But these guys, once the story was over, turned back to their regularly scheduled programming. They took 15 minutes to jump into the waters, point at BC, laugh and shout, then walk away. They have no idea what goes on here.
I understand it's no guarantee that Addazio or Christian will succeed, even if given that time. I'm certainly willing to admit I was wrong if that's the case. There needs to be tangible growth this year on the field. Even if BC doesn't win a particular game, they need to be competitive. But I think this past year was the unraveling needed in order to put it back together, and if the effort on the field of play was any indication, things will get better with more talent. But patience is key - even when you don't have any left.