Yesterday, Joe Gravellese spoke for all of us at BC Interruption when he bid a fond farewell to Brad Bates, BC’s Director of Athletics since 2012. Joe put together a pretty extensive list of achievements that Bates accomplished during his five years at BC. Given BC’s low points five years ago, it’s hard to argue that Boston College Athletics is not in a better position now than when Bates took the helm, even if we’re still not where we want to be.
But as is often the case in the world of BC Fandom, reactions in the comments were pretty mixed. At times people echoed Joe’s positive thoughts on how we’ve improved under Brad Bates, but many were strongly negative, pointing out that there are several things that are a real struggle at BC.
This is all to say that while things are indeed better now, on the whole, than they were five years ago (basketball excepted), BC fans are a very critical bunch, and demand excellence — merely “better” is not enough. There still really is a lot of work to be done to bring BC back to the levels of success that we experienced not that long ago.
That’s where you come in, Mr. Jarmond. Welcome to Boston College. We are truly excited for what is in store for the Heights under your leadership.
You’ve already managed to do the impossible — you got the overwhelming majority of this hyper-critical BC fan base excited about something: your hiring! I don’t think you realize how hard it is to unite a majority of BC fans around the idea that anything is good. We could beat Clemson in the National Championship game and half our comment section would be people complaining that we scheduled Tulane that year.
That said, your time at BC will probably be measured — perhaps unfairly — by just one or two decisions you make. Fundraising is great, and important, but those who look at Brad Bates’ time here as a negative do so mostly because they don’t think football has gotten good enough fast enough and because talking about BC basketball around the water cooler is a point of embarrassment for us.
It’s obvious that fixing basketball should probably be your top priority. I’m sure BC Athletics doesn’t like people calling one of the highest profile faces of the school “a point of embarrassment” for its alumni, but it’s true and it needs to be said. It is embarrassing for us to talk about BC Basketball with friends and family, and that stigma needs to be removed. Nothing is as shameful to the athletics department as alumni feeling embarrassment about their alma mater, and nothing is more important than replacing that embarrassment with pride.
The continued growth of football is just as important. While we’re at least putting up winning seasons again, that’s not the level of success that BC should be content with. Your decision of whether to throw your support behind Steve Addazio and give him the tools he needs to bring BC to that level, or to go in another direction entirely, will be primarily how fans of Boston College judge you and will also make your other jobs a lot easier.
If by the time you leave here — whenever that may be — BC is once again a ranked football team, the fans will return. Fundraising will be up. Fans will view Donor Based Seating as a way for them to support the successes of their alma mater and not as encouragement of mediocrity. And we’ll be free to once again enjoy the schadenfreude of our rivals’ failings (important!) from high up on a perch rather than from down in the swamp with them.
Continue to support our many non-revenue sports. Push through the red tape to make the necessary improvements to our facilities. Continue Brad Bates’ much appreciated willingness to communicate with and listen to the alumni. Oh, and do whatever is necessary to keep both Jerry York and Katie Crowley at BC until they reach the ripe old age of 150 — that way, hockey can continue to just stay on autopilot.
Boston College and Ohio State aren’t really as different as they look. Both universities have fiercely proud alumni bases who want to see their alma mater excel. The rest is just details.
BC needs someone to restore that pride. We’re excited to see you do it.