Boston College recently fired Jim Christian as its men’s basketball coach. Now BC is transitioning to a hiring search for the program. Peter Caliguri, Patrick Toppin, and Arthur Bailin share our thoughts on the firing and what’s next for the program.
- Not to rehash, but was firing Jim Christian at this point in the season the right move?
Peter: Long overdue.
Curtis: Yes. Here’s why.
Patrick: Would there be any advantages to keeping him? Coaches aren’t going to look at the firing and think BC is being hasty (lord knows that Christian had plenty of time), and I haven’t heard any rumblings of Gianni Thompson de-committing.
Further, any transfers/exodus are going to occur regardless of what decision Pat Kraft and the department make. I suppose firing him lets fans know that program is moving on and may well inject the tiniest bit of excitement (and relief) into the fanbase. Plus we get to see if Spinelli can do anything. Are either of those “game changers”? No, not really. But I guess the small positives outweigh virtually no negatives.
Arthur: 100%. Everyone and their mother knew that Jim Christian was a lame duck coach at this point in the season. He already received the benefit of being kept on because of uncertainty around COVID-19, so he was already on borrowed time, and he didn’t do much with that opportunity.
Now that Christian left we see all of this stuff going down with Wynston Tabbs and COVID protocols and you wonder how Christian’s lame duck status and that uncertain environment affected the team. One of the most common reasons I heard from my sources within the department while I was on the beat for extending Christian after rough seasons was that preventing Christian from being in a contract year was that it’s easier to prove to recruits that there is stability. Now we’re in a period of instability. but wouldn’t it also follow that limiting that timing, particularly with the signing period in April, would be better for the program? I don’t buy that there’s any downside to firing him at this juncture, and honestly this is an argument that seems manufactured by the media.
2. Did Jim Christian leave the BC program in a better place than Donahue?
Peter: Given I was a student at BC at the end of the Donahue era and covered games as an Alum under Christian and saw no change in attendance levels, I would strongly say no...
Curtis: I have only learned about Donahue’s tenure in the aftermath, as my freshman year at BC was in 2016. But from what I can gather, BC has been more consistently bad under Christian. And with Tabbs transferring, there’s little hope for the near future.
Patrick: Yeah, I think there’s a fair bit of individual talent for an incoming coach to build upon. The Langford Brothers, CJ Felder, and Jay Heath (assuming they all stay) are ACC caliber players (@Steffon Mitchell please come back for one more year) and I’m optimistic that Kamari WIlliams and Justin Vander Baan can be contributors under a new regime. I think whoever comes can avoid a “Year 0,” but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of work to do.
Arthur: If they fired him last year, absolutely. But now Tabbs is transferring, there really isn’t hope for the program and the team was abysmal this year. At best I think this is a wash.
3. How should BC approach a new hire? Where should they be looking?
Peter: A younger and up and coming coach. Similar type of hire to Hafley.
Curtis: They need experience, especially recruiting experience. The roster will be very depleted heading into next season and this program is going to need a full rebuild over the next 5 years. I want a coach who has overseen a program go from bad to good, whether that’s as head coach or an assistant, and knows the right way to build back better. I may be in the minority, but now is not the time to take a risk on an unknown.
Patrick: If BC can’t get a proven hire (*cough Beilen*), I think BC should swing for the fences on an unproven, gamble of a coach. I think BC’s in a weird enough spot that they can swing for the fences, and if it doesn’t work you move on after a couple of years in time to open a new practice facility.
Aside from that, I’d be looking at HC who provides recruiting chops in 2 of the 3 following places: Greater Chicago/midwest, Mid-Atlantic (where BC has a bit of a pipeline now), and Boston/Northeast (that one’s probably the most important). Whether that’s roots or a track record, BC will need to bring in continuous talent (and hopefully some assistants to develop that talent).
Arthur: A few people have said this, but a Hafley type hire is where they should be looking. Find someone with pedigree at a high profile program who wants a major program to run. I want someone who has experience being in recruit’s homes and selling their programs. Get talent to the Heights, and have the coaching chops to get them up to par.
4. Throw some names out there - who do you have an eye on as a potential candidate?
Peter: Pat Duquette.
Curtis: John Becker and Porter Moser. John Beilein if he would consider us, which I doubt.
Patrick: To hell with it: Jared Dudley. If it works, hell yeah. If not, can it be any worse?
Arthur: I like Bill Coen. He has been at the helm of a strong Northeastern program for a while, and I think he would be a solid rebuilding coach.
5. Ultimately, how do you think BC will go about the hiring process, and who do you think will be hired?
Peter: I would imagine them not going with an older head coach like [John] Beilein but investing in a younger talent that has drive and ambition and plays a more contemporary style of basketball and can recruit in the same capacity. No comment on who that specifically will be at this time.
Curtis: They’ll take some shots at a few mid-major head coaches, get turned down because this program is a mess, and settle on an assistant like Howard Eisley or someone else. I can smell the disappointment from a mile away.
Patrick: I have no idea. We don’t know how Pat Kraft can handle a coaching search at this level, but I’d expect it to be similar to the Hafley hire: a high pedigree but unproven assistant (Eisely?)
Arthur: We’ll see. This is Kraft’s first big one and he’s got a lot to prove to the fanbase.