clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Boston College Baseball: Sizing Up The Fallout From Offseason Departures

You can never blame anyone for pursuing personal goals, but you can ask the question of what to do next.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, I talked about the Boston College baseball offseason, how it started with a real bang. I talked about how this was the natural attrition caused by this season's success, how it was natural for people to look to pillage and plunder the team that punched well above its expectations.

Less than a week later, the plundering continues. After Nick Sciortino and Justin Dunn signed contracts to go play professional baseball, Mike King signed with the Miami Marlins. Less than 24 hours later, pitching coach Jim Foster, the man given substantial credit for the success of all three of those aforementioned athletes, was announced as the head coach of the Army West Point Black Knights.

At the surface, there's a good amount to be discussed. There's the impact Foster had on the team, evidenced by the four draft picks all within the first 20 rounds (three pitchers and the starting catcher). There's the impact he had off the field, evidenced in the Super Regionals final game in Miami when he went jaw-to-jaw with the Hurricanes coaching staff about the on-the-field antics displayed by the baseball program. And there's the lasting impact he will have, which is something we'll talk about.

After rumors swirled about Jim Foster's departure, I talked about how, even if it wasn't confirmed (which it now obviously is), the discussion about him leaving was only natural to what happened this season. As a former head coach at Rhode Island, he led the Rams to six straight 30-win seasons, but the program hit a plateau at the end of his tenure. After going 13-40 in his final season, Boston College was able to convince Foster to depart URI for Chestnut Hill, moving him into a position coach.

But a head coaching position is still a head coaching position. It's a natural decision to want to leave Boston College for Army West Point. West Point has one of the top 10 baseball facilities in the nation in Doubleday Field, and the opportunity to coach at the academy is something that comes with its own personal perk. Having spoken to multiple coaches who are at and have spent time at West Point, they all say the same thing; it's a place that sells itself, and it's a special place that imprints itself on everyone's heart the second you're on campus.

I've seen plenty that people are upset that BC would lose its assistant head coach and pitching architect for a job in the Patriot League. If you take your personal feelings out of the Patriot League, it simply just makes sense. Army is a great school with boundless potential, and the facilities overlooking Cullum Hall are incredible. Going to West Point is something that lasts forever.

That's not even getting into the likely pay bump. I can't begin to know finances or anything about salaries, but I would put my own money that there was probably a pay raise with going from an assistant coach to a head coach. From what I've learned in other sports and other schools, luring a head coach to an assistant's job is about offering a better opportunity for the future. Luring an assistant coach to a head coach, though, probably can't be stopped unless you're a program with limitless resources, something that's confined to the LSUs or Louisvilles of the world.

But it doesn't stop the questions from being asked. Some departures made sense to Boston College fans who, for the most part, are new to the college baseball landscape. Justin Dunn was a first round draft pick,and Mike King was figured from the preseason to be a top 200 draft prospect. Even if he "fell" to the 12th round, that's still relatively high for the baseball draft. Nick Sciortino was picked in a round where anything becomes possible. Jesse Adams, for what it's worth, was already a senior, so he wasn't coming back next year anyways.

It's the quizzical departures that get people asking the challenging questions I hinted at. Even if the departures might make sense to me, they might not make sense to other people. Even if I try to explain what I think personally is going on, it's not confirmed and I obviously don't have a road map into someone's mind. So the questions and challenges linger.

This is what I was getting at when I said the challenging times were coming. Think of what people said about Boston College throughout the postseason. This is a team built on character guys who play their hardest every inning for their teammates. They're good athletes with massive compete levels, motors that don't quit. They have coaches who have developed them and brought them together despite having what is widely regarded as the worst facility possible in conditions in the northeast that make it virtually impossible to compete.

If you can succeed in developing something in those conditions, you're going to draw attention. Those guys are going to leave. That's what you want. That's how draft traditions and coaching trees are born. Rather than having one person make it, you have several. The challenge becomes how to replace these players and coaches with the next round, the next crop of guys who will be able to keep the torch lit and carry it to the next generation.

That's where the question should be. It's okay to let these guys leave to explore and develop their professional careers. It should be encouraged and celebrated. But it should also draw the conversation back to how important the next step should be. Who should be the next person up, and what should BC be doing to keep them around.

I hate beating the dead horse, but it comes back to the program's infrastructure. Mike Gambino built the program over the past six years. Andrew Chin turned into Chris Shaw, who turned into Justin Dunn, Mike King, Jesse Adams, and Nick Sciortino. That could turn into Johnny Adams or Jacob Stevens or whoever comes next.

Jim Foster came to BC from URI, now leaves for Army West Point. That came after Scott Friedholm, who came to BC after an assistant's job at Navy, then left to take the head coaching job at UNC-Asheville (I might've said Wilmington the other day, but it's Asheville). That could turn into whoever comes next.

"Whoever comes next" is dependent on the infrastructure of the program. The 2016 Eagles were a special team that finished the year as one of the best in the nation. They went to the Super Regionals in a major national poll, and there's not a person around who thinks Miami got out of that series without being truly battle tested. That needs to be an every year goal, not just a one year goal. That's what Mike Gambino said during his press conferences and to the media, and that's what all the fans should be hanging onto.

I guess there's a not-so-subtle hint in here, and I'm sure you can figure out what I'm getting at. This offseason, more than any other, is already raising challenges and posing questions. It's been a time for celebration, but for some, it's starting to become a time for concern. BC will be okay, and I wholly believe that for the immediate future. There's some great athletes on this team, and it's a disservice to those athletes to think a team that came within a game of Omaha can't make it back to competing at a high level.

Some people, however, are starting to worry about what happens next. Until they have answers, that's only going to continue to happen, and the longer they go without the answers, the louder those questions will become.