It was just over a year ago that Boston College announced that former Ohio State Deputy AD Martin Jarmond was coming to the Heights as the new Director of Athletics. It’s far too early to put a grade on Jarmond’s hiring — that grade will largely be determined by the success of his hires (or non-hires) in the revenue sports — but there’s no doubt that MJ has been busy in his first twelve months.
Let’s go through a Martin Jarmond Year In Review, starting from the more ho-hum moves and increasing in importance along the way.
Number 10: Not Firing Jerry York, Katie Crowley, or Acacia Walker
Admittedly, this is pretty important! Not firing the (by orders of magnitude) most successful coaches at BC was a good call! But this is obviously as ho-hum as it gets.
All three of these sports (MIH, WIH, and WLAX) will be making national title runs during the 2018-2019 academic year. Get hype.
Number 9: The Fueling Station
Yeah, this is a pretty minor thing, but it’s still a thing. BC opened a spot for student-athletes to grab some snacks, centrally located to the athletic facilities. The athletes seemed to appreciate it — as many pointed out when the station was unveiled, early morning and oddly-timed practices fill out most of their day, and they have less of an opportunity to get to the dining halls to “fuel up” than your typical student. The little things are important.
Number 8: The “Flight” GOLD Ticketing Initiative
This is a pretty slick ticket plan for GOLD (Graduates Of the Last Decade) alumni. Recent alums can buy into a subscription plan for $14.99 a month or $180 a year which will allow access to tickets to as many football, men’s hockey, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball games as you want. That’s quite a deal if you’re local and can get to a bunch of games, and is actually cheaper than the Gold Pass available for students.
Getting young alums to continue filling the seats is an important initiative — not just for butts in the seats, but also for alumni engagement and donations — so this seems like a pretty great program.
Number 7: Pinstripe Bowl Lobbying
The Boston College commentariat will find a way to grouse about just about anything, but getting sent to the Pinstripe Bowl against an intriguing new Power 5 opponent was pretty widely viewed as a positive. It certainly took some lobbying — the Pinstripe Bowl is a Tier I ACC bowl, there were other teams at or above us in the pecking order — and Martin Jarmond deserves credit for selling the Pinstripe Bowl committee on selecting us.
Unfortunately, the ground was frozen solid thanks to hell freezing over due to us getting picked not last in the bowl pecking order. But, baby steps!
Number 6: Visibility & Personality
Say what you will about Jarmond’s predecessor, but one of Brad Bates’ strongest qualities was his availability to members of the Boston College community, his high-profile support of the non-revenue sports, and his likeability as a person. That Martin Jarmond has been cast from pretty much the same mold as Brad Bates in this regard isn’t really any sort of “action” on his part, but it definitely deserves mention. Little things like video messages to publicly congratulate student athletes and to reach out to the BC community in general have been well-received and are appreciated. There was also the “free late night” basketball game, and free Pepe’s Pizza to encourage students to get out to a baseball game. Great stuff.
There’s no doubt that thus far, Martin Jarmond has been a very good face of BC athletics.
Number 5: Volleyball Hire
Now we start to get into the real meat & potatoes the role of athletic director: personnel decisions. Jarmond made his first ACC hire in January by bringing on new volleyball head coach Jason Kennedy. Kennedy is a former Associate Head Coach from the University of Southern California. I know absolutely nothing about volleyball except for the fact that they play a lot of volleyball in Southern California. So that must be good! Also, USC is a massive school that tends to be good in a lot of things. So that must also be good!
Truthfully, Coach Kennedy has an uphill climb, as BC volleyball hasn’t had much success in the ACC. But indoor women’s sports should be our wheelhouse, and the right coach has the potential to build something here. Hopefully Jason Kennedy is that coach.
Number 4: Women’s Basketball Hire
This is a huge hire. No, it’s not men’s basketball or football, but this is a sport that BC has had success in historically, and it’s a sport that we should absolutely be competitive in. The program has been, to be blunt, depressing ever since Gene DeFilippo inexplicably fired Cathy Inglese.
There’s reason to be positive with new head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, however. She has had success in building a program and has brought in some assistants who appear to be good fits. Now, there was excitement when Sylvia Crawley was hired in 2008 — but that did not turn out as well for the program as we’d hoped.
A home-run (or a dud) of a women’s basketball hire isn’t going to make or break Martin Jarmond’s tenure at BC like one in the revenue sports would, but it is a major hiring in a program that BC should be successful in. It also gives us some insight into Jarmond’s decision-making and hiring processes.
Number 3: Retaining Steve Addazio
Martin Jarmond’s decision was pretty much made for him after Coach Addazio went on a tear in the second half of the season. It would have been nicer if we came away with the bowl win as well, but whatever.
Jarmond could have still opted to clean house and bring in his own guy, but that probably would have caused more problems than it would have solved. The Eagles look to be actually good next season with just about all the pieces coming together for a strong year — a good young quarterback, a Heisman-level running back (er, again), an experienced offensive line, and a continued great defense. Steve Addazio has not broken through yet in his time with BC, but he does deserve to give it a run with the roster he’s built for next season.
Number 2: Jim Christian Extension
Oh, the timing on this was just so unfortunate. Before Jerome Robinson declared for the NBC draft, it was looking like the Eagles might have themselves a top 25 basketball program next year, and that like Steve Addazio, the decision to keep Jim Christian around was pretty much made for Martin Jarmond. Tacking an extension on top of that wasn’t particularly well-received by fans even before Robinson declared, although it does seem like keeping your coach from looking like a lame duck to pacify incoming recruits is just part of the business.
But then Robinson declared, and now even Ky Bowman is considering making the jump, and all of a sudden next year is looking much less great. We don’t know how Christian’s contract was structured, but if he can’t find a way to improve without one or both of his best players next year, it’s possible BC could be eating some of that money and moving on.
Number 1: Beer!
All kidding aside, from the fan experience perspective, this is one of the biggest moves that could have been made. Beer and wine are now available for sale at all football, men’s basketball, and men’s hockey games. Perhaps it was a pre-emptive strike to allow fans to drown their misery in Bud Light during what looked like it would be another sub-par year of BC football and hoops, but as it turned out, those teams ended up being kind of fun!
Regardless, it’s something fans have been wanting for a long time. I would imagine that this was not the sort of thing that would have been even remotely easy to pull off, so nice work, MJ.
What do you think of Martin Jarmond’s first year? What would you like to see happen in his second year? Hopefully football and basketball make those particular personnel decisions easy.