Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brian's Somewhat Delayed Reaction to Spaziani Hire

At first, like Jeff, I was really disappointed. I felt that Spaziani was the wrong choice to lead this program to the next level: winning an ACC Championship. Now that I've had time to think about it, I'm still disappointed. I'm just not sure who I should be disappointed with.

A couple of highly erratic, not-very-organized thoughts on the matter ...

The Herald article: "DeFilippo’s need to make a quick hire was obvious. With BC in the midst of its recruiting period, any confusion over the school’s direction was going to hurt."

Really?? Gene's need to make a quick hire was obvious. OK. Then why did it take him 6 days to promote a guy he was ready to slap the interim label on the day he fired Jagodzinski? Gene could have given Jags the ultimate F off by promoting Spaziani on the spot if he felt he was ready to take on the position. I feel DeFilippo miscalculated multiple steps along the way in handling both the Jags firing, this 6 day coaching search and a delayed promotion of Spaziani.

Age. Rob Daniels of the ACC Sports Journal takes a look at the age at which ACC head football coaches were hired over the years. At age 61, Spaziani is the oldest head coaching hire in the ACC ever. Like Jeff, this doesn't bother me all that much. What does bother me was all this talk of "Boston College isn't a college football head coaching final destination." As I've stated before on the blog, this statement is extremely relative. Was Oklahoma a final destination job between Stoops and Switzer? No. How about Virginia Tech pre Beamer? The head boss at Southern Cal before Carroll only lasted three seasons after posting a 19-18 record. He was bought out for $800,000.

My point is that if Gene wanted coaches to stay at Boston College until the end of time, he needed to hire a head coach that would make Chestnut Hill a destination-type position. At age 61, Spaziani simply cannot become that type of coach. Yes, he played for Joe Paterno at Penn State and JoePa set him up with his first coaching positions. And yes, he stated today that he wants to be at Boston College for the next 12 years. But the days of the Joe Paternos and Bobby Bowdens of the college football world are numbered. Do I expect Spaziani to be coaching at the Heights at age 73? Highly unlikely.

That being said, maybe this hire will work out for everyone as Spaziani serves as a steward of the program for the next 5-7 years, serving as a bridge coach until some former Eagles retire from the NFL and come back to B.C. to coach. Hey, if Bill Romanowski can develop a multi-slide PowerPoint presentation about how he wants to coach the Denver Broncos, can you imagine what he could whip up for the BC head coaching position?

Can you imagine the future BJ Rajis and Ron Braces downing protein shakes at halftime? BEAST MODE!

Leverage. Spaziani isn't going anywhere in the next five years. Even if the anti-Spaz camp is right and this program takes a Syracuse-sized downturn, Spaziani will serve out his 5 years and go quietly. Gene now has no leverage to fire Spaz after this whole Jags ordeal. I'll give you that this would have been a characteristic of any new deal given to a coach, but I think Spaziani's age compounds the issue. Can we say age-discrimination lawsuit, anyone?

Another misstep from Gene.

Track record. Yes, defense wins championships. The flipside? Defense can lose games. I have to look no further to last year's Maryland game as exhibit 1A that sometimes Spaz's defenses simply didn't come to play. Also, with our brief stint in the ACC, it seems like offensive guru Ralph Friedgen and Wake Forest's head coach Jim Grobe (going even further back to when we played Wake out of conference) has somewhat exposed Spaz-led defenses over the years. While we have never lost to both Wake and Maryland in the same year while in the ACC, if we struggle against both those teams and lose, it will be a huge stretch to win the Division.

Recruiting. Boston College has developed a great deal of talent on the defensive side of the ball since Spaziani took the helm. Silva, Raji, Brace, Dunbar, Tribble, Herzlich, Toal ... and yes, Spaziani was able to successfully coach them up to their potential (and sometimes above and beyond their potential). But how many of those guys to Spaz actively recruit? Any of them? Maybe Jags did suck at recruiting, or didn't like it, or whatever. We'll certainly find out over the next few years. But will Spaz be any better at recruiting?

Offense and Special Teams. Two years ago I applauded the Jagodzinski hire because I thought it was clear we needed a change of direction on offense. We had a rising senior quarterback (Ryan) and two more than capable senior backs (Callendar and Whitworth) and the TOB/Dana Bible master plan wasn't working. Enter Jags/Logan and while the offensive line struggled, we rode Matt Ryan's arm to an 11-3 record. Spaz stayed on and provided two seasons of great defenses.

Fast forward two years later, we have an upcoming quarterback competition between redshirt sophomore Dominique Davis and redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle, two capable underclassmen in the backfield, and a young receiving corps. Some of these guys were recruited to play in a Jagodzinski/Logan offense. If Logan bolts (I'm not so sure its a given as other people are suggesting), what type of offense will we run? Will the two years of Jags recruits fit the system? Will our offense be ANY good?

All fair questions for 2009 and beyond.

Counter-argument: Virginia Tech was able to win the ACC two years in a row with an offense ranked >100+ nationally.

Also, I think its funny that guys like Herzlich and McLaughlin have been so vocal about the Spaz hire, yet we haven't heard many - if any - sound bytes from any of the players on offense. This one from Rich Gunnell is the first reaction of any kind I've heard from an offensive player.

In summary,

Am I disappointed in the hire? A little.
Do I think the sky is falling? No.
Will I rally around our new head coach and give him the benefit of the doubt? Certainly.
Should we institute the Superfan terrible towel in the stands of Alumni with a big caricature of the 'Stache man? Sure, why not.


While I would have preferred to hire an external candidate, to take this program to the next level, I welcome our new corporate overlords head coach. Best of luck Spaziani.

Go Eagles! Brian out.


Joe Bags said...

Great questions about the offense. Jags was recruiting O-linemen with a very specific body type for his zone blocking scheme. Do the new coaches maintain this philosophy? If not, our O-linemen could be at a severe size disadvantage.

I agree that I am more disappointed in Gene's handling of the situation than in Spaz getting the nod. Like you said, had Gene named Spaz HC at the same presser where he fired Jags, I would have felt better about it. But why did it take a week? Why is Spaz the right choice now when he wasn't two years ago?

Jeff said...

Arguably, the two best recruits ever to come to BC were Brian Toal and Josh Haden. Both of them certainly make the all-time top 5. So Jags was only coach for two years and got one of the all-time most highly sought after recruits to ever come to BC. Was Jags really a bad recruiter or just having a not so great season?

When we went 11-3 in Jags' first year, I said to myself, if TOB were still here we would've done no better or worse. Same thing this past year when we went 9-5. Going forward, with Spaz at the helm, I will always say what if. Even if we have a 12-2 season, I'll say maybe it could've been 13-1.