Thursday, April 16, 2009

Looking back at Spaz Part 3

Spaz is a first-time head coach, but he is a very familiar name to BC fans. Having called the defenses for 10 years, I thought the offseason would be a good time to look back at some of his best and worst moments. Hopefully he’s learned from these events and will use that knowledge this season now that he is in charge of both sides of the ball.

Boston College 14 -- Notre Dame 7
November 2, 2002

What Happened?

I don't need to say much to remind BC and Notre Dame fans of the game. BC limped in 4-3 coming off a tough loss to Pitt. The Irish were undefeated, ranked second in the country and decided to break out the green jerseys. Although the Irish put up 357 yards in the game, the BC D saved the day. Some of their defensive accomplishments included:

-- Forcing five turnovers
-- Converting one INT into a touchdown
-- Only allowing one score despite the Irish's six trips to the redzone
-- 4 sacks which included knocking out Notre Dame's starting QB

But Spaz's biggest contribution might have been less about scheme and more about motivation. During the back and forth of the game, the NBC cameras caught Spaz admonishing the guys that the game wasn't over. The fire and mood was something BC fans rarely saw from our head coach. Seeing passion and seeing the impact it had on the players was encouraging. It showed Spaz cared. And most importantly, it was the right message.

What I hope he’s learned?

That Notre Dame team was not some sort of offensive juggernaut. It wasn't Spaz's miracle game plan that won the day. Instead it was about plugging holes due to injury, a sound attack and keeping the guys focused. The biggest take away was hopefully how to deal with the heightened expectations and emotions of a big game. Spaz has seen multiple approaches: from TOB's every game is the same approach, to Jags' rah rah stuff. There is a happy medium and there are moments to push some buttons during the game. Spaz's outburst showed that he understands that. As a head coach Spaz's words and motivational ploys are that much more important. I hope he harnesses that passion like he did against Notre Dame seven years ago.


cherry ghost said...

this is not important at all, but i just thought i'd share a story about Spaz from Nov 2, 2002 after we beat ND in south bend...

i was a freshman at BC and after the game a buddy who was a football manager and i waited outside of ND stadium for the team to come out. Spaz came out and with a big smile said hello to my manager friend. spaz asked if either of us had a cell phone he could use. i gave him my phone and he called his mother to let her know that BC beat ND. he was smiling ear to ear and was thrilled to relay the good news to his mother. i'll never forget's a great memory from a great day - and for me it's just a small testament to how much Spaz loves BC football

BCMike said...

I was at that game as well, my first trip to ND.

I'll never forget that Josh Ott INT for a TD.

To me, there is nothing like hearing the "We are...BC!!!" chants echo after a game inside the concrete silence of Notre Dame stadium after a win.

Lally said...

I was at the game, but my dad had taped it and when I was next home, he showed me Spaz screaming "We will celebrate at the end of the game!" to his defense when they were mugging for the camera in the closing minutes.

I think it was that image that really made me a Spaz fan. His ability as a coordinator was clear as day after what he did to Miami's NFL team the year before, but seeing the fire and the respect he commanded from his guys really made me appreciate what he is. He's done great things on the defensive side of the ball for us, here's hoping it translates to the top spot.

conlonc said...

Great, great trip. I was there in 2002 and the amazing comeback in 2004. Nothing but solid memories. I remember two things distinctly from '02 1) the ND band played a set of Neil Diamond songs at halftime and the loudest singing came from the BC section and 2) upon exiting I stood on the wall at the top of the stadium and saluted TD Jesus with a TD signal of my own.

One thing I do want to point out is that ND scored a TD where the catch was incorrectly called out of bounds. I couldn't see it from the nosebleeds that ND always puts the opposing fans in, but if instant reply existed at the time, we would have been looking at a tie game. Who know how it plays out from there?

cherry-great story to hear.

will the thrill said...

Sitting 9th row in the end zone among a bunch of older ND alums, it was tough to see what was happening at the other end of the field. But then, out of nowhere, a BC player started sprinting in our direction. Does he have the ball? Oh my God, he has the ball! Josh Ott!

Awesome moment.

downtown_resident said...

Conlonc, the blown calls went both ways. ND's only touchdown came after the refs negated a turnover with a b.s. "halo" violation on a punt return. Somehow, that is my last clear memory of that day...everything else was a blur although I do remember buying shots for some BC fans at Millie & Al's in Adams Morgan that night.