Decade in Review: Ten most important people
This is another look back at this momentous decade in BC sports. The following are the men who did more to shape BC sports than any other. (As always feel free to tell me who I overlooked or overrated.)
1. Gene DeFilippo
Gene has many critics. They are quick to point out that much of BC's success the last decade came on the shoulders of coaches he did not hire. Gene also rubbed plenty of fans and alumni the wrong way with his heavy handed practices on Donor Based Seating and tailgating. Yet there was no one who was more influential on Boston College sports in the last 10 years. Gene's micromanaging changed the direction of our fundraising efforts, closely protected the image of the school with the media, and enhanced some of the things BC already did very well (graduate players, etc.). All his good deeds and mistakes are just a drop in the bucket compared to the most important accomplishment of Gene's tenure, which was getting BC in the ACC. Gene's people skills and politicking are the main reason we were involved in the initial ACC talks and stayed involved even when hope was lost. If you want to know what a difference a good AD makes, look at Pitt and Syracuse. If they had someone like Gene on their side, neither would still be stuck in the Big East. Gene is far from perfect, but this was his decade and BC is better for it.
2. Frank Spaziani
During the longest sustained success of BC Football there was one constant -- Frank Spaziani. Spaz's consistent defenses kept BC in countless games when we should have been overmatched. He took on a bunch of "great offensive minds" and came out ahead. He rarely got the attention or recognition he deserved. Most importantly he made the players on the defensive side better with his teaching and with his schemes. Spaz's ultimate legacy will be his record as head coach, but we shouldn't over look how much he helped BC in the '00s.
3. Jerry York
In the past ten years, Jerry York has won four Hockey East Titles and three Beanpots. He led BC to six Frozen Fours. And most importantly brought home two National Championships. If a basketball or football coach had that sort of success at BC, we would probably rename the school after him. York has been the best coach on campus during the past ten years and one of the best guys around. Let's hope we get another ten years from him!
4. Matt Ryan
It is appropriate that BC put Matt in their commercial shortly after his graduation. Ryan embodies everything we want in a BC athlete. The fact that I also could have filled the Top Ten moments list with just his highlight also makes his time at BC important. He's a gentleman, a fierce competitor, a winner, and a good guy. We are fortunate that we got to witness his coming of age this decade and we are also fortunate that he will be a great ambassador for the school over the next ten years.
5. Al Skinner
This week is not ideal to talk about Al Skinner's impact on BC sports over the last ten years. But a few bad losses cannot overshadow Skinner's many accomplishments during the '00s. Skinner is not your stereotypical college hoops coach, but he was the right guy for BC and has provided great performances and exciting basketball.
6. Troy Bell
I felt the need to place Bell right behind Skinner. Skinner deserves most of the credit for BC basketball's success but if not for Bell, Skinner might not still be here. Bell put the team on his shoulders and provided a template on how to win at BC. He rewrote the BC record books and earned numerous individual and team honors. BC was basketball wasteland when Bell arrived. Ten years later, we are a consistent tourney team. Thanks, Troy.
7. Tom O'Brien
TOB's legacy is somewhat diminished by Jags and Spaz's success in the post TOB era. But you cannot overlook all that TOB did in his time at BC. He is the program's winnigest coach and provided much-needed stability during the '00s.
8. Mike Mottau
There are so many BC hockey players that you could point out as critical to the past decade or as representatives of BC sports. I selected Mottau because he was the only star of the past ten years to win the Hobey Baker award. Mottau also served as a success story for York to recruit with. Many of the talented players who came to the Heights were hoping to be the next Mottau. We haven't had a Hobey Baker winner since, but we've had plenty of great hockey.
9. John Swofford
Swofford was the visionary behind the ACC's expansion. When his first attempt fell short of the goal, he stayed focused and got BC into the conference. As I've been mentioning over and over, the move to the ACC was by far the most important event of the past ten year and it all started with Swofford.
10. Father Leahy
Leahy is not hands on when it comes to BC sports. But he picks his moments well (coaching changes, conference changes, etc). BC is coming off a great 10-year run and it was all on Leahy's watch. He deserves credit for not screwing it up and providing the right kind of leadership.