Thursday, December 17, 2009

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.


Alex L. said...

I'll admit I'm not much of a hockey fan, but Jerry York has been absolutely huge for BC. As Gene stated: "he's the best hockey coach on the planet". An all around BC guy.

One "person" that I might have put in my list was "the man in charge of selecting/not selecting BC for his bowl matchup". Obviously this was a different person every year. But whichever bowl we ended up playing in always had a huge impact on our season and the fans.

Alex L. said...

Oh I forgot. Bill, shouldn't you post something to commemorate the blog being 5 years old this month?

Big Jack Krack said...

I vote Coach York #1.

Both Gene and Coach Skinner have accomplished much - but time for both to move on.

blist said...

Speaking of getting into the ACC, with all this talk of the Big Ten raiding the big east, does the ACC consider adding one or two more schools? Seems Syracuse would be very logical addition - another northern school would please BC and MD no doubt, and make up for 'Cuse being jilted in VaTech's power play.
The UConn fan, btw, are fantasizing about UConn being asked into the ACC or grabbing BC back, judging by the Hartford Courant chat boards.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Ed Kelly's record in the 2000's:
- 7 NCAA tourney appearances
- 3 conference tourney titles
- 2 regular season conference titles
- 2 conference coach of the year awards
- 2002 National Coach of the Year

p.s. Ed Kelly is the BC men's soccer coach, i.e. the best BC coach no one seems to have heard of.

Eagle in Brighton said...


UConn fans- what a joke.

ATL_eagle said...


Having any list is going to leave someone deserving off. Ed is a great coach and brought us our first ACC Championship. But soccer is pretty low on the radar at BC and in general for college sports.

Erik said...

I don't see benefit to adding teams. 12 is the perfect numer, I wouldn't add any more.

Duke, UNC, and Maryland basketball programs would freak out about diluding the schedule with more teams and less home & homes.

Playing 3 out of 6 from the other division, if we go to 14 teams then we'd be playing 2 out of 7 from the other division. If they kept the traditional rival (VT), then you'd play one out of 7 from the other division, meaning you play a team once every 7 years. That isn't a conference affiliation at all/

Ry said...

I agree with BJK, York should be number 1 and putting him behind spaz is an insult.

mottau may have won the hobey, but it was brian gionta that changed the face of BC hockey. he didn't win the hardware, but gionta is the best player to play at BC in the last decade. we hadn't made a frozen four in 8 years. starting with gionta's freshman year we made it in 8 of the next ten. of course we had a ton of good players, but gionta stands out the most.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Kuechly named national freshman of the year (defense):

Kevin said...

Good list. I think the order is pretty spot on too given the relative pecking order of BC sports w/ football being at the top despite the hockey team being a powerhouse.

I agree that Gionta should be the representative of the hockey team over Mottau. He's the first player that comes to mind when you think of BC hockey in the last decade.

Finally, Troy Bell is the choice b/c he came at such an important time for the program but it's hard to leave off guys like Dudley and Craig Smith b/c of the way they allowed us to hit the ground running in the ACC.

Mark S. said...

Can you really put either guy on the list for this decade? Mottau only played one year this decade and Gionta two. If you had to pick I would say Gionta only for the energy he brought to the game, especially considering his relative inexperience when I saw him ('99 grad).

CT said...

I'll admit, even after being on campus for two of BC's biggest sports stories ever ('93 ND and '94 UNC), I'm pretty jealous of those that got to see the hockey program's resurgence this past decade.

One of my enduring memories from BC is having season tickets to hockey freshman year. Sitting where we wanted. Having a section to ourselves. Making fun of the hockey coach position as a work-study program. When it was ridiculously cold outside on a Friday night, my friends and I could always look forward to the pretzels and a shellacking at Conte, not to mention individual conversations heard three sections over.

And now look at you. Spoiled. Damn you, Jerry York.

morrina said...

From Katz's blog:
Boston College's plan was to bring in Brady Heslip early so he could redshirt and learn Al Skinner's system. Heslip has already graduated from Burlington, Ontario's Nelson High but has been playing at New Hampton Prep (N.H.). Skinner announced Thursday that Heslip was joining the squad. He will technically be eligible to play this month but unless there is a glaring need for a sharp shooter -- which there is -- the Eagles will likely continue to redshirt him. But if the 6-2 guard has a quick learning curve and is knocking down shots then the Eagles might be tempted to bring him off his redshirt.

Please!!!! We need all the help we can get!

Eagle in Brighton said...

Dominique Davis signed a LOI to play for Skip Holtz at ECU.

Nice to see him land on his feet. Not all that surprised by the destination. Very curious to see where Haden goes.

Ry said...

the question is, if heslip starts early then he will probably have to take another half season off sometime unless you want to lose him halfway through his senior season. we could definitely use some hooting depth from the guard position though...

mod10aeagle said...

I'm lovin' this whole series, ATL. For shear excitement, it would be almost impossible to top Nathan Gerbe. If he had stayed for his senior year he'd have to be on the list in place of Mottau or Gionta. The game changed with every line change that involved Gerbe. He demonstrated beyond a doubt that he was the top college player in 2007, regardless of the Hobey selection, with his play in the NCAA tournament. I saw Joe Mullen, Dave Emma, Marty Reasoner, and Brian Gionta, among others. All special players, but Gerbe was all that and more.

eagleboston said...

I still think Doug Flutie is a very important person in BC circles. I still find people here in the Midwest that don't know who Matt Ryan is, but everyone, and I mean everyone, knows about Doug Flutie. He continues to be a great ambassador for BC and the 25th anniversary of the Hail Flutie has brought a lot of attention upon BC. I think he is the most prominent athlete in BC history. After all, who else has a statue outside Alumni?

I'm still trying to figure out why he left the college football broadcast gig though.

DustBowl said...

Eagleboston --

Flutie is a great guy, and BC's best ambassador.

As to your question, i think he was canned. Here is a blurb from an article from this past August.

"ESPN/ABC isn't waiting for August two-a-days to update its announcer depth charts for college football.

While on-air lineups for its marquee ABC Saturday prime time games (Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters) and ESPN GameDay (Lee Corso, Herbstreit, Chris Fowler and Desmond Howard) are unchanged, there are new wrinkles:

. . .

•Gone. Doug Flutie, who'd worked in ABC's studio and did some midweek ESPN games, will no longer be part of any coverage. Sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein also exits."

Dports1 said...

GIONTA! Just like Matt Ryan, Gionta has achieved relatively high visibility in the pros. His teams win (Devils) and he puts up some solid stats while earning a great rep as a teammate. As an ambassador of the school, he is much more influential than Mottau in getting hockey talent to come to BC.

Michael A. said...

Kiwanuka, Herzlich, and Jared Dudley need to be on that list

DustBowl said...

ATL -- have you done a top 25 BC athletes of all time? Another good "list" post.


1. Doug Flutie
2. Matt Ryan
3. Troy Bell
4. John Bagely
5. Michael Adams
6-8 -- some hockey guys..
9. Matt Hasselback
10. Mike Ruth
11. Jared Dudley

25. Gerald Phelan (just b/c he caught the pass)

Nick P. said...

Brian Leetch = Best BC Athlete Ever