Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No excuses

I know that many of you read this blog and purposely avoid the message board bickering. As you can imagine there is plenty of debate as far as what's wrong with our team and who is to blame. I know I am considered anti-Spaz. I like to consider myself more pro-BC but regardless I strongly dislike lame excuses. The Ws and Ls on this season's record will belong to Frank Spaziani. Not TOB. Not Jags. Not Gene. Not the empty seats at Alumni. It is his and his staff's job to take the pieces and players they have and make a gameplan accordingly. Every excuse is hollow. Let's review:

Excuse: We are suffering from the poor recruiting of TOB and Jags. Reality: Spaz and Bill McGovern were both part of staffs that recruited and evaluated every player on this roster. Mike Siravo has been the recruiting coordinator for four years. 80% of the players on the roster committed while Spaz, McGovern, Siravo, Ben Sirmans, Ryan Day and Jeff Comissiong were on the staff. These are their players. Any supposed "gaps" could and should have been rectified long ago.

Second Year Head Coach:
Excuse: Spaz is only in his second year. Most first time head coaches get more leeway. Reality: Spaz is not your typical second year head coach. He was a longtime assistant who was promoted in part because he provided continuity from our winning years. That continuity means there shouldn't be such drastic drop in execution. If we had hired an outsider the expectations would be different.

The QBs are the problem:
Excuse: We are just hitting a rough patch and if we had even a halfway decent QB some of these games might have been different. Reality: this team won enough with poor QB play last year. Dave Shinskie has not been good. But the staff tabbed him the starter and have yet to devise a functional offense around him or the other options.

This season has been a long time coming:
Excuse: BC has had big problems for a long time. They've been masked by a few good players like Matt Ryan and a down ACC. Spaz is just fixing things now. Reality: that is hogwash. Many seasons teeter on the brink between great and disaster. Good coaches do the things along the way to make things better.

Florida State will be a real test. They are the best team we will face this year but are also a decent matchup for us. If Spaz can rally the troops, we may make a good run to close the season. However, if the 'Noles crush us, it could send the season spiraling out of control.


Big Jack Krack said...

Good post, Atl.

A good example of a long time assistant/caretaker head coach is Bill Stewart at WVU. WVU might not be what they were - but then again Pat White isn't there anymore. We fired Jags; Rodriguez left WVU abruptly, causing much acrimony.

"With a father-like personality held by few and a work ethic held by even fewer, New Martinsville, W.Va., native Bill Stewart enters his third full season as West Virginia University’s head football coach.

Stewart hasn’t looked back since hitting the ground running when he was named interim head coach three weeks prior to the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, preparing and rallying a team, a coaching staff, a school and a state.

After guiding the Mountaineers to a remarkable 48-28 victory against Oklahoma, and arguably the most memorable bowl win in school history, especially under the circumstances, Stewart was named West Virginia University’s 32nd head football coach on January 3, 2008, one day after the impressive victory.

Since then, Stewart has produced consecutive 9-4 seasons, a victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2008, a berth in the 2010 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl and consecutive Top 25 finishes. Stewart’s nine victories in 2008 marked the most by a first-year Mountaineer coach in school history.

WVU fans don't even like this guy, I don't think - even though he's 23 and 9 as a head coach - but 1 and 3 versus ranked opponents. WVU could go 11 and 1 this year or 10 and 2; or easily 9 and 3.

Spaziani had the same advantages/disadvantages at BC when he was named HC as Bill Stewart had a WVU when he was named HC.

One guy motivates and finds a way - the other perhaps de-motivates and can't find a way.

I won't get into academic standards in this discussion.

When was the last time Boston College was a 21 point underdog?

mod34b said...

Nice comment Jack! But instead of getting a Bill Stewart, we got a Spaz.

Kind of an aside here, but I took a look at the Sagarin ratings. Here they are (with ND, Weber and Kent thrown in). Interesting to see how tough this stretch of 4 games is. I know, ATL, another excuse!

10 Florida State
19 Virginia Tech
22 NC State

34 Miami-Florida
47 North Carolina
52 Maryland
55 Georgia Tech
89 Virginia
103 Clemson
110 Boston College
120 Wake Forest
141 Duke
[146 Weber State]
[150 Kent State]

Walter said...

I don't think a crushing loss will send the season into a downward spiral. How are we not already in the spiral?

We've already sustained three consecutive crushing losses. FSU is actually a good team. Losing to them isn't going to shake up anything. It would just be more of the same.

Winning, however, could be a spark.

blist said...

ATL, I was a fan - not a big fan - but a fan of the Spaz hire, and I probably fell into the logic of GDF - Spaz was accomplished as the DC, and loyal, by all rights he seemed like a good HC (and I still don't buy the argument that b/c he never was a HC that means everyone knew something we didn't). It's clear we're in a bad situation, and I think it shows through 2 things: the regression of Shinskie and the way we're overwhelmed by ND, VaTech, and last year Clemson, UNC etc. It's bad coaching, and it shows in the predictability of the play calling on offense and the inexplicable inability to stop opponents on 3rd and long. I watched a bit of the NCSt game last night on replay, and I was struck by still (in the end of the 1Q, start of the 2Q IU watched) how good Montel is, even with this mess of an OLine. the fact they are not doing the wildcat to get him more space is a sign we lack imagination. this to me is worse than Henning, worse than the end of Cowboy Jack. Ugh.

blist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claver2010 said...

Considering how long Spaz has been in college football and a DC of a team that has had one of the better units (scheme aside) over the past decade don't you think it's weird he has not only never been a HC but never even gotten a whiff anywhere besides here?

Michael said...


I wasn't a fan of the Spaz hire when it happened but I did want to point out that I think its a little unfair to suggest that Spaz should have done a better job recruiting players as a DC. Defense, yes, I can understand that. But offense? I totally understand that the main group of coaches responsible for recruiting are still intact at BC but at the end of the day the buck stops with the HC. As bad as we're playing on the field, I think that our recruiting has been bright spot this year. As of this morning rivals had us ranked better than Va Tech in that department.

I'm certainly disappointed in the Spaz era but perhaps a temporary setback was something Spaz and Gene discussed during the final interviews. If you recall the immediate post-Jags era, recruiting was specifically mentioned as an area of concern by Gene. Its possible he expected something like this to occur.

AlbanyEagle said...

I don't buy the recruiting/bad personnel excuse at all. Who did we lose from last year to this year, besides Tennant and Gunnell, that allows for such a precipitous plunge in team performance? How about on defense in particular?

It's coaching. That's it.

Spaz should be removed as HC. Maybe cushion it by letting him stay on where he always belonged as DC. It's not like any other program is going to scoop him up to fill a HC job.

A33Jim said...

I admire the fact that you still can write passionately, even in such a down season. Keep up the good work.

Apathy would be so easy.

Big Jack Krack said...

Hello Mod - Don't look now, but Syracuse is # 61 in the Sagarin Poll. We'll probably be underdogs in that game too, since we've never done very well in the Carrier Dome - and because we stink right now.

Big Jack Krack said...

I think it was Steve Spurrier (who was in trouble a couple of years ago after losing his last 6 games - and even in some trouble with the fans last year) who fired 3 or 4 of his coaches in order to turn that program around. Look at the Gamecocks right now! He also took back over the play calling duties - his strong point.

If it wasn't Spurrier it was a major college coach who had to clean house within the past couple of years - hey it happens.

Spaz is going to have to do some (or a lot) of that - the sooner, the better. I wish him well with his decisions. If he doesn't make the right ones - it reflects poorly on him - and then he'll be gone.

A new, enthusiastic offensive coordinator would go a long way. We may need a new defensive coordinator as well - not sure McGovern is up to the task. Bring in some minority coaches on the rise as well.

Ry said...

Not to sound overly snarky, because I do agree with BJK in that Spaz needs to shake things up, but it's really hilarious to hear Spaz and Spurrier mentioned in the same breath. That may have actually never happened before.

Eddierock said...

Atl: you said it all. Well done.

strongarm95 said...

Hey ATL, AlbanyEagle makes a great point that might be worthy of another post, namely who exactly have we lost from last year and how has that affected us this year? Maybe a side by side comparison of why there is such a dramatic difference between last year and this year? I believe all of the coaches are the same. We lost a couple of players, but none that you would think would shake things up this much. Would love to know your in depth thoughts on the matter.

bceagle93 said...

I said it in a post before, and I will reiterate here:

Tranq gone after 2010 season.
Spaz gone after 2011 season.
Tom Coughlin comes back to Heights as HC in 2012.

GDF will not stand for a program that is not bowl eligible every year and he cannot afford to lose any more season ticket holders. TC is a known entity to the admin and will get butts in the seats. It would be hypocritical not to give Spaz 3 years after he railed Jags for seeking to leave after 2. That said, he will act swiftly after next season.

Bravesbill said...

Big Jack--What's with your big push to hire a minority candidate? I don't want an affirmative action hire just for the heck of it. If a minority candidate is the best candidate then by all means hire him, however if he is not then don't. Give coaching positions to the best qualified and don't base it on anything else like race, etc.

As for hiring Coughlin, that doesn't seem very likely now. The Giants look like they have corrected their early season struggles and look like a strong playoff contender now.

cullenmi said...

Coughlin makes 5MM a year coaching pro ball. He is never coming back to BC for 800 grand.

bceagle93 said...

Despite the recent turnaround with the Giants, I believe there is going to be serious interest in Bill Cowher after the season ends. There is not a lot of love for TC in NY, and if the Giants fall short of the SB again, I think TC is in jeopardy.

At this point, he has nothing left to prove at the pro level, and at both stops he has had noted difficulties with the entitled pro player mentality (making him a tough sell to another pro team). I think if he wants to remain in coaching, college would be the natural fit. He still has much love for BC, he is a known entity to the institution, and left on good terms -- and I believe we would pay more than the $800k/yr we gave Jags to get him.

Not as far fetched as it may seem on the surface...

Big Jack Krack said...

Hello Bravesbill:

Just thinking that a good qualified, rising star minority coach would help with recruiting. Nothing else, really.

BC used to have a big line , but 6'7" 300lbs apparently doesn't cut it anymore. We need a Josh Beekman type or two, and I don't see him on the horizon.

ND had a 350lb guard in there, and so do many other teams.

Scott said...

BC's football success has always come at the hands of its upper classman. We don't recruit the 4-5 star Blue Chippers (with slush fund money) who are capable of hitting the ground running and lighting it up as a true Frosh.

We take guys with the necessary frame, base athleticism, and drive, and give them 3 years to develop. Well, when you forget to fill the pipeline, it will show in 3 years, particularly when you switch systems. Jags got to play with an upperclassman laden team in 2007, and he barely held on in 2008 before jumping ship (which was certain to occur BTW). We all know that TOB didn't add much to the offense in his last year or two, and Jags added virtually nothing to the offense in his only two years.

Is it really a surprise that this current team started the year with nothing at WR, QB, RB ... but Montel.

Spaz may not be here 2-3 years down the read. But it's easy to see any success the HC will have (whoever it is) will come from the steady development of:
- Rettig/Suntrap,
- Swiggert/Colman/Phillips,
- B.Miller, and
- Montel's successor (A.Williams/KImble/Finch) ...

and hopefully the development of our last 10 o-Lineman recruits from (who are much bigger stronger). But I do worry about our O-Line coaching.

You naysayers likes to frame these recruiting problems as "Empty excuses and Loser Talk," but it's really just a contrived argument to blame Spaz for the offensive problems caused by the past two head coaches and OC's. It doesn't matter that Spaz and McGovern were here during those years and head a vote in recruiting. TOB/Bible/Jags/Logan were unquestionably offensive specialists, with clear design for the overall scheme (especially Jags who wanted to do something totally different that Spaz), Bottom line, they were the stewards with primary oversight over the offense's recruiting needs and they were supposed to be the "closers" ... regardless of who helped them target players.

I don't hear Spaz making excuses, and he's trying to fix it by pulling in real tealent. Maybe we need to replace our O-Coordinator or O-line coach, fine. And maybe Spaz isn't the long-term fix. Fine.

But that doesn't change the fact this problem was brewing for years, it's almost exclusive derived from offensive failings, and only cowards would try to hold the wrong person accountable to either protect their idol or advanced their agenda.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Jack Krack said...

Scott - I think Spaz can save himself and flourish if he gets rid of his Offensive Coordinator within hours of the last snap at Syracuse this year; and if he identifies whatever other coaching problems we have - i.e. offensive line - and fixes them. If he has to let some more coaches go, or put them on an improvement plan, or reassign them - whatever, he has to do it. Maybe there is discontent among the coaches becayuse of Tranquil's approach - who knows? But inertia for the sake of loyalty will kill us for several more years,

So the whole key for Spaz is to take decisive action at the conclusion of this season. If he doesn't, we'll know his fate.

Ry - I was trying to say that even top coaches have to shake things up - and that's what we have to do as well.

Scott said...

Big Jack,

I think Spaz has to do more than change 1-2 offensive coaches. Traq was always a short-term fix, who I assumed was brought in to mentor our younger coaches, he'll step aside. But that's not enough if it just facilitates 1-2 in-house promotions.

For BC to matter, I think we need 1-2 big offensive hires that can both coach and inspire confidence.