The Thomas Claiborne affair
I realize some of you avoid the rumor and innuendos that surround the program, so let me catch you up. A few weeks back our Spaz moved Thomas Claiborne out of the starting lineup. Public explanations were vague as to why the preseason All ACC player and three year starter was not starting but the word was he was being outplayed. Yet in most of those games Claiborne was quickly reinserted back into the game. His play was inconsistent but he was still effective enough. At the time there was plenty of gossip that Claiborne had spoke out against the coaching staff and was being punished.
Now, weeks later, Claiborne is playing again and he and Spaz are openly addressing their past issues and are publicly on the same page. So it seems like there was some truth to the rumors of discontent and that the benching was a subjective mix or performance and punishment. What does it all mean for BC, Spaz, Claiborne and this season?
One of the most critical roles of a head coach is managing the all the people involved in the program. The complexity of managing a unit or position is multiplied because now you have other coaches to worry about and you have final say. As with any diverse and big group, you can't manage everyone the same way. The best coaches understand that. I worry at times that Spaz has a little TOB in him in that he would hurt himself, the team and a player out of stubbornness disguised as principle. Did Claiborne mouth off? I buy it. Anyone can see that he is an emotional guy. But punishing him in a way that might hurt his career and your struggling team might not be the best message. You have to respect that player A and player B are different and respond differently to coaching and structure. If you lose a player or leader, that hurts the mood of the team and recruiting.
When we look back on this year the inconsistency of the offensive line is going to be a real focal point. It is a shame that things might have been different if emotions and pride hadn't gotten in the way of things.
As for why I didn't address this when it first happened? I am in my usual tough spot. I don't know Thomas or Spaz. No one who knew what was going on could go on record, so instead of stirring things up I just let it be. It doesn't surprise me that Spaz finally addressed it in the safe harbor of the Globe and Herald and after he is feeling a little safer about his own job. I just hope he has learned from this. Sometimes the difference between a five game losing streak and say going 2-3 is how you handle the players' emotions and not just the Xs and Os.