Welcome to BC. Now get to work
One of the reasons I liked the Bates hire is that he's experienced in ways the other finalists weren't. These AD jobs are highly political. You have to deal with donors, administrators, coaches and your fellow ADs. Everyone's got an angle and an agenda. A guy new to this type of role or this many players might have been overwhelmed. Bates looks like he will be fine in that department. The parallels between the Miami community's reaction and are reaction to Gene's departure are noted, but after ten years, even the most loyal of fans will want some new blood and new ideas. On a whole you cannot question the success of Bates's tenure at Miami. I am not worried about what he did or didn't do at Miami. My concern is what he plans to accomplish at BC. Much of Bates' agenda will be determined by pressing needs and BC's overriding plans for the University, but with that in mind, I offer my advice to Mr. Bates.
- You are not hiring a football coach for Miami of Ohio. You are hiring a football coach for Boston College. I understand all the niceties to the media, but Frank Spaziani will not be coaching BC Football next fall. Because of timing, BC will be one of the better jobs available this offseason. We do not have to settle for anyone or take a flyer on an up and comer. You can make your pick of several exciting and sought after candidates. I don't know what preliminary budget BC has given you for the hire, but even if we pay in the bottom half of the conference, we will still have great possibilities. Our last two football searches were all about prior relationships with your predecessor Don't make that same mistake. Find the best person for this job.
- Don't accept "but that's how we've always done it" as an answer from your staffers, BC leadership or employees. One of the things I appreciate about Bates is that he is not a boat rocker and seems to be a consensus builder. That's also a nice change from recent past, but that doesn't mean Bates shouldn't challenge current lines of thought. I am glad BC went for someone from outside our community. All aspects of the Athletic Department need to be evaluated. In his speech he mentioned game day experiences and marketing. But I also think how we deal with media, how we deal with Newton and the surrounding communities and how we operate within the ACC need to be improved or changed.
- Get ready to raise lots of money and spend a lot of time looking a blueprints. I know there are many factors in play, but it is embarrassing that the baseball field hasn't broken ground. People look at Alumni and Conte and talk about seating configuration or air conditioning. Those issues are minor. Both buildings have long overdue basic maintenance investments. The Plex is a joke. Plus we need a practice facility. Based on the Athletic Capital campaigns announced at other private schools, these projects are going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and require careful planning. For example the Plex cannot come down until its replacement is up. Instead of renovating Alumni/Conte do we tear down and rebuild on the same footprint (with a new indoor football practice facility and second hockey rink)? Those ideas have been discussed. Now they need action.
- Ask what sports we need to play. Every team has its supporters, but how long can BC sustain its current mix of teams? For all those Lacrosse lovers, I don't think it will ever return. In fact it is more likely other sports will join Lax in the used to have a team category. I think Gene was happy to put those issues on the backburner, but budget wise and scholarship wise it needs to be considered.
- Have fun. One thing that wasn't mentioned today but needs to be remembered, is that beyond our academic mission or promoting the school, sports are supposed to be fun. Aside from a moment here or there, BC sports have not been fun in the past few years. Winning will help, but how we approach the games, celebrate the big and little moments and embrace each other all contributes to the level of fun around the program. If you want to change that, it starts with you. Be thankful that you are working at one of the best athletic programs in the country and at one of the best schools in the country. There are tens of thousands of people who love BC and want you to succeed. Engage those people, entertain those people, and keep those people in mind as you make decisions. When things are good at BC, they are really good. Help rekindle that and we'll be forever thankful.