One blogger's perspective on the coming Spaz narrative
As I predicted, now that there is no hope that he can turn things around, Spaz defenders and apologists are trying to shape the narrative that Spaz is a “good guy and great coach” who just couldn’t get the job done at BC. That is not reality. Spaz never should have been hired and has not done a good job while head coach. Whenever you talk or write about Spaz, his defenders always bring up Jags. Spaz’s predecessor hasn’t been employed by BC since 2009. He is irrelevant to the conversation and Spaz’s current situation. Spaz’s record is of his own making. It is not Jags or anyone else's. Show me any other fanbase in college sports that would accept that sort of logic in a coach’s fourth season?
As we begin a search again it is important to remember what the job entails and why Spaz was never a good fit. Being a head coach is about more than football knowledge. That is the basic requirement. You need to have good people skills, management skills and organizational skills. You are in charge of more than a dozen staffers and grad assistants. A head coach is responsible for more than 100 players. And the job is not just babysitting those players. To be effective you need to develop them as football players and you need to find 20 to 25 high school students to replace your departing players every year. Finally the head coach must be the face of the program. He is the persona you are going to sell to recruits and fans. He is also the lead spokesman to the media. Spaz – even prior to becoming head coach – was considered a bit of a prickly personality, a disinterested recruiter and an awkward media presence. All those factors were the reason he didn’t get the job when TOB left. None of them changed two years later.
The stability of the hire
In the coming weeks you’ll read that BC turned to Spaz during its time of need after the Jags situation blew up. The timing and the situation were of BC’s making but they were highly unique. BC was also coming off two very successful seasons. Making a hire based on continuity and stability was not necessarily a bad decision. Hiring Frank Spaziani was. At the time BC had two better options than Spaz on staff. Steve Logan and Jack Bicknell Jr. were both very interested in replacing Jags. Both had previous experience as Head Coaches and both understood the demands of being a head coach. Of course neither were truly considered because Gene Defilippo wanted to keep his influence on the program. Gene knew that Spaz was more malleable and dependent on him than Logan or Bick ever would have been.
Defenders are quick to write about Spaz’s loyalty to BC, but I’ve never understood how you measure this or justify it as a reason for the hire. What other business, school or team would place a multi-million dollar organization in the hands of someone based on loyalty? You could argue that Barry Gallup has been more “loyal” to BC than Spaz ever was. He wasn’t really considered by Gene. Also where was Spaz’s true loyalty? Most who know him best say that he stayed at BC not solely because of his love of the school, but because he didn’t want to move his family and Gene promised him an important role with the new coach. If BU had an ACC football program and they had hired TOB, do you think Spaz would have stayed at BC out of loyalty? He stayed because it was best for his career and family. That is what 99% of us would do too. He should not be faulted for staying but the act shouldn’t be turned into some noble work of charity by Spaz.
Recruiting and rosters
Spaz has been quick to remind everyone of all the problems he inherited. Regardless of the validity of those problems, he has now had four years to fix them. There should be no holes in the roster or depth chart. If old players weren’t good enough, he’s had ample time to replace them with new players. He is not even using his full scholarship allotment each year. That’s neglect. There are many varied and successful strategies to recruiting. Spaz’s strategy has been to get low-hanging fruit who will commit to BC on his timetable (the summer). I have no problem with that if it works. Based on our declining record I would say it hasn’t. We’ve also had a fair bit of roster attrition. Some attrition is natural in college football, but you have to question the environment created when guys with completed BC degrees leave under varied circumstances. I know there are plenty of great guys on our current roster. But having great character on our roster is not a Spaz thing. BC has been recruiting and molding young men for decades. It predates him and is part of our culture. It will be part of our culture after he is gone too.
Staffs, Coordinators and Kevin Rogers
Coaching football is not a one-man band. You need trusted assistants at every position. Gene influenced Jags’ staff (and forced Spaz on Jags) and then did the same thing to Spaz. Perhaps that dynamic doomed Spaz from the start. How could he expect his staff not to undercut him with Gene when he had whispered to Gene and undercut TOB and Jags when he was an assistant? When the time came for his first staff, he went outside of Gene’s network to bring in his old friend (and twice retired Gary Tranquill). Tranquill could have been a good sounding board and adviser to a first-time coach but he never should have been put in charge of the entire offense. When Tranquill retired for a third time Spaz and Gene disagreed on the new OC. The compromise was Kevin Rogers. We all know how it ended, but no one wants to go on record with what led up to the ending. I was not there (obviously). Only the coaches were. It is alleged that Spaz punched Rogers at halftime of the UCF game. Spaz’s friend and confidant Blauds will acknowledge that Rogers bled from the mouth and there were angry words, but claims there was nothing physical. Did they serve shards of glass in the Coach’s Box at UCF? Did Rogers bite his tongue from arguing? Did he have miraculous case of 30 minute TB? The denials don’t even matter at this point. The staff changes tell enough of the story. This was not a good working environment. And because of that our offense has been dreadful for four seasons. How you prepare, the systems you use and how you teach impact the results on the field. Spaz never seemed to figure that out or trust anyone else enough to fix it for him.
All of Spaz issues could be overlooked if we won more. That is that case at every school. But we didn’t. Our strategies and gameplans have been suspect many times. His use of timeout and the clock have caused endless frustration. In four seasons and almost 50 games, Spaz has never comeback from a deficit of more than seven points. How does that happen? We should have lucked into one small comeback over the years. But this is the same guy who trotted out the same defense for a decade. Why did anyone expect him to become a great situational manager once he was put in charge?
We will get a new coach and be good again one day. But don’t let BC critics or Spaz apologists rewrite this decline. Spaz wanted the job for a variety of reasons, was a thorn in Jags' side while Jags was here and then led BC down this slow decline once he finally got his turn. He never should have been hired in the first place.