Monday, November 12, 2012

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?


The Job 
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.


Loyalty
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.

Game Management
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?

History
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.

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24 Comments:

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Anfield10 said...

Anybody have any thoughts regarding Jim Tressel as next head coach? I was never his biggest fan when he was at OSU but the more I think about it the more I think it is possible and might work:

1) Let's face it, his scandal, in light of other recent ones, doesn't look so bad now and wouldn't seem to make him unhirable.

2) I think he would jump at the chance to coach a D-1 school again.

3) Due to his age and history, he might actually stay at BC rather than use it as a stepping stone

4) A big name which would get us in the news

5) Proven track record to attract players and proven track record of recruiting

6) Strong connection to a major BC recruiting area (Ohio)

Anybody else think this is possible or a good idea?

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

wow...a thorough and accurate takedown of the dismal Spaz/Gene era at BC. Let's put it behind us and pray that Bates can deliver a good coach from the search. i am still high on the two MAC candidates, either the guy at Tulsa or the guy at Northern Illinois.

how about a basketball post -- we looked good in the win on Sunday, the 2 freshman can both play, and Ryan Anderson is a stud. GO EAGLES!

 
At 6:11 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

* Toledo, not Tulsa.

 
At 7:03 PM, Blogger blockparty said...

ATL, can you provide examples when you state, "when Spaz had whispered to Gene and undercut TOB and Jags when he was an assistant"?

How did he do this? When? Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but it is the first time I've ever really heard of this happening.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger Evora11 said...

Ever To Underachieve

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

So Spaz punched Rogers and made him bleed? You better come up with a real source on that comment. It is almost unbelieveable to me that you are using Mark Blaud. as a pseudo-source after all the bs you and he have(you can deflect it but you both have dedicated lengthy posts against each other).

Let's say that Spaz punched Rogers and lets say Rogers deserved it, he went after Spaz(probably after a passive agressive wise-ass Spaz comment. "Hey, great call on the 4th down play."). Are you telling me that Gene new about the altercation and did not fire Spaz? That is a big claim at Boston College. Gene could lose his consulting and teaching job if that were true. Students who fight and get caught are given restraining orders and more often than not thrown out of the school. The head coach of the football program ought to be held to a higher standard and removed if he were found to be involved in a physical altercation.

The irony of your insight about Spaz is that he has not put up much of a fight over his career at BC either as a D Coordinator or Head Coach - - the bend but don't break defense is as passive aggressive as it gets.

Spaz needs to go.

It will take a competant head coach two years to get us back into a bowl. No sweat.

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

Bravo ATL!!

One of your best posts ever.

And what a great read too.

Congrats on a terrific job!

Spaz drew blood...wow.

And I too am really tired of the "Spaz is a nice guy" crap. He is not a nice guy.

As for loyalty, I think Spaz stayed because he had no where else to go.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger TeddyE said...

I'd be a nice guy too, if I made a million dollars a year. Let's announce spaz is gone and let the search begin. I am tired of talking about him. Facts are facts. Look at his record and direction of program. Brad? Anyone home? How hard is it to say buh-bye

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger Laxman said...

Spaz was completely overwhelmed from day one as HC. BC never had a chance

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Anfield:

Tressel has an NCAA show clause and will have to sit out at least five games the next time he gets an NCAA job. I don't think BC or Bates is going to roll the dice with that as Bates first major move.

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger eagleboston said...

I loathe this man. He inherited a great program and has destroyed it in just 4 years. He has failed to recruit. He has had decreasing wins each year. He has lost to Duke and Army. And to top it off, he is 0-4 against Notre Dame. Any self-respecting, honorable man would resign. But this arrogant pig wants to cash in on this utter destruction like a Wall Street CEO. I wish I had a job where I could be completely irresponsible and incompetent and get paid for non-performance. I can understand a severance payment, but this clown is getting 6 figures for accomplishing absolutely nothing.

I am very, very concerned for the future of BC football. I don't think this is a situation that can be turned around in 2-3 years. It is going to take 5 years to bring in the right players and rebuild the program. And a hiring misstep could set us back an entire decade (see Syracuse).

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Blockparty:

Gene and Spaz had a lunches and meetings all the time. My writing that he undercut is admittedly gossipy in nature but I am solid on it with regards to Jags. With TOB, what I got was second hand, but supposedly Spaz would often gripe about Bible's schemes and playcalling to Gene.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

ATL your link about Blauds acknowledging blood seems incorrect. Got a better link?

Also, did you know that hapless Blauds -- and his "highly popular blog" -- is the Football Writers Assoc Beat Writer of the Year for 2012. Ha! What a joke. That guy sucks as bad at his job a Spaz does.

Here is The Link to the Absurd

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Knucklehead:

I don't know what I can do with regards to a real source. Spaz? Rogers? They are not talking. Hence I have to use "alleged." I wrote early on that Rogers was fired. I have a source on that. All the fight stuff trickled out shortly thereafter. I know that the players did not see how or what happened. Some did see the blood. The witnesses were the staff members and even then there has been only off the record stuff or as Bruce Feldman reported: "Spaz crossed a line."

The only cover up was saying Rogers left for health reasons. But think of how many other BC people have left over health reasons. It is protection for both sides.

Not trying to deflect anything. This post was inspired by what Blauds wrote and what I anticipate will come from others in the coming weeks.

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Here is the quote from Blauds regarding blood, in case it is removed:

"Rogers has recovered enough to resume his coaching career as an assistant at Temple. But the rumors of a wild physical confrontation in the locker room after a 30-3 BC loss at Central Florida last season continue to simmer. There might have been angry words spoken following the game, but actual physical contact? Please.


Rogers was actually ill–spitting up blood. Maybe it was the stress of working at job where things weren’t working the way he wanted them to work.
For his continued silence on the matter, Rogers was compensated by BC."

http://ajerseyguy.com/?p=3417

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

Thanks, ATL. . Spaz must be Blauds' source.

It is absolutely appalling that Leahy and the BOT do not care about this - or is the first time blood spilling by a BC coach has actually been mentioned by a - oh I hate to say this - quasi journalist

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger lbkjj said...

Very good article and hard to dispute. Coaches don't have to be " good guys", they just have to win.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Henning12 said...

Spaz ain't going anywhere. Bates is gonna give him another year. Get ready for another sad season.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Lally said...

Ah, yes. Rogers couldn't handle the "stress" of a BC- Central Florida football game. This after a 35 year coaching career that included little known stops such as Donovan McNabb's years at Syracuse, and a regional religious school in Indiana known as Notre Dame. And some work with a jeans salesman in Minnesota.

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

I'm very busy this week, and won't be able to comment as much as I would like to comment.

I was at the game Saturday night, and it was obvious that ND had much more talent than BC. The players gave their all, but we didn't have a chance.

As an example, #80 Tyler Eifert, 6'6", 250 could have caught 30 passes if ND wanted to go that route. They would split him out and Silvia was so overmatched it was really obvious. And yet Spaziani and his coaches made ZERO adjustments.

Anyway, here are a couple of gems from the Globe:

But there are games left on the schedule, and Spaziani is focused on winning them.

“We’re close, but there’s no cigar yet,” he said. “Maybe this week it will happen, maybe it won’t. But we certainly need to work.”

Rolandan “Deuce” Finch’s return was more by necessity than anything else, but he picked up 43 yards on seven carries after sitting out six straight games. Still, his status going forward isn’t clear. “We just can’t project him into a more active role until he demonstrates that he’s earned it,” Spaziani said. “He certainly stepped up and looked like a good back last night.”

What an A.H.

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

I was sad to see Bicknell go, but he wasn't cutting the mustard, so to speak. It was inevitable.

I was glad to see Henning go because he wasn't a college HC and didn't have the ability to handle college football players.

But this guy makes Ed Chlebek look good.I am pissed that Spaziani is still here.

Glad to see him go does not begin to cover what we all feel for this palooka.

What a terrible hire.

Mr. Bates - the BC world is watching. Do you want to compete, or quit? Read eagleboston's observations.

The next 3 weeks are very important, and I hope you have some great and enthusiastic candidates lined up already.

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Atl,
You are making my point that your information is anecdotal with regards to a real physical altercation.

My larger point is the importance of having a source because if what you are saying/relaying is TRUE then Gene knew about it and did nothing with regards punishing Spaz, officially. If Spaz was invloved in a fight provoked or otherwise he should have been removed from his role.

The importance of an on the record source confirming the physical altercation is important if you are going to write about it because it shows 1) Spaz is a Spaz and 2) Gene allowed Spaz to be a Spaz. If the University allowed Spaz and Gene to continue their functions when they were involved in a fight then that is hypocrital because the mission and the policies of the university do not allow for such behavior.

If there is a source then Gene could lose his current cush job and Spaz could be out of millions in severance when he is let go.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

It's irrelevant (IMO) whether Spaz was whispering insubordinate nothings in Flip's ear and whether or not he punched Rogers. We can't prove either, but we don't need to. The 2012 season is not a sudden unforeseen anomaly, it's the continuation of a steepening descent that began four years ago. Any objective, comprehensive review of the program over that period has to conclude with a recommendation to clean house, starting from the top. There is not a single facet of the program that has not declined under Spaziani's leadership. Nevermind all that other noise.

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger Mosi said...

Bill, you have nailed it and now the world sees what is behind the curtain of 'Good Guy Frank'. I think that Spaz has 2 big influences on him, and not to our betterment. 1) he is from the era when the HC was King, Bryant, Hayes, hell he played for that unindiated piece of shit Joe Pa... so that is how he sees the HC job, let the assts do the work, he strides the sideline for us in the stands to bask in his glory

and 2) he knows deep in his soul that he has fucked things up completely and has been 100% over his head since day 1 (which we all knew) and is a total failure.

my biggest fear is that I run into him at a harborside bar that he has been know to frequent, it was the sight of his cigar smoke interview with Blauds a couple years ago. I'm sude that the words total fucking failure will come out of my mouth, loudness depending on how many Bud Lights I'm packin at the time

 

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