Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Looking back on Brad Bates' first year

Tuesday Brad Bates provided his own recap of his first season at Boston College. It was fair and straight forward. Bates admits there is still work to be done. As fans and members of the Boston College community, I think we can look back on where we were and identify the big challenges ahead.

What's happened
The most important change in Bates' first year was firing Spaz and hiring Addazio. The Spaz portion was practically predetermined. Any new AD would have done the same thing. The only issue was if Bates should have fired Spaz midseason. Despite calling last year a waste of time, I don't think getting rid of Spaz would have benefited anyone. In fact it might have just created more recruiting issues or a temporary shot in the arm that might have pressured Bates to promote the interim to the full time job. Regardless of how you feel about Addazio, would you rather have Head Coach Doug Martin or Head Coach Bill McGovern? Some might argue that Bates could have got a jump on the head coaching search by firing Spaz earlier. I don't think it was a factor. Based on who we talked to and the type of candidates we approached, more time wouldn't have made much difference in the end result.

Addazio looks to be a decent hire so far. No one will really know if he was the right long-term choice for a few seasons. Short-term he has provided the energy and enthusiasm that the situation needed.

The other looming issue when Bates took over was our place in the conference landscape. Last fall the ACC was still vulnerable to another raid and there was doubt if the conference would be part of the new playoff. Now through a series of moves made by other people, BC is safe. The ACC is not going anywhere, the conference is better off financially and BC has access to the postseason. Although Bates wasn't a key player in those moves, he didn't screw it up. Going forward he will still need to politic and position BC for future dominoes, but I don't think anyone expects something happening in the next year. Once the playoff begins and the 5th and 6th team are left out, this issue will bubble up again.

Critical issues
Facilities and fundraising are constants for any AD. BC is about to enter another multi-year renovation project. I don't know Bates' style when working with other departments, but I hope he gets all of the major Athletic Department projects moving forward. BC's current offerings are not up to ACC standard in any ACC sport.

Bates best asset on the fundraising trail is that he is not Gene. There is no baggage and his approach is very different. By the nature of the job he has and will continue to rub some the wrong way, but overall I think he has been well received. From what I gather there is a similar feeling among BC staffers. Most like him but there are a few that don't.

Bates also needs to build on his early Marketing initiatives. But the best way to sell BC is through winning teams.

As far as coaching issues, there are three looming. The most obvious is baseball. I have very little hope for a turnaround this year. When the decision is made, I hope Bates has some good candidates lined up. For all the limitations BC baseball presents, we can still be a lot better.

Most think Donahue has at least another year and will probably get more if we succeed this year. But if things do fall flat, Bates will have to assess Donahue's status.

Finally, there is Hockey. Jerry York's health scare was reminder that he is not going to be BC's coach forever. Bates probably won't have to make a decision this year, but he should prepare for how he wants to handle it when it comes.

The future
I don't think Bates will be BC's AD as long at Gene was. That's not because of anything he's done, just more about how the nature of these jobs have changed and the changes facing BC. We will probably have a new University President within the next four years and that will have a ripple effect on major departments like Athletics. Ultimately Bates will be judged by how his coaches do and what he does with facilities. Based on his first year, I think Bates is taking us in the right direction.


JBQ said...

I have met and like Father (red headed) Leahy. The next president will probably be a non priest. This presages lots of changes across the board.

Ry said...

Couldn't disagree more. BC will be one of, if not the, last Jesuit school to go to a lay president. Far too much has been done to put it at the top of the heap with respect to theological -- specifically Catholic -- study in not only the US, but the world. If that is going to be a big part of the institutional identity moving forward, and all signs are that it will, I highly doubt the next president will be anything other than a Jesuit.