Thursday, July 07, 2011

3rd year is the charm

In this Blue Ribbon preview, Spaz starts talking about the challenges of not having many fifth year seniors on the roster. I'll save the validity of the 5th year void for another date, but what has me scratching my head is why are we still making excuses in Year 3. Forget the continuity that Spaz brought to the position. Put aside the bare cupboard debate for a moment. Even if a coach takes over a program in tatters, shouldn't Year 3 be the turning point?

By the third year a coach should have the majority of the roster filled with "his" players. He should have some cohesiveness among the staff. He should have his own QB in place and he should have a good feel for the conference and other teams's tendencies. Great coaches are well on their way by Year 3. But for this post I didn't want to cherry pick great coaches to make Spaz look like he is whining. Instead I just wanted to focus on BC. If you look at our history is Year 3 an indicator of where the program is headed?
[For relevancy, I started with Post WWII BC football.]

BC Coaches in their Third Year
Myer -- 1946. Record: 6-3 (Myer's tenure was interupted by WWII.)
Holovak -- 1953. Record: 5-3-1
Miller -- 1965. Record: 6-3
Yukica -- 1970. Record: 8-2
Chlebek -- 1980. Record: 7-4
Bicknell -- 1983. Record: 9-3
Coughlin -- 1993. Record: 9-3
Henning -- 1996. Record: 5-7
O'Brien -- 1999. Record: 8-4

Aside from Henning, everyone else has a winning record. Even Ed Chelibek -- the guy who had the worst season in BC history -- had things turned around by Year 3. I am not ready to make W-L predictions for this season yet but there really should be no excuses to justify a down season. This is Spaz's team and Spaz's program and Spaz's 5th year seniors.


I'm Keith said...

Coach Spaz was a good defensive coordinator. The jury will probably always be out on whether or not he is a great fit as head coach. I wish a BC head coach would just grab the bull by the horns, lose the excuses, and GET AFTER IT both on the field and the recruiting trail. TOB was pretty good, he just never seemed to believe that he could get that 10th or 11th win.

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

The "Year 3" analysis is fine, I think Spaz needs to be judged by how the team performs this year. We have the talent to compete for the ACC Championship game, if we don't, then he should probably be gone. I think the major exception to this is Beamer, who had several down years before turning things around.

But that said, I pasted the Spaz quote I found on EO below. If you read the quote below without viewing it through ATL's anti-Spaz glasses, its pretty clear he's just calling out the team and saying he expects younger guys to provide leadership that usually naturally falls to 5th year guys.

Spaz is not eloquent, but twisting this comment and making it seem like he's setting up excuses for next year is unfair, but unfortunately, pretty typical of the anti-Spaz bias on this blog of late. Let's judge him based on the team's performance this year, not ATL's arbitrary view of how a coach comment on his team.

"If you look at our depth chart or whatever you want to call it, that's what we really need," Spaziani said. "We have a little void here in our fifth-year players and our fourth-year eligibility guys. We're going to need leadership, and usually the strength of your program comes in that area. "This is where some of the potholes that we've been trying to navigate through the last few years have to be navigated through this year."

ATL_eagle said...


I know I am anti-Spaz, but I like to think I am more pro-BC. If you look back on my blog years during the TOB era, what sparked this blog in the first place was TOB's unchallenged excuses to the media. Whether or not he believed everything he said, he was sure to mention all the reasons BC might not win. Hearing echos of it from his longtime DC just gets me fired up again. One thing I loved about Skinner -- regardless of what his frustrations might have been -- is he didn't go around saying "____ will make this season tough." or "Once we overcome ______ we may be a top program." This is Year 3 for Spaz. I understand that the schedule is more difficult, but don't we need progress?

mod34b said...

Rob, seriously are you a Spaz fan or apologist?? If so, Click Here

Spaz is a not a good coach. It is well known

Claver2010 said...

Another excuse from coach sadface.

Jags on a tough start to the schedule: You know who else those games will be tough for? The other teams.

Spaz on the 2010 schedule (probably the easiest in recent memory): We have everyone but the Pats on our schedule.

In a market where we are competing constantly for eyes and most importantly $ we need someone who will sell the program, not someone who is making excuses for why we can't reach the ACC-CG

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Since I read this blog first thing everyday, obviously, I'm a fan of your work ATL. And I remember, with some frustration, the closing years of TOB.

I happen to believe in the year 3 theory. With some exceptions, most successful head coaches have shown improvement by year 3. If Spaz treads water this year, or heaven forbid, it gets worse, he needs to be shown the door.

Furthermore, I think you have every right to look at the last two years and to point out numerous issues with his game management, preparation, and to a lesser extent recruiting. My personal worry is that I don't think that you generally see teams successful coaches get completely annihilated more than once a decade, no matter what the talent level. BC has already had 5 under Spaz that I can think of off the top (Clemson '09, VTech '09, VTech '10, ND '10, NCSU '10.)

But I just think that your emphasis on his quotes is completely misplaced. Coaches who downplay their team and raise up their competition are the norm, not the exception. And for every Jags quote that Claver can pull out, I'd be happy to find you a Charlie Weis "schematic advantage" quote where the coach looked like an ass.

What we should be worrying about is onfield success and onfield failure. Whether Spaz is a good enough cheerleader for the team or makes "excuses" (I don't think the Blue Ribbon quote constituted excuse making) is about #500 on the list of issues with this guy. If the team is good, people will show up. If the team fails this year, then its been long enough to show that he's a good D-coordinator, but not capable of being a head coach and needs to go.

Whether he makes Claver feel all warm and fuzzy by verbally attacking Miami and Clemson is largely irrelevant.

goodfella95 said...

The Rogers hire was big. To me, Spaz only has to work on D. Rettig and Rogers are the show for the next 3 years!

eagleboston said...

Boy, I bet Frank Beamer is glad you did not have a Va Tech blog back in the early 90's.

Folks, we need to have patience this season. We have an inexperienced O-line, no pass rush to speak of and a brutal schedule. 8 wins might be a stretch and 6 is probably more realistic. Given how young the team is, I would at least give him this season and next. If he fails to have a winning season in the next 2 years, then he should be terminated.

mod34b said...

Eagleboston. a click comment

ATL_eagle said...


You realize that Beamer is only one year older than Spaz, right? Also Beamer won in Year 3 at Murray State and in Year 3 at VT.

"We have an inexperienced O-line, no pass rush to speak of and a brutal schedule"

We've had an experienced line the past two years and regressed significantly. No pass rush? Whose been in charge of the defense for 12 years? Why haven't we had a difference maker at DE since Kiwi. Doesn't Spaz share some of that blame.

The Beamer analogy is weak. We are not building a program with a young alum. He was a reactionary hire and a placeholder. Look at West Virginia. They made a similar decision hiring a loyal place holder after Rich Rod. After Year 3 there, they began their transition to the long term solution.

Edmonds4Life said...

The argument for not caring about what he says and only looking at the wins and losses would have a lot more weight in any other sport BUT college football, where all the talk, selling, and bravado actually has a direct impact on on-field opportunities. Sure, if we win every game we could go to a BCS bowl with a tree stump as a head coach, but short of that the entire postseason process is (at least in part) dependent on how a coach sells his school. Nobody wants to invite a boring team "on life support" to a halfway decent bowl, and no fans are going to want to go watch that team, which leads to lower attendance during the season, which leads to worse bowl opportunities.

Quietly going about your business and winning games in a crowded market is a lot more forgivable in hockey or basketball, but in football it actually does directly factor into how the season plays out.

EL MIZ said...

the Rogers hire was big not only because we now actually have an OC, but because spaziani was actively involved in the process, took his time, and hired his guy.

if the offense sputters this year, it can no longer be "well who knows if tranquill is even watching the game up there" its "spaz's boy rogers is screwing things up."

not to say that i think that'll happen. i think rogers was a good hire and i am staying optimistic on this year. in my mind, however, i agree with atl, and think the expectations are raised even without comparing spaz to other coaches in year 3. look at harbaugh at stanford -- a school as similar to BC as you can find in terms of academics and i'd say the old pac-10 is a good analog to the ACC. he took over a 1-11 team and went 4-8, 5-7, 8-5, and then last year 12-1 and won the rose bowl. this is not to compare spaz to harbaugh since harbaugh is light year's ahead of the stash as a coach, just merely to show that its not unfair to expect improvement with a team.

spaz should win at least 8 games. this team should not regress. we have arguably the best defensive player in the country in kuechly and one of the best RBs in the country in harris. any coach worth a dime should be able to get to a bowl game with those ingredients.

EL MIZ said...

also, if spaz and the team does sputter this year, i would hope that Gene changes his hiring philosophy. i would much much much prefer hiring a guy that is going to be at BC for 3-4 years and then bolt to the NFL or a better college football job if during that time the energy of the program improved, we brought in better recruits, had better performance on the field, won the ACC one year, and made/won the orange bowl.

no more of this needing to find a guy who wants to be at BC for 20 years. lets just get a great head coach and if he "uses" BC to get to greener pastures, so be it -- at least he will have proved along the way that it is possible to win at BC.

blist said...

While I tend to try and give Spaz the benefit of the doubt, El Miz' last comment is one of the problems I have with our HC and GDF: it HAS been proven you can win at BC. We're not Rutgers or Northwestern or Kent St - we have a long history of being very good at football, from the 1940 national championship (some gave us) through Flutie, Coughlin, Jags - the idea should be we need a push to get through our recent ceiling and get to a BCS bowl, not hope we can compete with the fearsome UCFs of the world.

mmason said...

Whenever I want a dose of East Coast BC football Angst I catch a look at ATL & the gang. Though the Harbaugh analogy is a stretch--he did have two massively aweful seasons at Palo Alto that many of my BC bruthas & sistuhs on this site would have been screaming insanely about and demanding his head on a pike...then, oops, the Rose Bowl (with a great QB, too, we might note.)...and the NFL.

Hey--Can we just watch the 2011 BC football season unfold for 1 time without all this pregame hysteria & paranoia that have become pathetically typical of BC football fans of late... and then light the torches and chase Coach Shrek from NeverNever to FahFaraway IF the Eagles go belly up. I don't like to reduce all this preseason animated
bad religion to a cartoon,...but seriously, folks. Let's Go Eagles and hit the beach on this one. We got an authentic OC, we have a good ground game, some WRs with hands and some D...we should be talking about the O-Line and our pass protect the kicking game and special teams, and not Spazian BS that is always more Sicilian than ND will ever be. Please--give it a rest! Let's play ball and hit people...Thankyou. Enjoy the weekend. That's what we're doing in L.A.

Benjamin said...

Well said mmason. Well said. I for one can't wait for the season. I want/expect wins from our program, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching if we lose a game.