The line-by-line takedown of a mainstream article by a blogger is a trope at this point. Yet after reading Mark Blaudschun's feature on Spaz
, I felt there was no other choice. I hope Blaudschun didn't spend much time on it since he could have just asked Coach Flip to write the article himself. Prepared to be pissed...
When you are the coach of a team that went 4-8, as the Eagles did this season, you get a lot of questions. When you coach at BC, where the underground chatter overwhelms the public utterances, you can easily be swept away.
This season, some of the feedback was downright vicious, coming from all areas, including the student paper, whose sports editor wrote a sermon-on-the-mount column telling Spaziani and the local media what was wrong with the way things were being run at BC.
“I view it as my duty, therefore, to keep the administration honest, especially when The Globe and The Herald refuse to do so,’’ wrote the editor.
“With the football team struggling through its worst season in over a decade, the two most prominent papers in Boston have accepted the excuses of head coach Frank Spaziani and athletic director Gene DeFilippo at face value. They have chalked up the team’s record this year to injuries, youth, and bad luck. Neither The Globe nor The Herald has criticized the decisions from the sideline.’’
Blauds and BC have no idea what real scrutiny is like. "underground chatter" vs "public utterances" is part of every sports fanbase in the country. In fact in most places the "chatter" is not underground. It is in your face every day. Do you think the Patriots would be worried about "underground chatter" after losing 2/3rds of their games? How about the Red Sox? Or what about the teams of the SEC or Big Ten? One of the reasons the Spaz hire and Gene's actions get so little notice is because in general our fanbase is loyal, has relatively low expectations and doesn't like to air laundry publicly. Gene and in turn Spaz have taken that relationship for granted and blatantly insulted any logical fan with some of their self-serving comments.
Thank God for The Heights Sports Editor Paul Sulzer for using his platform to state the obvious and give voice to the ignored. Blauds is just upset that a Senior in college out worked him and called him out for his hack efforts.
Other criticism comes in Internet chat rooms, where it is easy to throw grenades without attaching a name to them.
I love the Internet chat room cliche. Does anyone at the Globe read what Blauds is writing? Look at any Boston.com article on BC and you will see tons of comments attached by readers to those articles. It is not chat rooms that are harboring these BC fans. It is on blogs, message boards, Twitter, Facebook and other media. And for every anonymous grenade thrower, there are hundreds with their names and BC affiliations attached who aren't afraid to share their opinion. If Blauds every actually paid attention to Twitter he would see dozens of Spaz's former players mocking him and criticizing him openly!
It has been a tough year for the AD, whose public utterances have created a firestorm in some quarters. Much of it has come from DeFilippo simply telling the truth.
It could be a dreary winter at BC, with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams looking like bottom-feeders in the ACC. Even the men’s hockey team, which has national championship trophies on display, has hit some speed bumps.
But BC does one thing as well as anyone. It brings in good kids who become better adults. For the most part, it turns out poster boys for everything a parent wants in a child, people such as Matt Ryan, Luke Kuechly, and this year’s Scanlan Award winner, Ryan Quigley.
I could go on and on with Gene's firestorm comments but one thing he is not doing is telling the truth. Anyone with rudimentary math skills can tell you that. Basketball and hockey are unrelated to Spaz and the problems with the football team. You can certainly question some of Gene's decisions regarding those sports, but no one is calling for his head because of that.
I am glad Blauds recognizes that BC produces good kids, but that is part of the culture that preceded Coach Flip or Spaz ever setting foot on campus. Coach Flip is quick to take credit for it, but there are thousands of BC athletes in all sports who come in as good kids and leave as good adults that never say more than two words to their AD. And most become good adults because of who they are, the values their families had, the environment in which they matured at college, the education they received and often because of the coaches and assistant coaches they had while at BC. This has little to do with Gene or Spaz. They didn't create this culture. They are just care takers. BC will be producing great student athletes long after these two excuse makers are gone.
I'll skip over the talent and record issues Blauds gets to next. It is just more fluff that no critics are really concerned with. I want to get to the most egregious stuff Blauds spewed.
Were mistakes made? Of course.
Dubious coaching moves during games caused some inner turmoil. The issue of fan treatment is ongoing. But BC fans are different than their brethren. The core base is loyal beyond belief and needs to be treated with extra tenderness and consideration.
The student body can be indifferent to the point of distraction. Let’s face it, BC athletics is not the only game in town, unlike many other college outposts. Not even close.
But the bottom line for BC is that Spaziani is the man in charge, and he sees a big picture that many outsiders - and even insiders - do not.
Mistakes? There are too many to recount. But that is what all the Spaz apologists fail to address. Forget talent. Forget Jags. Forget injuries. Spaz is not a good in-game decision maker. He is cowardly in his approach and a fool when it comes to use of timeouts or scoring. This is costing BC games. There is no one to blame.
Dubious coaching moves didn't just cause inner turmoil. They created a meltdown at halftime of the Central Florida game that led to Kevin Rogers' firing. God forbid Blauds ever dig deeper on that. I get in trouble for passing on gossip, but given the statements last week in the Globe regarding Spaz possibly taking over the defensive reigns regardless if McGovern got the UMass job and the weird statements he's made regarding the Offense, do we just want to call it inner turmoil? People reading between the lines would say Spaz doesn't have a ton of goodwill on the staff.
The biggest part of the problem is that Spaz is not the man in charge. Coach Flip is. If Spaz was the man in charge he would have 100% say in his own staff.
“In this world, as you go forward, success is important,’’ said Spaziani, who in three full seasons at BC has compiled a 19-19 record. “It is the barometer that everybody measures you with.
“Success is subjective. It is someone else’s measuring stick for what you did. That’s the way the world works. We have to function in it.
I don't think Spaz gets it. One of the beauties of sports is that success is not subjective. If you are an artist or a teacher or a lawyer or a business person, success has a degree of subjectivity. Your measuring stick might not be the same as your competition or your peers. In sports, someone wins and someone loses. It is objective. 4-8 is not the same as 8-4.
There will be issues, of course. Internal staff changes could be coming.
But Spaziani says he sees a clearer picture than anyone else. He sees a foundation being laid for not only next season but the year after that and beyond.
“To the guys coming back,’’ said Spaziani, “you’ve seen the edge. Why did we get better? You kept working and you started to get an edge. You need to keep that edge.
“Step back, nonbelievers. There is a foundation here.
“In four years, we won’t be talking about 4-8. We won’t be talking about who is in the Orange Bowl. We will be talking about what we did.’’
If we don't turn the corner, there won't be a "year after that and beyond." Spaz is on the clock and so is Gene. The anger you read and hear now will only grow as these two continue to insult their critics with nonsense.
Spaz is talking about four years from now. I am not trying to be an ageist, but Spaz will be 65 next season. In four years he will be eligible for Social Security. People are questioning his desire and motivation now. Are we to expect him to have a burning desire in four more years?
In an era when coaches are fired after two years, when critics call for their heads after only one season, BC is different. Give DeFilippo credit for having patience under fire - heavy fire in some quarters.
Changing head coaches would mean more turmoil. Four coaches in seven years is not the way to build a program.
Frank Spaziani knows that. And while there are no guarantees that things will improve dramatically next season, there is nothing to say they won’t.
BC is not different from other schools and Gene DeFilippo is not patient. He fired Jags after two years and showed no patience. Do you think he is going to show any patience with Sylvia Crawley? Would a patient program be on their fourth offensive coordinator of the Spaz era?
I could list dozen of programs that have had frequent coaching changes over a short period of time. Turnover doesn't matter when you make the right hires. When you have the right coach the progression is obvious. Just like the decline is obvious now.
But if four coaches in seven years is even a consideration, why isn't that Coach Flip's fault? How does he escape blame from Blauds? Coach Flip let the winningest coach in BC football walk. He fired Jags after two seasons. He made the decision to promote Spaz, even though he himself didn't give the job to Spaz two years earlier.
Blauds is right that there are no guarantees things will get better. But what is guaranteed is that Spaz's approach will cost us wins and both Spaz and Gene will continue to make excuses for their losses and take credit for things that are about BC and not about them.