Spaziani fired by Boston College

By Greg Joyce

Spaziani fired by Boston College

One chapter of Boston College football history was closed on Sunday, allowing a new one to begin with the hopes of reviving the fallen program.

In a meeting on Sunday between Frank Spaziani and athletic director Brad Bates, Spaziani was told that we was being relieved of his duties as head coach of the Eagles, effective immediately. Bates said that the decision was based on the season as a whole, which ended with a 2-10 record.

“[The decision] was made at the conclusion of the season yesterday,” Bates said. “It’s been an assessment that’s been ongoing since my arrival here. It’s been an evaluation of a body of work, and not a game-to-game emotional decision.”

Bates lauded Spaziani for his integrity and passion for the program, but in the end, the firing came down to wins and losses.

“Ultimately, all of us our measured on our performance,” Bates said. “When you’re working in a profession of athletics, winning is a very big factor in that performance.

“Spaz clearly is a man of integrity. He genuinely cared about his students. And the performance obviously in the last couple of years has struggled.”

The announcement ended Spaziani’s 16-year career in Chestnut Hill, one that was marked by a highly regarded 10-year tenure as defensive coordinator before he took over for four years as head coach. He leaves with an overall record of 21-29 while at the helm.

“Obviously this is a sad day for my family and me,” Spaziani said in a statement. “Boston College has been my home for more than 16 years, and I have been fortunate to work with some amazing student-athletes. I will always treasure my relationships with them and the BC staff.  Boston College is a tremendous place, and I am extremely thankful for my time there. I wish the current and future Eagles nothing but the best.”

Bates’ conversation with Spaziani was a difficult one, but said the coach handled it well.

“Just like you would expect him to—with complete class and dignity and professionalism,” Bates said. “He’s a special guy. Think about this—he gave a quarter of his life to Boston College.

“Frank’s fingerprints will be felt around this University for many years to come. He’s influenced people who will go out and influence others. The values that he taught those young men will continue to live on for perpetuity.”

While he did not talk to any of the players to consider their opinions on the matter before making the decision, Bates was the first to tell them of the announcement. He gathered the team into a room in the Yawkey Center and notified them of the decision. Bates said that he and Spaziani felt that this was the best way to deliver the news, and that Spaziani would meet with players, likely on a one-on-one basis throughout the coming week.

Now, Bates will begin a search for Spaziani’s replacement, and he is looking for three main factors in the process while considering candidates.

“One is we want someone that oozes with integrity,” Bates said. “Secondly, we want somebody who genuinely and sincerely cares about the students, particularly their intellectual development and will engage in facilitating their maximum development as scholars, as athletes, as leaders, as servers. The third thing is we want someone who is going to win.”

While he won’t limit the list of candidates to coaches who have head coaching experience, Bates said that factor could play a role in the final decision.

“There are a lot of very talented coaches out there that have not had head coaching experience,” he said. “Having said that, if all else is equal, that would clearly distinguish them.”

Bates does not have a specific timetable for the new hiring, but wants to move as quickly as possible while being sure to make the best decision.

“We’ll move as quickly as possible, but we will be very, very deliberate,” Bates said. “This is an incredibly significant hire, relative to the leadership of our department and our program. So we’ve got to make absolute sure we get the best fit for what this program needs right now.”

While many were concerned about BC falling behind in the head coach hiring race, with other schools making midseason firings, and now a solid list of schools with openings—Auburn, NC State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, California—Bates said an AD is always prepared, and he already has a list of candidates.

“Any athletic director in the country is prepared for any change that takes place,” Bates said. “Does it mean that people on the list will ultimately be the ones that are hired or interviewed? Of course not. But we’ve got to perpetually be prepared for any attrition that takes place.”

While there is plenty of competition out there for head coaches, Bates said that he thought BC would stand out to the right kind of candidate that he is looking for.

“There may be candidate competition, but I think you’ll see that BC is a very unique place,” Bates said. “The types of people that will be very attracted to this situation, because of its uniqueness, will stand out.”

“There are a lot of great coaches out there, but not every great coach is a perfect fit for Boston College. We’ve got to identify who that person is that brings those three characteristics and fits within our current context of needs for the program.”

No matter who takes over as head coach, there will be a certain adjustment that will need to take place among the entire team. The biggest thing will be the new mentality the coach will instill in his players, but the new coach also usually comes with a new staff.

The offense has been through four offensive coordinators in the past three years, and it could see its fifth in four years if current offensive coordinator Doug Martin is not retained by the incoming head coach. Bates said that was a concern, but that a good head coach could make up for that instability.

“It’s always a concern,” Bates said. “Whenever you have a lack of continuity, then that presents a challenge for the next staff to try and connect the dots on that inconsistency in terms of scheme vocabulary. At the same time, if you get the right coach, and they can connect the dots, you’ve been exposed to multiple ways of viewing that football field that not everyone gets a chance to experience. I think the potential can be a great opportunity in the hands of a very talented coach.”

Concerning the current coaching staff and all of the assistants, Bates said as of right now they will play out their full contracts, but a new coach could come in and change that.

“They’re still employed by Boston College and will be so until the end of their contracts,” Bates said. “The new staff will have autonomy on who they would want to retain beyond the contracts’ expiration dates. I suspect there will be some that will stay on and some that will move on.”

No current assistant coach will be considered for the head coaching job, Bates said.

As far as the details of working out Spaziani’s contract, which has three years remaining on it, Bates would not go into the details of what a possible buyout might be, but said he’d do what is in the best interest of the students, the program, and the team.

Though Bates has only been the AD at BC for just over a month, he knew this was a decision he had to make, though it wasn’t about making his stamp on the athletic department and University.

“It’s not really about me,” Bates said. “It’s not about my stamp. This is about a football program that has a storied history and tradition. It’s about the players that have come here in the past and the level of achievement and standards that they have set for us to live by daily, and it’s about our current and future students that are in this program. I’m really a caretaker of the great things that have happened in the past of this program and hopefully a catalyst to returning to the high standards.”

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