Thursday, December 23, 2010

'The Heck Was Gene Thinking?

Monday afternoon the bomb dropped on embittered Eagle faithful when Boston College announced a 2-year contract extension for head coach Frank Spaziani. The move comes after a less than inspiring regular season including a 5-game slide against ACC opponents and Notre Dame. Following an announcement full of hope and reassurance the question remains: what the heck was AD Gene DeFelippo thinking?

Let's get one thing straight. I am not a Spaz hater. Truth be told, if pressed, I would consider myself a Spaz supporter. I have loved his stout defenses as much as the next fan. I like his demeanor and the respect and admiration he seems to command from his players. He's not the most exciting head coach but I wasn't unhappy about his hiring.

With that out of the way let me say Frank Spaziani should not have been offered a 2-year extension after the lackluster play we saw this year. Granted, much of this year's struggles can be attributed to offensive coordinator Gary Tranquil. Even so, The Stache is not exonerated.

To my understanding (and I welcome new insight) there are 3 possible reasons for the Spaz extension and none of them are good. The first is obvious-performance. That is Spaz has done such a good job we extend his contract to reward him and keep him from being plucked away by another program. If you think any of this sounds like the situation we Eagles fans find ourselves in then you need more help than I can supply. A waste of a potentially very special season, tearing through starting quarterbacks, disappointing play from a very talented Oline, and coming out flat in big games at home are not to be rewarded. Further, the last time I checked there wasn't exactly a long line of suitors for The Stache. Lastly, Spaz has made it clear in Monday's announcement (and countless times before) that he's a BC guy and has no desire to go anywhere else. So okay, it's not performance driven.

The second reason proposed for the extension is that it was part of a deal between GDF and Spaz for the forced retirement of Gary Tranquil. I'm not buying this one either. Even if Gene offered Spaz the extension under the condition Boston College have an offensive coordinator next season with a name not rhyming with a sedative cold medicine, the deal is not justified. From where I'm sitting the athletic director should not have to throw around a contract extension to get a new OC especially after the lack of performance we have gotten from Tranquil over the last two seasons. If Genes' bargaining power is in fact this low the least of our worries is the Tranquil's "dive offense."

The last reason being given for Monday's bombshell is the extension was simply a way of appealing to recruits and alleviating their fears of major staff changes. With 3 years left on the contract as it stood this seems skeptical at best. If Spaz were trying to ring in this year's class with only one or two years left on his contract the extension might have been more defensible. The fact is there are far bigger concerns in the minds of kids who have said they're coming to play on the heights than what the Stache will be doing in 2015. the last point I'd like to make is addressing stance that some have taken suggesting the contract extension is a way of appeasing recruits' fears without making it more difficult for Boston College to fire Spaz (let's hope that day need not come). This argument simply won't hold. Either the extension makes it harder to fire Spaz and therefore supposedly eases recruits' objections or even with the extension it would be easy to fire Spaz and therefore does little to persuade this year's recruits. It's one or the other. You can't have it both ways.

We may look back in a couple years and be thankful we've got The Stache still under contract. I sincerely hope that day comes. Still it would not justify this decision, nor would it answer the question what was Gene thinking?


  1. Thats kinda weird, considering im about as far from a Spaz fan as they get and I could really care less. This is how colleges treat their coaches - it really means nothing long term and it does help the program sell itself to recruits. As students we might not truly understand how important coaching staffs are to the players.

    Also, I know that this extension doesnt matter if Spaz has another year like this in 2011, hes done. The ultimate decision makers are the alums and they spoke this past season: games were poorly attended. Gene knows this and he knows the impact the season had on the fan base. I personally got a tailgating spot on St. Thomas More for the Maryland game for about halfprice and we functionally had 3 spots because neither of the groups on either side of us decided to show up. The boring football Spaz plays is bad enough, when its play as poorly as it was the majority of this year, its a death knell for fan interest.

  2. Mike, thanks for commenting. You bring up a good point about the disconnect between the feelings of students and those of recruits in regard to staff changes. As for your confidence in the power of alumni to exert influence in staff changes, I hope you're right.

  3. Alex I would just like to start out by saying I am a 100% Spaz supporter. I think he carries himself well and is great for the school. Like you said, he commands a lot of respect. Where I come from, the job of a head coach first and foremost is make sure the team RESPECTS him. I will be careful here because a head coach has many responsibilities but getting the players to respect him is the foundation for a good team and thus a good program. Now I pose this question: You ask what was Gene thinking; I say do we need to know the reason?

    Not only do we not need to know, but how will we eve honestly know what the reason would be. Unless they come out and say "We brought Spaz back cause he's a great guy and blah blah blah" we will never know. Nor will we more than likely understand it. In my opinions Gene isnt going to intentionally make things worse for the team. Gene saw us play last year, saw our record. Instead of firing Spaz he says you know what, I dont think its you who is the problem and to prove that I mean that, I'm going to give you an extension.

    BASICALLY, to me all this is saying is that Gene wants to show his support and conviction to Spaz and honestly believes hes the right man for the job.

    All things aside, VERY well written and I can tell you know what you are talking about, and can appreciate your passion!

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  5. Thanks again for the comments. I think you are right to assert the importance of a head coach commanding respect from his players. One of the biggest things that can be said in favor of Spaz is that the players respect him. This is a great sign going forward.
    I would however, take issue with your assertion that fans are unlikely to understand why an AD would give a head coach an extension. It would seem that the cases in which the cause for an extension is obvious (i.e. performance driven) occur when the extensions are most desirable. At the least, we would have to admit that it is a troubling sign when fans of a program do not understand why their head coach got an extension.

  6. I think you are are right in the sense that there are certain reasons that a head coach should get an extension and good performance would normally be one of them. I would again like to say there are other reasons that a head coach would get an extension; reasons we as fans may not understand. As much as I hate to say maybe politics, we wouldnt get that. Maybe its because Gene really thinks Spaz is the right man for the program, we wouldnt know that. Not unless Gene came right out and said it.

    Now, you say we have to admit this is a troubling sign when the fans of a program do not understand why their head coach got an extension. I dont know if I agree with that. I mean sure we as fans would like to know why someone is given an extension especially after such a poor season, but the fact is there are endless possibilities for reasons and face it, the reasons might not all be stuff that we as fans would understand.


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