It’s bad enough that the Eagles went 4-8 this season, but Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo announced shortly after the BC-Miami game – a 24-17 BC win – that head coach Frank Spaziani would return.
Despite my holding out hope to the contrary, this is not unexpected. What was particularly galling, however, was how DeFilippo framed it:
“It [the call for Spaziani’s ouster] doesn’t matter,” DeFilippo told the Herald. “I’m with Spaz every single day. Spaz is the best coach that we’ve had in the 15 years that I’ve been here. Spaz is coming back next year and our future here is really, really bright.”
Gene DeFilippo’s quote drips with both arrogance and pure contempt for the Boston College fans who have already put up with three years of what amounts to, at best, mediocrity. It is obvious, by framing his retention of Spaz in such a manner, that he believes Eagles fans are too dumb for their own good and our concerns are not only invalid, but unwanted. Had he even said something more balanced like “It was a tough season and I understand the frustration of the fans, but we’re going to give Spaz another shot,” I would have hated it, but I wouldn’t have been incensed by it. Instead, when asked what Gene thought of the fans’ displeasure with the coach, he said “it doesn’t matter.”
Gene has essentially said “this is the way I want BC football to be; you fans can take it or leave it (but please donate either way).” All we got for our trouble was our athletic director’s second one-finger salute to the fans this season (the first one was when DeFilippo made that backhanded remark about Clemson fans being in their seats on time).
The “best coach” we’ve had in his tenure just went 4-8 and is 16-19 against FBS teams all-time. To our athletic director, however, this is not only improvement, but the “best coach” DeFilippo has ever had. We have just had our worst season since the 1990s, BC hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2007 season, and we have not been ranked since 2008, and yet, this is the “best coach” DeFilippo has ever had. We’ve had coaches in other athletics programs win multiple national championships and conference titles, and Spaz’s predecessor got us two ACC Atlantic winners, and yet, this is the “best coach” DeFilippo has ever had.
Boston College Athletics has helped build a narrative, accepted by the media at face value and with no critical thinking applied whatsoever, that there was no way we could win more than this many games because of our injury problems and youth. Of course, this discounts the preseason attrition we witnessed, the fact that our offensive decline is part of a long-term trend, and the absolutely awful in-game coaching demonstrated by Spaziani on a weekly basis, but such facts are rather inconvenient. For a team that has had turnover throughout the years and still found ways to get to and win bowl games, 4-8 is a major underachievement. Failure, however, has been rewarded.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that while Spaziani is a bad coach and must be fired, the root cause of the problem sits behind a desk. Tonight, I became of the opinion that Mr. DeFilippo must go as well. It’s one thing to retain a lousy coach, another to insult our intelligence with dramatic hyperbole regarding his “achievements” (I use the term loosely) following an 8-loss season, and another to intimate that the fans and alumni who have supported the program through thick and thin are irrelevant. I had been a supporter of his until recent years, but his comments tonight were over the top and inexcusable.
BC football is in a bad spot, and shy of wishful thinking, it may take a while for us to be back in contention. I guarantee that by August, some amongst us will be saying “there’s no WAY we won’t be better than last year” and will pencil us in for 8 or 9 wins and/or the ACC Atlantic crown. In 2010 and 2011, I said “there’s no WAY we won’t be better than last year,” but you know the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I’m not falling for it again. In reality, the bar has been set so low that Gene and Spaz could claim “improvement” with a 5-7 or 6-6 season next year. It is a sad commentary on the state of our program right now.
My policy, since my days supporting BC athletics on WZBC, is that we should support all of our teams. I have been very proud to back Eagles sports, and I will enjoy taking in basketball and perhaps hockey games in person this winter. I can’t recall a situation, however, where the fans have been opposed in such a manner before. In light of these extraordinary circumstances, I unfortunately cannot chide BC fans who have cancelled their Flynn Fund donations and/or season tickets. We fans can’t do much to shape opinion – evidently – but if BC fans choose not to spend their hard-earned money on endorsing failure, then they are well within their rights. It’s not even for us, but for the players, present and future, who deserve to win wearing the maroon and gold. They will not under the current regime.
Do not give up, Boston College fans, and don’t be silent. We, and our university, only lose when we tolerate failure and the lowering of standards.