The school announced on Tuesday afternoon that Brad Bates, current athletic director at Miami University in Ohio, will succeed Gene DeFilippo as Boston College’s AD. He has been athletics director for the Red Hawks since 2002.
Bates appeared as a walk-on for the Michigan Wolverines during his college football years, after which he became a graduate assistant at his alma mater and a strength coach at Colorado. Before heading to Oxford, Ohio, Bates spent 17 years at Vanderbilt as an assistant coach and athletics department figure.
Miami of Ohio has an FBS football program, but it is much better known for its hockey (and doubtlessly, Bates is familiar with Boston College and having lost to said school in the past). If anything can be said for Bates, he did play for and work with BCS-conference football programs.
Fans will doubtlessly want to learn more about his policies on gameday experience, ticket prices, donor seating, and much more, but for now, most only have one concern: the future of one Mr. Frank Spaziani.
The immutable truth is this: Spaziani is now going “on the clock.” It is nearly impossible to believe that Bates, or anyone else that could have been hired, will be impressed with the state of the BC football program. It is only natural for a new athletic director to want his or her own coaches, especially if the current one is doing a bad job. Frank Spaziani is doing a job that would have to get better just to be considered bad.
For his first task, it is clear what the fans want and the team needs: Bates must fire Spaziani; to delay well beyond the end of the season or neglect to do so entirely would risk him losing the confidence of the fans early in his tenure. He must also succeed with the replacement hire, or none of this was worth it.
At this point, as it pertains to Bates swinging the hammer on BC football, it is still not clear when that will happen. It had better happen during the calendar year of 2012, or else Bates is not the right man for this job. It is obvious to fans and football writers, however, that any new athletic director would have been tasked with the firing of Spaziani. Right now, Bates must understand that blowing the football program up, so to speak, and starting over with competent, respected coaches and little interference is his top priority. Regardless of personal feeling on the matter, the fans will gradually abandon a team that has the stench of death around it, which is what Spaziani instilled. Its negative impact on our school’s reputation is clear, as BC football is now the punch line of jokes.
Bates does not seem like the flashiest candidate, but it is up to all of us to give him a fair chance. If he proves not to be serious about fixing the program, however, then blame those who hired him. I don’t care about graduation rates right now — they will be fine around here under just about any athletic director. What matters is the future of this program: are we going to fix this mess or are we going to make a half-assed attempt and give up like Holy Cross? That is the crossroads in front of us, and Bates.
Bates’s task ahead is not easy, but with any luck, he is prepared to meet those challenges. Welcome to Boston College, Mr. Bates.