In early October, I penned an article about new Boston College athletic director Brad Bates and the fans’ reaction to him executing his job. At that point, Bates had literally just been hired and almost certainly had no depth of knowledge about Eagles football in its current state. It is likely he was aware before his installment that things were bad and getting worse, but he was not intimately familiar with the situation as BC fans are.
Just a week later, I argued that Bates had seen enough to get a clear picture of the state of the football program. He did then, and he still does now. If anything, the case for Frank Spaziani’s dismissal is stronger than ever. I still did not fault Bates for waiting, even though I personally disagreed.
There is a growing sentiment amongst a segment of Eagles fans that Bates should have fired Spaziani already and that he is tarnishing his standing. I do understand why they’re saying it: our seniors are most likely going to go out on a 2-10 season, and these guys have nothing positive to which to aspire this year, aside from playing for their brothers in maroon and gold. Fans are in low spirits, but the team is probably in lower spirits. We’re tired of watching them lose, and they’re tired of losing. The team wants a boost, even if just for one last week to wrap up the year, and the fans want in the form of Spaziani being fired.
Had Spaziani been jettisoned after the Florida State disaster, nobody would have been happier than me. In fact, it has been my position that he did not “deserve” to coach this season, because I’m not sure how a guy who has never really won anything “deserves” another chance. Over the last four years, I cannot think of one signature moment this man has produced as head football coach. It is far easier to come up with a list of abysmal failures, many of which came in 2012. He was a poor hire in the first place, which can be blamed on Bates’ predecessor.
With that said, I ask all Eagles fans not to give up on Bates so soon. If what we are hearing is true, Bates already has a wish list of new coaches. I personally doubt he wrote it yesterday, either: Bates has probably spent weeks considering his next move.
Frank Spaziani will be fired, most likely next weekend or early in the following week. I believe Bates is a smart man and will make the right decision, and if he has (a) watched the same team I’ve watched and (b) done his due diligence, then he knows Spaziani is a drag on this program and must be cut loose. Were Bates to retain Spaziani, then he’d get plenty of justified criticism, most of which would be from me, but I don’t think it’s fair to doubt him right now. Besides, he indicated early on that he would let Spaziani coach out the season, and that’s what he’s done. I don’t think it was necessary, but Bates was in a defensible position for saying that and he kept his word. That does not mean for one second that he won’t fire Spaziani very quickly once the season is over, and I expect as much.
Other coaches in college football have already been fired. Just today, Tennessee fired Derek Dooley. The difference between this situation and those others is that their athletics directors haven’t been on the job for a month. The Vols’ AD, Dave Hart, was hired in September 2011, giving him essentially two full seasons to evaluate. Kathy Beauregard of Western Michigan, who fired Bill Cubit this weekend, was hired at about the same as Gene DeFilippo. Joker Phillips of Kentucky was fired by Mitch Barnhart, on the job since 2002. Bates has been athletic director for six football games. As easy as it might be to pile on him, I can’t. All I can do is operate under my firm belief that when the calendar turns to December, Spaziani will already be long gone.
There are potential legitimate reasons why Bates hasn’t fired Spaziani yet, outside of the fact that he said he wouldn’t before the season ended. The school could be trying to work out the contractual terms of his dismissal (related to his buyout) or there may be other things happening behind the scenes about which we don’t know. In either case, we can’t assume Bates is too timid to can Spaziani before the end of the season because we’re not involved in the Athletics and/or booster meetings and we don’t know what’s being said.
I would love to see this team close out on a win, sans Spaz. They deserve it. The season, however, is being written off as a total loss. We knew that’s what it was going to be over a month ago, so at this point, all we can do is look forward. Frank Spaziani is as good as gone, and folks should not doubt that. Brad Bates will be here for a while and we will surely have our disagreements, and that’s perfectly fine. At this time, there is one game remaining. Once it is over, Bates will fire Spaziani and all of this hand-wringing will be forgotten, enabling us to push ahead with the rebuilding process. I am more worried about the next hire than erasing the previous one, which will happen all in good time. Have faith.