101 Days of BC Football: Head Coach Frank Spaziani


There are two things that Boston College football fans have learned since 2009: loyalty is a great career advancement tool and that all good things must come to an end. Head football coach Frank Spaziani’s tenure at Boston College as the man in charge has definitively proven both to be true. As he enters his fourth season, he does so under the intense scrutiny of fans and national media who have placed him atop their “hot seat” lists.

A native of northern New Jersey, Spaziani was a defensive end in college for The Pennsylvania State University during much happier times in Happy Valley. His first coaching gig was under Joe Paterno (and Jerry Sandusky, unfortunately) as a defensive grad assistant while Paterno was still in his first decade and the latter just became defensive line coach. In 1970, he left his alma mater to pursue a Master’s Degree from Seton Hall while serving as a coach at Hempstead High School on Long Island and Raritan High in New Jersey.

Spaziani returned to the collegiate ranks in 1975 at Navy under coach George Welsh, himself a former Penn State assistant during Spaziani’s playing days. In 1982, Welsh took the job at Virginia and brought Spaz with him, eventually making him the defensive coordinator in 1985. He left Virginia after the 1990 season and following a year out of major football, Spaziani was hired as the defensive coordinator of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He spent five years north of the border before Tom O’Brien brought him to Boston College in 1997. In the first two of those seasons, he served as running backs coach, but became defensive coordinator in 1999.

Finally, after being passed over in late 2006 following Tom O’Brien’s departure, Spaziani won in his quest to become head coach, taking over for Jeff Jagodzinski in 2009. Since then, Boston College’s win total has declined annually, down to just four in 2011. The good thing that came to an end was BC’s bowl streak last year, snapped after a dozen winning seasons.

Most would probably agree that Frank Spaziani’s defenses were quite good when he coordinated them. They might not have always been the best in the country, but they earned him and his players respect. The unfortunate thing is that his track record as head coach is taking a blowtorch to his legacy. Fond memories of better days with him coaching the defense have been replaced by recent lousy seasons and a program that is no longer in the top half of the ACC.

With the coming change in athletic directors, chances are that Frank Spaziani is on his way out, one way or another. I have long advocated for his departure, but at the same time, I want him to succeed this year. Not for his own sake, but for our seniors and everyone else putting on the uniform. I have a greater sense of long-term optimism for this program now, so Spaz can have his happy ending in 2012. If he doesn’t, well, it probably won’t make a difference anyway.