Spaz Watch: Focusing on the Long-Term Rebuild



If I were a player on a football team, I’d probably forge relationships with players and coaches, assuming either group was amenable to doing so. It does not require inside knowledge to figure out that personal connections have grown within the Boston College football locker room. Yet with the 2012 season coming to a close, it seems all but certain that this will not be a typical offseason, and the coaching part of the family will be broken up.

Head Coach Frank Spaziani’s days are numbered, and after another horrific losing season, they should be. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, several Eagles players expressed their support for the coach. One cannot necessarily fault them for that, because he is their leader and some prefer familiarity as opposed to change, but the plain truth is that their appeals will not save Spaz.

The players are certainly entitled to an opinion. It would be arrogant and hypocritical for fans to dismiss theirs out of hand while we are often quite opinionated on the state of the football program, but this team is at a crossroads. In Rettig’s case, it is clear that he does not want a fifth offensive coordinator in four years. Unfortunately, he can blame the decision-makers of the team for that:

• Gary Tranquill was a bad hire in the first place, and one that some people regarded as only “temporary” (which is ridiculous)
• Kevin Rogers never got a fair chance, and the rumors of friction between him and Spaziani have not gone away
• Dave Brock was only seen as a stopgap
• Doug Martin boarded a sinking ship

It’s probably unavoidable that there would have been some turnover, but the head coach kept bringing in new guys. Now, it would seem the quarterback wants Spaziani to stay so that he can keep Doug Martin for another year and not have to learn a new system. One can definitely sympathize with him, as he probably feels like he is getting royally screwed in all of this.

I say this as someone who has been supportive of the players all year: at some point, this stops being about the individual guys on the team now and starts being about the long-term future of Boston College football. It’s not about the fans, and it’s bigger than the men on the roster and the coaches. This team, regardless of who chooses to admit it publicly or not, is in desperate need of a complete rebuild. Spaziani will not help lead the way: he is the reason the rebuild is needed. After four years, every facet of this disaster can be traced back to him. Delaying the restoration process by a year or more to spare some players the trouble of inconvenience will push back the timetable and only cause it to take longer. The program would suffer for such a grievous mistake years after they left BC.

What happens, in the unlikely event Spaziani returns, if players in 2013 call for him to return in 2014 for the same reasons of familiarity with a system? You could play this game each year, but every cycle must end. Spaziani’s time to go is now, despite protests to the contrary. We’re already looking at a couple years to fix this mess and there is no practical or logical reason to prevent the rebuild from beginning on November 25.

On the issue of Doug Martin, whom Rettig would probably like to see in 2013, the problem with retaining him is that he could become an unnecessary point of contention for coaching hires. Keeping Spaziani just to save Martin would be a catastrophic error that would deepen the ditch this program occupies. Compelling an otherwise solid head coaching hire to take Martin or else could cause BC to lose out on candidates. Ideally, Spaziani’s 2013 replacement will get carte blanche to build his own staff, and any assistants remaining will do so at his leisure, not because the players or Brad Bates said so. Putting conditions on a new hire is not optimal, and there is no way to know at this time if Bates would do so, anyway.

One would have to think Martin knew what he was getting himself into when he took the BC job. He joined a program with a coach very much on the hot seat, and they’re on the verge of their first 10-loss campaign in 34 years. With a new athletic director in place, it should have been obvious on August 17, the day Gene DeFilippo announced his retirement, that a bad season would sink them all. It has happened, and it is more likely than not that wholesale changes will take place. I would personally be shocked if anyone on the BC sideline or in the locker room has not reached that conclusion by now.

Those changes, if the right staff is put in place, will help this program get back to a respectable existence after a rebuild. It may cause inconvenience next season, but the players must be able to adapt and attempt to embrace change. There is more at stake, however, than the status of coaches. Our focus on the outside of BC football is saving this program. It is bigger than any one person wearing maroon and gold or a headset. If it means a new offensive system and some headaches in 2013 to make things nice and smooth in 2015 or 2016, not one of us outsiders would turn down that deal. If it means ripping up the coaching staff and inputting a completely new philosophy, complete with growing pains, then we will take that deal as well, provided it ends with BC getting back to relevance.

All of it would be for the best, because Boston College football needs to be fixed, now. No delays, no compromises, and no backtracking. It’s going to be a long road to repair this program, but it’s a journey we must begin immediately after the end of the 2012 season.