All Hail Spaz!

Less than a week after Jeff Jagodzinski was fired by Boston College, long time defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani has been named as the new head football coach. Every new hire is met with a mixture of optimism and trepidation. Eagle Insider has reported on the story throughout and now we offer our opinion on the hire.

Anytime a college hires a new football coach, a couple of things are true. One is they are closing the book on one chapter of the program's history. The old coach is gone and it is time to move forward. Since most coaches quit or get fired, the end is rarely positive. A part of the process in getting a new guy is getting past the sins of the old guy, real or imaginary.

The other truth is the school enters into the search process with certain key qualifications in mind. Often, those qualifications are based in some part on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the previous coach. A gregarious fellow is followed by a tough guy, for example. If the previous coach ran a particular style, maybe the next guy will be asked to continue that offense, as another example.

In this case, Jagodzinski was only at BC for two years. His impact on the program and this hiring process was tiny, outside of the honestly issue. Even here, it was not much of an issue as Boston College will always set personal integrity as a high priority item. The fact that the last guy was lacking in this area is irrelevant to this search.

Once the search began in earnest, we pulled together a list of requirements based on what has been said by the folks at BC now and in the past searches.That list was posted here last week. The question now is whether Boston College hit the mark, in terms of job requirements. The bigger question is if Frank Spaziani can be the guy to keep the program in the upper echelon of the ACC.

The first thing that is clear is BC has hit a home run in terms of getting a coach that fits into the school philosophically. Coach Spaz has been at BC for ten years and he gets it. More important, he loves it. The BC way is not just a set of conditions under which he labors, it is something he embraces and promotes. A successful coach at Boston College has to embrace the culture and Spaziani is such a guy.

This is also true when it comes to the people skills departments. After ten years on campus, the coach has had plenty of time to make enemies, create divisions and so forth. If he were a guy incapable of playing nice with others, it would have come through long ago. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Coach Spaziani is well liked in the athletic department and throughout the BC community.

In terms of football, the number one priority was recruiting. The head coach has to be a closer at BC. The school sells itself, but a lot of kids need a little push. That's the job of the head coach. Spaziani has not been on the road as much of late, but he was always known as an excellent recruiter. He has often served as the closer in some tough cases. As head coach, there is little doubt he will continue in that role and do it well.

The questions that we have are in the areas of program management and public relations. The typical fan only focuses on the games and maybe on recruiting. Those are results. The real work is in the day-to-day management of the team and dealing with the many distractions that are a part of the head coach position. One of those is public relations, particularly fund raising and alumni maintenance. It is here that a program can succeed or fail.

We have no idea if Spaziani will be a good manager, attract and retain a talented staff and allow his staff and support personnel to do their job. As the defensive coordinator, coach Spaziani has been very good at allowing his coaches to do their job, yet maintaining an active role in the details of the defense. If he is able to replicate that balance as head coach, he will do well.

At this point, no one can know if he will be a good CEO. But, that is almost impossible to know about any assistant getting their first shot at the big office. Only an established coach with a long record of success can guarantee us he can and will be a good manager.

That leaves us with the spicy part of the job, public relations. Jagodzinski lacked most of the things you want in a coach, but he was a great pitchman. From the start, he had the fans excited and was always a great interview. His apparent optimism and sincerity made for a great sales pitch for the program. It also helped reticent alums write those important checks every program needs to fund their operations.

This is where the hire is a miss. Coach Spaziani is not a pitchman, nor is he a "hail fellow well met" type of guy. He is not a dullard like O'Brien, but he is not going to light up a room either. He is just an old school football coach. In tough times when fund raising is down, it would be nice if the new coach had a little more zip to his style.

In the end, however, BC was not going to find the perfect guy. The lesson to be learned from the previous coach is there are no perfect guys. It is that belief that can open the door for a conman. Coach Spaziani meets the important criteria for a BC coach and has the potential to be a very good recruiter and program manager. He may not be the most exciting guy in the world, but that does not show on the score board anyway.

Congratulations Frank Spaziani.

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