It's not even September yet, but the Boston College Eagles football program has already managed to embarrass itself and demonstrate the degree to which the program has dissipated in the last few years. In the last week, while everyone was still in the process of consoling themselves over the Patriots having lost the Super Bowl in excruciating fashion, there was a sudden exodus of members of the coaching staff under Spaziani.
The first domino to fall was last years interim offensive coordinator Dave Brock. Despite doing an admirable job under the circumstances last season, Brock was demoted to special teams coach following the hire of the grossly unqualified Doug Martin to run the offensive show (more on that another time). Rather than accept this slap in the face, Brock managed to find an offensive coordinator job with Rutgers.
Not long after that, Ben Sirmans, the running backs coach on the Heights followed Brock to lovely Piscataway to take the same position. Later that afternoon it was Ryan Day, the former wide receivers coach and supposed heir apparent to the offensive coordinator throne, who planned his escape. Day is moving to Temple to take an offensive coordinator job under Steve Addazio.
The mass exodus of staff members just after signing day was explained away by some as Spaz attempting to clean house in an effort to show that he is genuinely trying to move the program forward following the continued downtrend in success both in victories on the field and generated revenue since he took over as coach. A look at the reality of the situation indicates otherwise.
As well respected BC blogger Bill Maloney accurately surmised, the idea that Spaz would fire key position coaches long after acceptable replacements could be found is borderline idiotic. Not only that, but a quick check of the calendar shows that spring practice begins in just a few days (February 18). Under normal circumstances spring practice is supposed to be an opportunity for players to build on what they accomplished in the previous season, but now it will be more like the first day of school. Players will have to build relationships with the new coaches, get accustomed to new methods of coaching and, yet again, learn an entirely new playbook.
The truth behind why these coaches decided to jump ship is simple: self preservation.
Spaz survived the dreadful 2011 football season largely due to the general disinterest of the majority of people in the region. The folks that were paying attention and asking questions about the program were treated to a laundry list of excuses as to why the team underperformed (youth, injuries, acts of god, etc). Backed by an AD in Gene DeFilippo who spent more time deflecting criticism away from his longtime friend by bizarrely belittling his paying customers by telling them their opinions don't matter rather than looking at the results on the field and in the stands, there was seemingly no scenario in which Spaz would lose his job. This despite putting forth the worst season in decades at BC.
With an entirely new coaching staff, a marginal recruiting class generally regarded as either the worst or second worst in the conference, and the loss of the one man (Luke Kuechly) who held the otherwise average defense together and compensated for the general awful-ness of the BC offense to the NFL, the future does not look particularly bright for Boston College this upcoming season. If the results are similar to what we saw last year, DeFilippo will no longer be able to deflect away from the porous product that he is trying to shovel down our throats. Make no mistake, if Spaz goes down, everyone that is on his staff goes down as well.
Rather than go down with the sinking ship in Chestnut Hill, Brock, Day, and Sirmans eschewed the loyalty edict that DeFilippo so loves to ramble about and grabbed the first lifeboat that presented itself. They're still relatively young, have good credibility within coaching circles, and used that to their advantage.
Good for them.
Loyalty is a funny thing though. Does it make sense to go down with S.S. Spaziani if it means the potential end of your career at a BCS level school? Or is it smarter to recognize the danger in forever having to associate yourself with what will undoubtedly go down as the biggest football coaching disaster at Boston College since Dan Henning replaced Tom Coughlin in 1994 and hop off the ship? DeFilippo has apparently chosen the former and has burned his previously spotless reputation to the ground in the process. Brock, Day, and Sirmans decided discretion was the better part of valor and exited stage right.
As expected, the men chosen to replace these three were people that had little to no experience as position coaches with major conference programs. Sean Desai takes over on the special teams, Aaron Smith will handle the wide receivers, and former Eagle Al Washington will join the staff as an assistant. All are in similar positions as new offensive coordinator Doug Martin in that they are undoubtedly well aware that this may only be a one shot deal, but the benefit of being on the staff at an ACC school at this early stage of their careers was too tempting to pass up.
The season is obviously still months away at this point, meaning anything could happen, but the pseudo-fire drill among staff members at Boston College is not a good sign for the future prospects of the program. Faced with the choice between being on the staff at an ACC school and working for Frank Spaziani and Gene DeFilippo or taking jobs at schools in bad conferences (Big East) or mid-major conferences (MAC), three members of the staff chose the latter. I think that says it all.