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Column: Bates Begins Search For Mr. Right

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


It’s the moment that Superfans have been waiting for—the Boston College football team has begun its rebuilding process. After four years with head coach Frank Spaziani at the helm, athletic director Brad Bates  will begin his search for a new leader. Spaziani’s contract termination comes after long cries from BC students, alumni, and fans, as well as a 21-29 overall record during his tenure.

While the BC faithful are ecstatic over the move to fire Spaziani, there is still an even lengthier task ahead for Bates: hiring a new head coach. Only in his position full-time for four weeks, Bates will seal his fate with the program with this hire. Sounds like a lot of pressure, but the man certainly seems to have a plan.

When asked about his criterion for hiring Spaziani’s heir, Bates gave a three-pronged approach to how he will analyze candidates.

“There’s three [factors]: One, we want someone who oozes with integrity,” he said. “Secondly we want someone who genuinely and sincerely cares about the students, particularly their intellectual development, and will engage in facilitating their maximum development as scholars, as athletes, as leaders, and as servers. And the third thing is that we want someone who is going to win.”

Ideally, as it has been pointed out, Bates is looking for the football coaching equivalent to Jerry York. This team needs a leader who can push his players to excel in all facets of their time at the University. He’s not going to just pick the coach he thinks will be the best at winning games right away, but rather the option that will best pursue the ideals of BC. 

There are a number of directions for Bates to take this team. He could look for an experienced coach from another program, someone who is in need of a change in scenery. Al Golden comes to mind as a potential option, due to his early ties to the Eagles, as well as a changing scene in the Miami athletic program. He may be the perfect candidate to ignite the players, and open up recruiting pools for the future.

A number of bigger-name coaches are looking for new jobs after tough seasons. Cue the Gene Chizik enthusiasts. While it would be a stretch to imagine that we could steal SEC caliber coaches from the country’s most competitive division, who is to say that someone like Danny Hope or our old friend Tom O’Brien might not see BC as an interesting option? Although I wouldn’t push for the latter option, the point is that we may find some higher-profile coaches to be interesting prospects for the rebuilding process of the program. Bates could look for coaches with experience, who understand the ins-and-outs of college football.

Another route would be to find an up-and-coming coordinator or coach from a smaller school. One possibility that has been thrown around is Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Diaco seems to know what it takes to coach at a high level, and could bring in some interesting recruits from players he’s seen come through South Bend. This last option would probably be more of a long term project, because the coach would have to adjust to recruiting and the full-time responsibilities of coaching in the ACC, however this may yield the best overall results for the program.

The biggest issue for Bates will be the number of universities with coaching vacancies this offseason. Auburn, Arkansas, North Carolina State, Purdue, Kentucky, and Tennessee are all competing for available head coaches. BC doesn’t necessarily stand out amongst these potential opportunities, but Bates sees his program as offering a very different environment for whoever signs on.

“There may be candidate competition, but I think you’ll see that BC is a very unique place, and the types of people that will be very attracted to this situation, because of it’s uniqueness, will stand out,” he said.

Regardless of whether or not he sees BC fishing from the same pool as these other big name programs, Bates made it clear that he will work tirelessly and efficiently in making the right selection for what he think will better the team.

“We’ll move as quickly as possible, but we will be very, very deliberate,” Bates said. “This is an incredibly significant hire, relative to the leadership and development of our program. We’ve got to make absolutely sure we get the right fit for what this program needs right now.”

While Bates has some big decisions to make in the near future, BC players are also excited to make their opinions known through the hiring process. Obviously players have their own expectation for what a new head coach should bring to the program, and Bates will certainly keep an open ear to their thoughts on the program’s direction.

For rising seniors, such as wideout Bobby Swigert, the hope is to find a coach that can bring a winning culture to the Heights immediately.

“The biggest thing is getting a guy who has that winning edge in his mindset,” he said. “There’s no way this guy is going to lose. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not numbers. It’s not stats or anything like that. It’s just the look in the guy’s eye. It’s something that’s inside of him that knows what it takes to win.”

Spaziani left behind one of the lowest points in the program’s history. Bates will need to find a prospective coach who can insert his system quickly without completely tearing the program down. This new coach will have a solid base of players who are eager to win, and willing to do anything to bring the Eagles back into contention.

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