FOOTBALL: Voicing Their Support
With Spaziani's Fate Set To Be Decided Soon, Players Back Their Coach
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Saturday’s game at North Carolina State could be Frank Spaziani’s last as head coach of the Boston College football team. But if his players had any say in the matter, it might not be.
In his four years as head coach in Chestnut Hill, Spaziani has compiled an overall record of 21-28. The Eagles have just six wins over the past 23 games, and during that stretch, they haven’t been able to string together two consecutive wins at any point. Regardless of those stats, the players said that some of the blame could be placed on other factors, and not Spaziani.
“We’ve talked about this hundreds of times among the older guys,” senior tackle Emmett Cleary said regarding what went wrong in the past two seasons. “I think a lot of these games were lost three or four years ago when my signing class, which was I think 36 including walks-ons—there’s nine of us left. So, it’s hard to win when you don’t have experienced players and experienced depth. We’ve had a lot of young players playing and they’ve really played their asses off these past couple of years, but I think you’d prefer to have those guys redshirt and have experienced backups when injuries and losses happen.”
Despite their 2-9 record with one final game left in the challenging season, Spaziani’s players voiced their support for their coach on Tuesday, saying that the talk of him on the hot seat may be overblown.
“I think social networking is terrible for head coaches these days,” said quarterback Chase Rettig. “When coaches got an opportunity back in the day, they had a bunch of time in order to establish themselves. Now, with our day of social media and everyone being able to know everything, all this information really fast, it seems like coaches have a year to do something great, and if they don’t, it’s on to the next person.”
Cleary talked about how BC was winning when his class showed up, as the Eagles were playing in the ACC Championship his freshman year. Yet this immediate success may have made some of his classmates complacent, Cleary said.
“I think a lot of guys from our class didn’t immediately understand what it took to get there, and expected to play right away, expected that it would be easy, in a way,” Cleary said. “Guys who maybe weren’t playing a lot their second year or weren’t starting by their third year took that as either a shot at their self-confidence or just that they somehow weren’t being treated fairly.
“When you look at the teams that have been good here—like Jamie Silva didn’t see the field until his fourth year in the program. For us to be good, guys need to marinate a little bit, and I guess my class didn’t buy it and so they all took off, and this is what you get.”
On the offensive line, where Cleary plays, he noted that he is the only lineman left of the six that he came into BC with in his recruiting class.
“That would have more effect than changing a coach,” Cleary said about the attrition. “Honestly, it's on us for letting our class fall apart. At the time a lot of this was happening, we didn't know any better."
Rettig has seen the impact that a shortage of seniors and fifth-years has had on the team, but said he was looking forward to next season, when he will be a senior along with his class, which hasn’t lost a player yet.
“We should have had older guys the last two years, even this year,” Rettig said. “A lot of guys have left. That could obviously play a role in something, but just having older guys is good to have in the locker room. Starting next season, my class will be—no one has left in my class, and so we’ll have a full team and that will help us out a lot.
For his part, Rettig said he wants Spaziani back next year, but that ultimately, it wouldn’t be up to the players. Senior captain Jim Noel said he’d throw his support behind having Spaziani back as head coach next year, as did Cleary.
“It’s been bad this year, but you have to believe in the process more than you believe in the results you’re seeing,” Cleary said. “And so yes, I think a lot of this isn’t Coach’s fault. I just hope he has his job in the season opener next year.”
While the players said they have heard the outside criticism of Spaziani, they won’t let any of that seep into the locker room.
“That’s not tolerated,” Cleary said. “We’re so immersed in even the next 20 minutes that you can’t think about something like that. We all hear it, but we’re all behind Spaz.”
“You can’t allow any of that to happen in the locker room,” Rettig said. “We fully support him and we’ve been behind him in the locker room. As much as there has been a whole bunch of stuff, we haven’t looked at that stuff.”
A coaching change might be the last thing Rettig wants, as he has had to go through a lot of transitions during his time on the Heights. A new head coach often means a new staff—and a new offensive coordinator. Rettig is currently playing for his fourth offensive coordinator in three years, and is now thriving in Doug Martin’s system, which he said he has enjoyed most of the four.