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Column: What Are The Consequences Of Spaz?

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, December 4, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

For all Superfans who blamed the players during the NBA lockout, it turns out that you have a lot more in common with them than you think. No, it's not a 40-inch vertical, and no, it's not backstage access to the Watch the Throne Tour. Put yourself in the position of the players and you'll realize that we, as Superfans, have our very own David Stern (Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo), our own hard-line owner (football coach Frank Spaziani), and our own "nuclear winter" going on right now. Up until a week ago, when the possibility of an NBA season looked bleak, this analogy worked really well. Now that a deal has been reached and basketball is back on, it becomes less of an analogy and more of an example for how this problem can best be solved.

First things first, let me explain the metaphor. Stern runs the show in the NBA the same way that DeFilippo runs the show here when it comes to athletics and, more specifically, the football program. Stern did not start the NBA lockout, the owners did. He just supported them. DeFilippo has not caused the decline in the football program over the past three years, Spaziani has. And now DeFilippo is supporting him.

The NBA owners were straight up wrong during negotiations with the players. Their demands were both unfair and unheard of in major professional sports. Demanding a restructuring of the league's system to go along with taking 7 percent of the player's income was strictly an unnecessary power move. Spaziani is wrong when he blames the 4-8 record on injuries and youth. This team had enough talent to make a bowl game. All year long we have seen the coaching staff hold them back.

For a majority of the NBA lockout Stern stood by his owners. He showed up at press conferences with a smug look on his face and spoke about how the players were misguided and unreasonable. DeFilippo is also standing by his man and talking down to Boston College fans calling for Spaz's job.

"It doesn't matter," DeFilippo told The Boston Herald. "They're not here every day. They're not here all the time. Spaz and I work 24/7 and they just have to trust us and understand that this program is headed in the right way."

For proof that the program is not heading in the right direction, check out the blog BC Interruption. They have been beautifully outlining how false that statement is.

DeFilippo claims that Spaz sparked a successful end of the season run, but The New York Times' Paul Myerberg summed it up better by calling the first half of the season "an utter disaster" and the second half of the season "slightly less of a disaster. Not a success: less of a disaster. I guess that's still improvement, based on the meaning of the word."

More importantly though is the part of DeFilippo's quote where he says Superfans don't understand. Trust me, they understand just like the NBA players understood the owners' unfairness.

All I've heard around campus lately is how much of a joke the football team has turned into under Spaziani, and not at the fault of the players. Conservative play calling is criticized far more than Chase Rettig's arm. Football players have voiced their frustration on Twitter. High school seniors looking for a good academic school with a competitive football program to support are going to turn away from BC and instead look at schools like Vanderbilt.

"We failed you," Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Student Athletics David Williams said after an awful 2-10 season last year before hiring James Franklin, who has started turning that program around this season. "You're better than 2-10. No matter what anyone else thinks, Vanderbilt is better than 2-10. We've got to go find you a coach."

Those words are all it will take for DeFilippo to fix this. It took the NBA players a disbanding of their union and the threat of brutal litigation for Stern to give in and convince his owners they couldn't make the deal so unfair. Stern recognized that apathy for the league was growing along with a likely loss in revenue from season ticket holders and TV contracts. Inevitably, fewer nationally televised games for BC, smaller donations to the Flynn Fund, and worse season ticket sales should be enough of a message to DeFilippo that a change needs to happen. Maybe it's a new, exciting offensive coordinator. Maybe it's a new head coach. But settling for what we have and vocally commending it can't continue. We, as Superfans, cannot allow it.


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