A JERSEY GUY: Why BC's Next FB Coach Must Have BC ties

Mark Blaudschun

Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond said all the right things on Monday in officially announcing that the Steve Addazio era at The Heights was over.

He talked about "retooling''' rather than "rebuilding''. He said that the goal was for a "Top 25 program.''

He said the search would be national and that he hoped to have the next Eagle' football coach hired by the middle of December.

He said that BC was a good job--and it is for a variety of reasons, which include the status of the program which Addazio had built in the past seven years as well as the dip in the quality of the Atlantic Coast Conference which has Clemson and 13 other teams who are not that far apart in talent.

What Jarmond did not say was that BC is vastly different from almost every other job in the group of Power 5 schools.

It's not the tough admission standards which consistently puts BC athletic teams in the Top 10 academically. Or the relatively modest athletic facilities--compared to other ACC schools. Or even the almost luke warm support BC athletics has in the pro dominated sports market.

What is essential for anyone who comes to BC and wants to succeed is that they understand the "culture'' of the place.

Former BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who had both great success and failures during his tenure, once gave an apt description of what that culture was like.

"BC is one of the toughest jobs,'' said DeFilippo, "because they want you to be Harvard from Monday thru Friday and Ohio State on Saturday.''

""BC is a different animal, '' said one former BC player who has kept in touch with the rise and fall of the program over the past 10 years. "When you talk about BC, you deal with the comparables, schools like Duke, Stanford, Virginia. How have they fared and what are they doing to make their programs succeed.''

Jarmond has learned this during his short two and a half year term as the Eagles' athletic director. He came to BC from Ohio State and a Big Ten atmosphere where the word "No'' is seldom uttered in the football offices.

At BC, it is often the first response. As one long time BC observer saidit, , only half kiddingly ""BC is the type of place where if you request 20 footballs, they will send you ten and ask you why you need the other 10.

Addazio was not fired because he did a bad job in rebuilding a program which needed reconstruction. He was fired because he didn't clear the hump which makes any program relevant--winning 8 games.

Addazio was at The Heights for seven seasons, compiling a 44-44 record, which had 5 seven win seasons, one six win season and one 3-9 disaster. He never went above .500 in ACC competition. There was no upward scale to indicate progress.

At some places such a record would have gotten Addazio fired three years ago. But at BC as long as the graduation rate was high, there were no major scandals involving the football program and the ACC money--now more than $30 million per year--was coming in, the BC administration, headed by Father William Leahy, was content, even with the core group of football fans asking for more than .500 records and trips to second tier bowl games.

Jarmond wants to change that. But he has to be careful because athletic director's reputations are often molded by who they hire and fire in football and basketball.

It will not be difficult to follow Jarmond's search path. He will start with connections he knows. That is why he had current Ohio State coach (and former BC assistant Ryan Day on his wish list last year when Addazio's job was being evaluated.

But Ohio State coach Urban Meyer retired and Day was elevated and no longer available. Jarmond didn't have an overwhelming favorite as a back up, so he did not make a move.

This year, the same issues about progress emerged and Jarmond had former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano in focus. Schiano and Jarmond worked together at Ohio State.

But the Rutgers job opened in September, Schiano, who was interested in BC could not afford to wait for a job which might not open. By the time, Jarmond made the decision to fire Addazio, Schiano had agreed to an astounding 8 year, $32 million deal, which was far more than the $2.6 million BC was paying Addazio and mor than BC was willing to pay for any football coach.

Which brings Jarmond and the Eagles back in the search mode again. More than a few sources say that the first choice is Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who played and coached at Ohio State before moving out of Colmbus.

It would be a great hire, but Fickell is pure Big Ten and reportedly has expressed an interest to stay in the area---Michigan State?--.

Whether Fickell will move out of his comfort zone remains a question.

But there is also another danger.

Fickell does not know the BC culture and that must be taken into consideration, which is why another Ohio State assistant coach, Al Washington, is also a strong candidate, and might be a better overall fit.

Fickell might quickly walk away after hearing what BC can't or won't do.

Washington grew up in Columbus, but he played at BC. He coached at BC. He is young-35--he has the enthusiasm and personality to sell what BC is offering.

Jarmond might be wise enough to go outside the box just a bit and go with youth and potential, which could mean keeping another former BC player, special teams coordinator Ricky Brown, who was a teammate of Washington's, on the Eagle staff.

There also remains the possibility that Washington will bring in a mentor type, such as Michgian defensive coordinator Don Brown back to BC. The two men worked together last season at Michigan and at BC as assistants on Addazio's staff.

Any of those combinations should be considered by Jarmon and could indeed to the next move BC makes.

It's not that big a jump, but what is unknown is if the person making the jump will fit into the fabric of a program which is more complicated than it looks.


Mark Blaudschun