Thursday, November 29, 2012

BC Football Could Learn Something From SJU

Boston College’s football formula isn’t working. The program is coming off one of it’s worst seasons ever after finishing 2-10. They are clearly the weakest team  in an anemic ACC football conference and it felt like the only time the media talked about this program was when Coach Frank Spaziani was fired a few days ago. To put it bluntly, the defence and propagation of the fanhood and the progress of rebuilding this program is in jeopardy.

Photo from SI

While Coach Spaziani was an extremely loyal soldier during his 16 years working in Chestnut Hill, something didn’t work when he took over the head coaching reins in 2009. His staff was a bit of a mess. There were four offensive coordinators in three seasons. High profile recruits were few and far between. And these teams didn’t have any sort of identity. The historically stingy defense allowed nearly 30 points a game this season. Unfortunately for fans,, Matt Ryan will not be walking through that door

The Boston Globe’s Chris Gasper wrote that Eagles athletic department should accept the fact that “BC is a layover and not a final destination.” While hungry coaches looking to prove themselves can be beneficial for a program in rebuilding mode,, that doesn’t have to be Boston College. Chestnut Hill can be a destination. They just need stability and a vision.

The Heights should take a page from the Benedictines at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. (My undergraduate alma mater.) If the Benedictines know anything, it’s stability. The University made sure that all incoming students knew about the Benedictine Values, a sort of student code inspired by the Rule of St Benedict. These values emphasized community, hospitality, and respect, and dignity of work, among other things.

The St. John’s football program exemplified these values. John Gagliardi, the recently retired Johnnies football coach, was a man who created a football community that was no-nonsense and successful. Gagliardi described his philosophy as, ,"Ordinary guys, doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well.” During his coaching tenure, he accomplished some extraordinary things. He’s the all-time wins leader in college football history. Under Gagliardi’s leadership, the Johnnies went 465-132, won 25 conference titles and four national championships. Gagliardi retired last week after nearly 60 years on the job. That’s a man who knew how to build and run a program.

While the Benedictine monestary at Sain John’s had nothing to do with the operations of the university football program, it was clear that the Benedictines inspired Gagliardi. The coach helped make Johnnie football into an integral part of the community. He had a clear vision for the program. He wanted to win and to win in a no-nonsense way.

Collegeville (population 3,343) is a much different place than Boston. However, The Heights can learn something from the Gagliardi and the Benedictines. Plan for the long run. Don’t think your going to fix this program overnight. Build it through solid recruiting. Hire a coach who has a clear vision and can carry it out effectively.

BC Athletic director Brad Bates should look to the Rule of St. Benedict before he hires a new football coach. Boston College can be a great football program again. Bates and the rest of the athletic department just need to figure out a vision for this program. St. Benedict encourages followers to “Listen with the ear of your heart.” Bates should do the same.

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