ACC: Brad Bates

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
This has turned into a heart-breaking week. R.I.P Richard Durrett.

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- The dysfunction that greeted the ACC during its spring meetings over the past several years was replaced with an odd feeling this time around, a sense that even commissioner John Swofford noticed as he looked across the room.


All 15 schools represented in these meetings are league members moving forward, giving the ACC added momentum as it heads into a new era in college football. Perhaps that is why it was so easy to come to a scheduling decision that had been years in the making. There are no more doubts, no more questions about where this league is headed.

Aside from the lingering question about legislation to change how conference championship games are governed, this league has set its course into the future, a course it believes will allow its teams to thrive and contend for national championships.

SwoffordWe have a lot of momentum from a league standpoint and specifically a football standpoint. It makes a world of difference to win a national championship, but along with that to have Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. ... The national championship was terrific, but that additional win over Ohio State really complements the national championship aspect of it, and having 11 bowl teams.

-- ACC commissioner John Swofford
That course means staying with eight league games, but adding a requirement that all schools must play at least one power-five opponent per season. That course meant minimal discussion on changes to divisions in order to see how the current scheduling model plays out. That course meant focusing on the future, and building off the football success the ACC had a year ago.

Indeed, the league went into these meetings facing all these critical decisions. There almost seemed to be a requiem for change, with the College Football Playoff coming, strength of schedule taking on greater importance and general unease about cross-divisional scheduling. The ACC could have radically changed. Instead, it opted to stay the course.

Who can blame the league, really? What the ACC did last season worked, as Florida State won a national championship and Clemson made the Discover Orange Bowl. A five-game scheduling partnership with Notre Dame will only enhance schedules in the ACC. There was no real need to change.

Not yet, anyway.

“We have a lot of momentum from a league standpoint and specifically a football standpoint,” Swofford said Thursday as the spring meetings wrapped up. “It makes a world of difference to win a national championship, but along with that to have Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. We spent some years not doing well in the BCS and we finished with three straight wins in our BCS games. The national championship was terrific, but that additional win over Ohio State really complements the national championship aspect of it, and having 11 bowl teams.”

Now comes the wait-and-see approach on multiple fronts. The ACC and Big 12 have submitted legislation to the NCAA, asking that leagues with 12 teams and two divisions no longer be required to hold conference championship games. An answer is expected in August, and Swofford believes the legislation will pass.

But that does not necessarily mean the ACC will change its championship game setup. Views are mixed among athletic directors on whether the current division champion model should be kept in place, or whether divisions should be scrapped entirely to create opportunities to play league opponents more frequently and have its two best teams play for the league title.

“I don’t think people should necessarily interpret our pushing this forward to mean we’d definitely change what we’re doing but it would give us the flexibility to,” Swofford said. “If that occurs, we’ll have a thorough discussion about it.”

So why push forward legislation at all?

“As much as anything, it’s the principle of the thing,” Swofford said. “We feel conferences should have the freedom to make that decision.”

The league also must take a wait-and-see approach on how the College Football Playoff committee ends up evaluating the strength-of-schedule component. Will eight league games plus one nonconference game against a power-five team be viewed as challenging enough when it comes time to selecting the top four teams?

“That remains to be seen,” Boston College athletic director Brad Bates said. “We’re entering in the first year of the playoffs and we’ll see what is rewarded ultimately on the back end of it, and I think that’s going to shape people’s philosophy on how they approach scheduling in the future.”

The ACC may very well change somewhere down the line. But for now, going with what is known is the best philosophy to have. Normal probably never felt so good.

The ACC opens its spring meetings today with critical decisions to be made about its future. And we are not just talking about scheduling.

Divisional structure, potential changes to the championship game and more discussion about a possible ACC Network are all on the table as league athletic directors, coaches and administrators gather in Amelia Island, Florida, for the next four days.

Each topic is carefully interlaced and fraught with its own complicated issues. No decision about one can be made without impacting another. Just as an example: Any new information on a possible ACC Network could end up determining whether the league stays with an eight-game or moves to a nine-game conference schedule. Then that decision could ultimately determine what the ACC does with its division and championship game format.

“It’s like dumping out a Lego set and trying to piece it all together and do it right,” Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said. “And it’s not as simple as red goes with red, yellow goes with yellow. It’s a little more complex. But all these things are such good, challenging things to look at. It’s exciting, the discussions are really exciting right now because there are so many creative things that can happen out of all this.”

[+] EnlargeAtlantic Coast Conference logo
Rich Barnes/CSM/AP ImagesThe Atlantic Coast Conference begins spring meetings on Monday that will last through Thursday.
As it stands today, there is no clear consensus among athletic directors on what will best position the league moving forward into the College Football Playoff era. Because of that, nobody inside the league knows whether a vote on future scheduling will even happen when the meetings conclude Thursday. Considering the ACC is the last conference to determine what its future conference schedule will be, what happens here will be watched much more closely.

While there does seem to be more movement toward a nine-game schedule among the athletic directors than there was last year, the league does not yet have a simple majority in favor of adding another conference game.

There also is very little traction for changing the division format or championship game setup -- even though the ACC petitioned the NCAA to be granted the flexibility to determine its title game participants.

In interviews conducted with all 14 athletic directors leading up to the meetings, none were in favor of rearranging divisions. Nine were opposed to getting rid of divisions entirely, four remain undecided and one had no preference. Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, in the undecided camp, wants an answer on league scheduling before moving forward to the division and championship game discussion.

He agrees, however, with the decision to petition the NCAA to change title game legislation.

“Depending upon where the conversation goes with the eight versus nine games, I think that the lineup, whether it is 1-14, whether it’s two seven-team divisions, whether the divisions are the same as they currently are, I think will be a totally separate discussion,” Radakovich said. “But first, we have to make that other decision on the eight or nine games.”

Getting rid of divisions altogether would relieve some of the headaches that go along with the current eight-game scheduling model, which features only one rotating crossover opponent. That has drawn criticism from both coaches and athletic directors who do not want to go as long as eight years between games against conference opponents.

Without divisions, teams could rotate through a cycle that would allow student-athletes to play every conference team at least once in their careers. But it could also mean getting rid of permanent crossover rivalries like Miami-Florida State, North Carolina-NC State and Duke-Wake Forest. And it could also mean chaos when it comes to determining who will play in the championship game.

[+] EnlargeMike Bobinski
AP Photo/David TulisGeorgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski is satisfied with the current division setup in the ACC.
“You open up Pandora’s box,” Miami athletic director Blake James said. “At the end of the day you have two divisions that have shown over nine years they’re very equitable. The Atlantic has won five, the Coastal has won four. That’s the best way to determine who’s in the championship game.”

Only two athletic directors are in favor of the top two teams in the league playing in the title game, while five remain undecided on the format. If the goal of the pending NCAA legislation is ultimately for the ACC to try to get its two top teams in the championship game to improve its stature and bump up strength of schedule, there are perils that go along with that, too.

“What’s the best way to make sure we have a team in that four-team playoff?” Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “Obviously, multiple teams would be awesome, but if you really want them playing each other in that last week of the season, I’m not sure that’s the best setup for having teams advance into that playoff. It’s served us reasonably well.

“I would tell you that I’m OK with the flexibility and the possibility to rethink it in different ways, but I’m not sold sitting here today that we need to do it differently.”

Over the past several months, the ACC has sent so many scheduling and championship game models to athletic directors to study, there are literally too many to count. Newer athletic directors like Brad Bates at Boston College and Whit Babcock at Virginia Tech remain undecided about what is best not only for their programs but the ACC in general.

Therein lies some more of the complexities. How do all these athletic directors put aside self interests to vote for what is in the best interest of the league?

“You can make compelling arguments for a lot of different models,” Bates said. “Different institutions are going to look at the different models in ways that best impact each of us selfishly, but at the same time, we have to look at everything holistically and see how it best impacts the league. And I think that’s probably where the discussion rests right now.”

More discussion will follow over the next few days. But will it be enough to change minds?

“It’s not a real simple solution,” Babcock said. “That’s why there wasn’t anywhere near a unanimous thought process during our winter meetings, so it got pushed off. I’m not sure it will be any easier to solve in May than it was in January.”
You better believe that Steve Addazio has pointed to the recent champion in his backyard as an example for Boston College. The Red Sox embraced everything the Eagles coach has been preaching to his own players, from the minimal personnel turnover to the internal soul-searching to, ultimately, a rapid rise back to the top.

"To me that's a team a year ago that wasn't headed in the right direction," Addazio told "Now, one year later, they win the World Series. It's because they became a team, and they brought the best out of each other and there was great chemistry and there was unselfishness. And here, I want to have that kind of team."

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesSteve Addazio has Boston College inching closer to a bowl bid and has a signature win over Virginia Tech.
Save for maybe Gus Malzahn's work at Auburn, Addazio's reclamation project in Chestnut Hill has been as big of a surprise as any among new regimes. Boston College enters Saturday's game at New Mexico State with a 4-4 record, having already won twice as many games as it did last season.

Addazio made waves across the Northeast this summer, accumulating commitments from a number of elite-level prospects and restoring some promise to a program that had fallen on dark times. But there was still the whole matter of this year's team.

That same outfit that won six total games the last two years? It still had Andre Williams, who might set the school single-season rushing record over these final four (or five) games. It still had Alex Amidon, on the verge of setting a number of program receiving marks. It still had Kasim Edebali, who leads one of the league's best pass-rushing attacks.

All this, and everyone is supposed to get excited about close calls against Florida State and Clemson?

"When we traveled down to UNC I was real concerned," Addazio said of his team's loss two weeks ago at then-one-win North Carolina, adding "Before you know it, it's just human nature to start thinking to yourself, 'Well, we're doing pretty good.'

"Well, last time I checked, football's measured off of wins and losses.”

Nothing he is preaching can be considered innovative for rebuilding programs. It's just that players rarely buy in so soon, and results generally don't show until two or three years down the road.

"He genuinely cares about the students," athletics director Brad Bates said. "I'll give you a really good example. We had a handful of students at the end of last year, shortly after we hired him, who had season-ending surgeries. He's in their hospital rooms, he's calling their parents, he's making sure that their academics are being worked out so that professors are aware that the students are going to be there. … He can be incredibly demanding on [the players] on and off the field because there's that sincerity in what he does."

Addazio called it a simple deal, one he has lived by since his days as a prep coach two decades ago: Coach 'em hard, love 'em hard.

Williams, the ACC's leading rusher, admitted to being taken aback by the barrel-chested, deep-voiced newcomer who was seemingly sticking his nose into everyone's business. But the new coach's intentions became increasingly clear.

"I saw it as a positive, because we were coming from a program that just didn't really have a lot of energy, that didn't really have a lot of pizzazz," Williams said. "I just thought that it was fresh and exciting to see somebody that was willing to get up and raise their voice. I just loved it."

Amidon, 53 yards shy of becoming the program's all-time leading receiver, was struck by Addazio's enthusiasm upon meeting him. Still, Amidon wondered how long it would last.

"But every day," he said, "he gets more and more energetic. He comes into practice every single morning, and I don't know how he does it every morning, more energetic than the day before."

It was evident on the recruiting trail as well. Addazio generated buzz among recruits with the Eagles' #beadude Twitter movement and has hauled in 23 prospects for the 2014 class, more than all but two ACC teams so far.

"It's somewhat surprising in one way, yes," Bates said of the decidedly old school Addazio immersing himself in social media. "… Once he discovers that that is a mechanism by which the students communicate, then he studied it very, very deeply and really looked at it as a way of communicating with these students and using it as a vehicle to get to know them and develop relationships."

Recruits saw the efforts firsthand Saturday when Boston College recorded a signature win over Virginia Tech. The validation was nice for a group that had done everything asked of it, he said, but there is little time to feel good about it.

Addazio knows that, in the grand scheme of things, a footprint is being established. But the program he is running right now remains an all-hands on-deck operation, with every week serving as a "monumental challenge."

"I equate it to like you push the rock up the hill and it comes back a little, and then you re-push it back up a little further and it comes back a little," Addazio said. "And you just keep pushing and pushing and pushing and you know there's no doubt in your mind that you'll get the rock over the top.

"But for me to sit here and say that there's not going to be more peaks and valleys along the way as we're working at putting this thing back together, I know there will be. And as wonderful as Saturday was, here we are. We're right back at it."

BC cancels spring football game

April, 19, 2013
Boston College has cancelled its spring football game Saturday because of events unfolding related to the Boston Marathon attacks, the school announced Friday afternoon.

Athletic director Brad Bates issued this statement:
“After consulting with campus, city and law enforcement officials, including the Boston College Police Department, we have decided to cancel all home athletics events scheduled for Saturday, including the spring football game. Our first priority is ensuring the safety of our student-athletes, coaches and spectators. Our local law enforcement community has done a phenomenal job this past week, and we do not want our events to serve as a distraction.

"Furthermore, now is a time for reflection to honor those who have been tragically killed and injured this past week and to allow our community to heal. The entire Boston College family stands with those who have been affected by this week's events. Together we will persevere and emerge stronger and more unified than ever."

Boston College was set to wrap up its first spring under new coach Steve Addazio.
Head coaching salaries have been on the rise for years. So have assistant coach salaries, sparking a further separation between the programs that can pay and the programs that cannot.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that athletic directors have seen their salaries grow as well.

USA Today, which annually compiles head coaching salaries, recently found FBS athletic directors make an average of $515,000. That is an increase of more than 14 percent since USA Today last reported on AD salaries in 2011.

The ACC beats that average. Of the available salaries compiled by USA Today, ACC athletic directors were set to make an average of $602,829 in 2013. All but two made more than $500,000 -- Kevin Anderson at Maryland ($499,490), and Randy Spetman at Florida State ($350,00).

That doesn't count incoming Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who makes a cool $1.4 million -- the highest paid athletic director at a public school. Only nine athletic directors make $1 million or more. The next highest paid public school AD is Dan Radakovich at Clemson, checking in at $725,000.

Boston College and Miami, two private schools, did not disclose figures.

While Spetman's salary has remained the same for the past several years, it still surprises me that the athletic director at one of the most high-profile football programs in the nation is the lowest paid in his league. And one of the lowest paid in the entire state of Florida. Florida AD Jeremy Foley makes more than $1 million; USF AD Doug Woolard makes nearly $500,000; Todd Stansbury at UCF makes just a smidge more ($375,000); and FIU AD Pete Garcia makes $441,832.

I know Spetman has faced his share of criticism, and the Noles have fought through some financial problems. They do pay Jimbo Fisher $2.75 million -- the highest paid coach in the ACC. But something seems off when the ADs at FIU, UCF and USF make more than the guy at Florida State.

Here are is the complete list of AD salaries in the ACC, thanks to USA Today.
  • Tom Jurich, Louisville: $1.4 million*
  • Kevin White, Duke, $906,536
  • Dan Radakovich, Clemson: $725,000
  • Ron Wellman, Wake Forest: $688,000
  • Mike Bobinski, Georgia Tech: $625,000
  • Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech: $621,529
  • Steve Pederson, Pitt: $596,595
  • Craig Littlepage, Virginia: $586,750
  • Daryl Gross, Syracuse: $570,057
  • Bubba Cunningham, North Carolina: $565,000
  • Debbie Yow, NC State: $500,000
  • Kevin Anderson, Maryland: $499,490**
  • Randy Spetman, Florida State: $350,000
  • Brad Bates, Boston College: NA
  • Blake James, Miami: NA

*Louisville expected to join ACC in 2014

** Maryland will depart ACC in 2014

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 19, 2012
Gingerbread cookies.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 5, 2012
Is this it for coaching changes in the ACC?
The ACC, historically one of college football’s most inconsistent leagues, had stability at the top from the preseason through the postseason, with Florida State and Clemson holding onto a firm grasp of the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the power ranking, respectively. That hasn’t changed as we head into bowl season.

With the regular season and the championship game officially behind us, here is how the ACC stacks up heading into the new year:

1. Florida State (11-2, 7-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Seminoles won their first ACC title since 2005 with a 21-15 win over Georgia Tech. It was a disciplined defensive performance against the nation’s No. 3 rushing offense, and the Noles will represent the ACC against Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl.

2. Clemson (10-2, 7-1; LW: No. 2) -- After finishing the regular season with a loss to rival South Carolina, Clemson has a chance to redeem itself against the SEC against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson has won seven of its past eight games and could win an 11th game for the fourth time in school history.

3. Miami (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 3) -- The Canes will be home for the holidays after their second straight self-imposed postseason ban, but the success this season was something to build on for next year. Running back Duke Johnson was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year.

4. Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3; LW: No. 4) -- The Yellow Jackets had a chance to upset the Noles in the ACC title game, but an interception with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter ended any hopes of it. Georgia Tech needed a waiver from the NCAA to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, where it will face USC.

5. North Carolina (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 5) -- It was a successful first season for coach Larry Fedora; now it is a waiting game to see if star running back Giovani Bernard will leave school early to enter the NFL draft, and if there is any substance to the coaching rumors surrounding Tennessee’s interest in Fedora.

6. Duke (6-6, 3-5; LW: No. 6) -- The Blue Devils will face Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl as Duke returns to the postseason for the first time since 1994. David Cutcliffe was named the ACC Coach of the Year. Duke is making its ninth bowl trip and has a 3-5 record in postseason games. The Belk Bowl will be the program’s first appearance in a bowl game in North Carolina.

7. NC State (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 7) -- Athletic director Debbie Yow didn’t waste any time hiring Dave Doeren from MAC champion Northern Illinois. Instead of coaching in the Discover Orange Bowl against FSU with his old team, Doeren immediately began working for NC State, which will play Vanderbilt (8-4) in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach the Pack in the bowl game.

8. Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 8) -- After going 0-2 against the Big East during the regular season with losses to Pitt and Cincinnati, the Hokies will have a chance to redeem themselves against Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

9. Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5; LW: No. 10) -- The Deacs’ main priority now is recruiting, as it was another trying season for coach Jim Grobe and his staff. Wake Forest ended the season with three straight losses.

10. Virginia (4-8, 2-6; LW: No. 9) -- Coach Mike London made sweeping changes following a disappointing season, firing four of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Jim Reid. It’s likely the next coordinator will have a different, more aggressive defensive philosophy and scheme.

11. Maryland (4-8, 2-6; LW: No. 11) -- Anything and everything Maryland did this year on the field was overshadowed by its intent to join the Big Ten for the 2014 season. The ACC announced its intent to sue Maryland in order to force the university to pay the $50 million exit fee in full. As Randy Edsall and his staff recruits this offseason, they will do so looking for athletes to compete in the Big Ten.

12. Boston College (2-10, 1-7; LW: No. 12) -- Coach Frank Spaziani was fired, and first-year BC athletic director Brad Bates hired Temple coach Steve Addazio.

Boston College nails Addazio hire

December, 4, 2012

You want passion, Boston College?

You got it.

You want unending stores of energy, Boston College?

You got it.

You want a well-respected and heavily connected recruiter in the Northeast, Boston College?

You got it.

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Howard Smith/US PresswireSteve Addazio brings energy to a slumping Boston College program.
New BC athletic director Brad Bates nailed his hire of Steve Addazio on Tuesday, giving a football program in major need of revitalization a major jolt. Addazio is a barrel through the wall at 100 miles per hour kinda guy, and, well, that is exactly what the Eagles need if they want to restore their winning tradition.

Nobody needs to be reminded of how far this program has fallen in recent years. Going 2-10 at a school that played for an ACC title just five years ago is simply unacceptable, and everybody knows it. Boston College has had its share of winning seasons in recent years -- having gone to 12 straight bowl games between 1999-2010. This recent dip is an anomaly, not the norm.

Consider that BC only had five losing seasons dating back to its first year in a conference, 1991, until this recent two-year stretch.

The right coach can win at Boston College. Addazio is the right coach. He is from Connecticut, and coached high school football in Connecticut. He went to college in Connecticut. He coached at Syracuse. His ties to New England are extensive, and date back 28 years. When he was hired at Temple two short years ago, he pointed to the Northeast as a huge reason why he took the job.

He said he was home.

Now he moves a few hours north to bring his brand of football to the Eagles. You will hear plenty from Addazio about being tough, about playing physical, about winning the line of scrimmage. He wants a power run game with a spread attack, too, and a defense that is aggressive and constantly comes at you.

That is who he is, and that is what he knows. There is not one coach who will question the physicality his Temple teams played with the last two seasons.

There will be those who point to his record this season (4-7) and wonder if this is the right hire. There will be those who bring up the criticism that trailed him at Florida in his final season there as offensive coordinator. But the reality of the situation is Temple had MAC players going against Big East players this season. Laugh at the Big East, but the league provides a step up in competition. And the Owls did not finish as the worst team in the league.

At Florida, he had an untenable situation his final year there, with a head coach who had quit, then un-quit and left most in the program scratching their heads about where they were headed.

Addazio has the fire and moxie that Boston College needs to turn this program around. He has the connections that are needed to turn this program around. Everything points to this being a home-run hire. Don't forget that Bates saw Addazio first-hand when the Owls were still in the MAC, and Bates was at Miami (Ohio).

Now we'll see if Addazio can hit his opportunity out of the park.

Sources: Finalists for BC job

December, 4, 2012
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Ball State coach Pete Lembo and New Orleans Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer are finalists for the Boston College job, sources told ESPN's Brett McMurphy on Tuesday.

First-year BC athletic director Brad Bates is searching for a replacement for former coach Frank Spaziani, who was fired one day after the Eagles finished their 2-10 season with a loss to NC State.

What is realistic for BC, NC State?

November, 27, 2012
Boston College and NC State have head coach openings, prompting the athletic directors at both schools to paint grand visions of the future.

NC State AD Debbie Yow reportedly wants a new coach to bring in "Alabama-type talent." Boston College AD Brad Bates wants to create a "destination-type situation" in Chestnut Hill. Are these goals realistic or simply a new standard that every single football program is aiming for given the increasing stakes at the head coaching position?

Every athletic director is going to aim high. You cannot begrudge Yow or Bates for publicly stating what they want, even if folks are rolling their eyes at their comments. No program is going to admit they are just middle-of-the-pack, and merely wants a coach to get them to a bowl game. Tom O'Brien did that for the Wolfpack and it was not enough.

Yow and Bates know NC State and BC can compete for ACC titles. You all watched the ACC this season, right?

But NC State does not need Alabama-type talent to win the league; and Boston College does not need to make its job a destination.

What they do need: an excellent recruiter AND a solid coach who knows how to surround himself with the right assistants, who fosters an atmosphere that holds players accountable without overreaching. There are only a handful of teams who get "Alabama-type talent" every single year. Last I checked, all those Top 10 recruiting rankings did not translate into national championships for Florida State.

Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have won the ACC without an abundance of five-star talent. So have Wake Forest and Maryland. Every single team in this league is beatable, given what we have seen the last several years. Forget about the stars next to a players' name. They mean nothing without the right coaches.

As for creating a destination-job, what exactly is a destination job these days? There are only a handful of coaches who have been in their current jobs more than 10 years. You can win without being a destination. I point you to the Big East, which has served as a minor-league system for coaches waiting for their shot at the big leagues.

Cincinnati has won Big East titles in three of the last four seasons and under two different head coaches. I feel confident in saying Cincinnati is not a destination job; rather the head coaches in place -- Brian Kelly and Butch Jones -- have done an excellent job with the talent they have gotten and developed the right system that appeals to their players. Remember, Cincinnati does not bring in five-star talent, and it is exceptionally difficult to get top-tier talent in state and the surrounding areas with Ohio State and Michigan nearby.

I realize the academic standards at BC are higher than Cincinnati, but that is not an excuse. Look at Notre Dame, Stanford and Duke this season. All three are headed to bowl games; one is playing for a national championship and the other is the favorite to win the Pac-12 title game. O'Brien won at Boston College a decade ago. It can be done.

The trick is not shooting for the moon, or creating something that is simply not there.

No. The trick is hiring a transcendent coach with a clear vision, who understands exactly what he is getting when he takes the job. No gimmicks, no platitudes. There is an inordinate amount of pressure on Yow and Bates to get this hire right. And for their next coach to begin producing immediately. Such is the life of coaches these days, and of athletics directors these days.

Their jobs are inextricably tied, given the high stakes involved. Realism is sometimes overshadowed in the race to the top.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 27, 2012
It's championship week!

When Boston College coach Frank Spaziani was hired as the Eagles’ head coach, he was lauded for his loyalty to the program, and his longevity there as a former assistant was one of his biggest attributes.

Spaziani was a better defensive coordinator than he was a head coach, though, and that was revealed throughout his tenure at BC, as the program saw a steady decline under his watch. The hire of first-year athletic director Brad Bates coupled with back-to-back losing seasons stacked the odds against Spaziani. After a 4-8 finish last year, he was under pressure from the moment former AD Gene DeFilippo announced his retirement in August.

Sunday’s announcement should be the least surprising development in the ACC this year. Boston College ended the season with four straight losses and only one win against an FBS opponent, Maryland. After BC’s loss to NC State this past weekend, the program concluded its worst season since the 1978 team finished 0-11. It was a miserable season for those within the program and anyone who watched it.

It wasn’t a matter of if, it was when.

The most glaring criticism of Spaziani’s tenure was a perceived inability to manage his staff. There was turnover at the offensive coordinator position, a complete overhaul of the offensive staff this past offseason, several off-field issues with players and vague answers about the direction of the program and the problems within it -- not to mention some questionable on-field decisions and average-at-best recruiting classes Insider.

While Spaziani shouldered the blame, he also inherited some of the mess. Spaziani entered the 2009 season without a single quarterback on his roster with collegiate starting experience. He turned to Dave Shinskie, a 25-year-old former minor league baseball player who wasn’t exactly the next Chris Weinke. The problems and inconsistency at quarterback plagued the program along with the instability at the coordinator position.

This past summer, Doug Martin became the Eagles’ fourth offensive coordinator in three seasons, as Spaziani had to replace Gary Tranquill, who retired after the 2010 season, and Kevin Rogers, who took a leave of absence for health reasons last year. Dave Brock was promoted to the position before Martin was hired.

This year, when the offense finally seemed to click under Martin’s supervision, the usually staunch defense came unraveled. Little if anything seemed to go right for Spaziani in the past two seasons.

While Boston College fans have long been clamoring for this change, they should also realize that they’re losing a true loyalist of the program. Spaziani had been on the BC sideline for the past 16 years.

His best days, though, were spent following, not leading.

Frank Spaziani out at Boston College

November, 25, 2012
Boston College fired coach Frank Spaziani on Sunday after a disastrous 2-10 season -- the Eagles' worst since 1978.

"A personnel decision of this magnitude affects many people and is never taken lightly, but I felt a change was necessary," BC athletic director Brad Bates said in a statement.

[+] EnlargeFrank Spaziani
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesFrank Spaziani's best season was his first, when he led the Eagles to an 8-5 record in 2009.
Spaziani becomes the second head coach let go Sunday in the ACC, joining NC State coach Tom O'Brien, fired earlier Sunday. Spaziani just finished his fourth season as head coach, and leaves with an overall record of 22-29. His teams got worse each season under his watch. This season was the obvious low point, as the Eagles only beat one FBS team on the season -- Maryland.

Before becoming head coach in 2009, Spaziani spent 10 years as the BC defensive coordinator and two years as running backs coach. All season, he deflected speculation about his job security, saying as recently as October, "Nobody sheds more blood, sweat, and tears on Saturday than I do. I know what our situation is, I know what I'm doing, I know the problems I have to work through. That's what I'm worried about."

Spaziani said in a statement issued through the school a short time after his firing was announced: “Obviously this is a sad day for my family and me. Boston College has been my home for more than 16 years, and I have been fortunate to work with some amazing student-athletes. I will always treasure my relationships with them and the BC staff. Boston College is a tremendous place, and I am extremely thankful for my time there. I wish the current and future Eagles nothing but the best.”

“It is with gratitude that we recognize the many contributions Coach Spaziani has made to Boston College during his 16 years in Chestnut Hill,” Bates said in the release. “He displayed unwavering dedication and loyalty to our institution and our football student-athletes, while consistently representing Boston College with class and dignity. He and his staff have devoted countless hours to our student-athletes and the BC community. We thank them and wish them well.”

Bates said Boston College would begin a search for a successor immediately.

“We will be seeking a leader whose vision of our football program mirrors the mission of our University, who values the development of our studentathletes and whose goal is to return our program to national prominence,” he said. “Our fans and the entire university community value the rich tradition of Boston College football, and we are committed to making it a successful program."