Wednesday, January 7, 2009
BC ready to move on without Jagodzinski
ESPN.com news services
BOSTON -- Boston College fired Jeff Jagodzinski on Wednesday, days after he was warned he would be dismissed if he interviewed for the coaching job with the New York Jets.
BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo told Jagodzinski on Saturday that his job would be in jeopardy if he went through with the Jets interview. Jagodzinski met with the Jets on Tuesday night.
A few hours later, at a Wednesday morning meeting, DeFilippo told Jagodzinski he was out. He seemed to choke back tears as he discussed his decision.
"We're really good friends and this is a very difficult thing to do," DeFilippo said at a news conference. "We will find somebody who really wants to be at Boston College and will be here for the length of their contract."
In an exclusive interview with ESPN's Kelly Naqi, Jagodzinski said that he was "fine, feeling good," after learning of his dismissal.
"Gene and I have been friends for 12 years," he continued. "We had a difference of opinion and vision, that's the way it worked out. I did everything in the spirit of the contract. It'll be fun watching those guys down the road. I want the best and continued success for them. I'm still a BC fan. I've got nothing but positive things to say about BC. I'm very proud of the coaches and kids."
Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani likely will be named the interim head coach at some point, sources told ESPN's Wendi Nix. Spaziani has been a Boston College assistant for 12 years, the past 10 as defensive coordinator.
DeFilippo said he fired Jagodzinski over a "difference of vision for the future." He has said he wanted a coach who would stay at the school long term. Jagodzinski has been BC's coach for two years and had three years left on his contract.
"A coach of his talents and personality will have many future opportunities and I am certain of his continued success," he said.
Jagodzinski wouldn't elaborate on his interview with the Jets.
"I don't think we need to go into that," he told Naqi.
DeFilippo declined to speculate during a 20-minute news conference -- at which he said "I love Jags" -- if the coach preferred the technical, X's and O's job of an NFL coach to the college job with its recruiting and glad-handing of supporters.
"I really don't know" if he preferred the pro game, DeFilippo said. "You would have to ask Jeff that."
Two players praised the coach and agreed with DeFilippo.
"If there were any indications, we didn't see it," said junior Mark Herzlich, one of the nation's top linebackers.
Tight end Ryan Purvis didn't either during Jagodzinski's two seasons at BC.
"I thought it was the opposite," said Purvis, taking a break from his West Coast workouts for the NFL draft combine Feb. 18-24. "I thought he preferred the college game. He really enjoyed the team aspect of it. The next level is more like a business."
Jagodzinski was fired "without cause," DeFilippo said, an indication he would be paid at least some of the money remaining on his contract.
DeFilippo said he would name an interim coach soon and interview at least two candidates from outside Boston College but would talk first with any current assistants who are interested. Besides Spaziani, assistant head coach Jack Bicknell Jr. could be a candidate.
"I wish this day would end and get over, then we can begin to look for the next head football coach here at Boston College," DeFilippo said.
He said Wednesday was the hardest day he's had in 12 years as BC's athletic director.
The BC job was the 45-year-old Jagodzinski's first as a head coach after 22 years as an assistant, 14 in college and eight in the NFL. After one season as offensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers in 2006, Jagodzinski went to BC after Tom O'Brien left for North Carolina State.
He led the Eagles to two Atlantic Coast Conference title games but lost both to Virginia Tech. They were 11-3 in his first season, when they rose as high as the No. 2 national ranking. They went 9-5 in 2008, winding up with a 16-14 loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 that snapped an eight-game bowl winning streak for the Eagles.
Jagodzinski upset DeFilippo when he didn't tell his boss that he would interview with the Jets, who fired Eric Mangini the day after the team missed the playoffs despite an 8-3 start.
The two finally spoke.
"[DeFilippo] said, 'Let's talk about it' and we talked about it," Jagodzinski told Naqi. "There wasn't a confrontation, there was a difference of opinion. We had a disagreement."
Jagodzinski was Jets quarterback Brett Favre's offensive coordinator in Green Bay but is considered a long shot for the New York job. He also could be interested in an offensive coordinator's position in the pros, which has few if any of the responsibilities of a college coach -- recruiting, meeting with alumni and supporters of the program, attending functions and participating in other off-field events.
Seattle needs to assemble a staff under new coach Jim Mora, and Jagodzinski has worked with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Jagodzinski spent two years as BC's offensive coordinator, starting in 1997 when Hasselbeck played there.
The Seahawks are waiting to see what the Jets do with Jagodzinski before considering him. He worked for Mora as an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons.
Jagodzinski wasn't sure what the future holds.
"I don't know. I don't know," he told Naqi. "We'll just keep moving on and BC will move forward. I'm not upset or bitter. It was a disagreement and that's why we'll [he and DeFilippo] remain friends.
"It was a great experience for me."
Information from ESPN reporter Kelly Naqi and The Associated Press was used in this report.