It has been more than a month since Boston College tasted victory on the football field. The Eagles’ season was dealt swift blows the past two weeks when Army stunned them at West Point, then Florida State steamrolled them in Tallahassee.
No one has come under more fire for the disappointing year than coach Frank Spaziani. The sound and fury reached a fever pitch last week just as newly appointed BC athletic director Brad Bates was introduced, but Bates made it clear he would wait until the end of the season to evaluate Spaziani.
In the locker room, the 1-5 record has players frustrated, but they still support their coach, even though they hear the constant criticism.
“You hear it, but it’s not something you worry about,” said captain and left tackle Emmett Cleary. “We all know the criticisms only matter from within that room. There’s a lot of uninformed opinions flying around.
“It’s hard. I’m not going to say it’s not affecting people. Whenever anything like this that you put so much into isn’t going well, it has some effect.
“But that’s one of the reasons I love our team. We’ve been practicing better than ever. We’ve just got to win. We’re working hard, we’re getting there, people are enthusiastic. We’ve just got to win.”
The way Spaziani has carried himself under the intensifying scrutiny — even-keeled and consistent — has been an example for the locker room, Cleary said.
“In a way, he treats it like we do,” said Cleary. “But it’s admirable to watch him come to work every day and be the same guy with some of the stuff that’s going on.”
The mounting losses haven’t changed the way players have responded in practice, Spaziani said. Morale could have easily dipped, he said, but it hasn’t.
“I’ve said this over and over again, and I need to keep repeating it,” Spaziani said. “I’ve been here 16 years, and you wouldn’t notice the difference in any practices — ever. This group is no different, to their credit.”
He has said “the huddle’s getting smaller,” a phrase he uses to describe how players are reacting in difficult times. Certain players, such as linebacker Nick Clancy, who leads the nation in tackles, and running back Andre Williams, who has run for 100 yards each of the past two games, have bought into their new roles.
By and large, the players say the coaching staff keeps them prepared going into every game. It has come down to a lack of execution.
“Coach Spaz has been here for a while, and been on some very successful teams,” said linebacker Steele Divitto. “It’s not like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s been a defensive coordinator for so many years. It’s about everyone just buying in and trusting that we’re going to get it done.”
After the Army loss, wide receiver Spiffy Evans took to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying something had to change.
“No one thought we were going to lose that game — we didn’t think we were going to lose that game,” Evans said. “I was frustrated, and I will say that’s not my spot to voice my opinion on Twitter, but it’s just a level of I have to let it out somewhere and you try as best as possible to do it in a positive light.”
Losing, 51-7, to Florida State — where the Hollywood, Fla., native was playing in front of a hometown crowd with 41 family members (most of them wearing his No. 7 jersey) — was just as tough for Evans to swallow.
Still, he said, the blame falls more on the players than the coaches.
“We’re the ones out there making the plays or not making the plays,” Evans said. “So as for the losses — because that’s what’s most important, wins and losses — we take responsibility for it as a unit, as a team.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.