Frank Spaziani doesn’t have a Twitter account.
He’s probably better for it.
It’s a weird world, where facts and opinions move at the speed of a tweet. The scrutiny and blame for a 2-9 season has been piled on top of the Boston College football coach one tweet and one comment after the other, at a time when 140 characters never seemed to carry so much weight.
Chase Rettig, the Eagles’ quarterback and a child of the Internet age, can only shake his head.
“I think social networking is terrible for head coaches these days,” he said. “When coaches got an opportunity back in the day, they had a bunch of time to establish themselves. And now with our day of social media and everyone being able to know everything, all this information really fast, it seems like coaches have a year to do something great, and, if they don’t, then it’s on to the next person.”
Spaziani’s job security has been a topic of discussion all season. Finishing with a losing record for the second straight year only added fuel for critics who wanted change as swiftly as possible.
Athletic director Brad Bates said when he arrived in October that he would wait until the end of the season to evaluate the program. The Eagles’ season finale Saturday at North Carolina State will have little impact on any decision Bates makes.
The leaders in the locker room, however, have consistently thrown their support behind Spaziani, even as the criticism reached suffocating levels.
“We all hear it, we’re all on campus, but we’re all behind Spaz,” said senior offensive lineman Emmett Cleary, a captain. “Any team that would blame something like that on their coach — players play. If I’m in position and I don’t make it, I’m not going to blame somebody for calling the wrong play.
“Spaz, it’s toughness, discipline, and approaching the game the right way that he’s instilled in this team. We know that’s how it has to work. We’ve had a rough season, but those lessons, they work for football and they work for life. So nobody’s lost sight of that, I think.”
The decision won’t be up to them, but the players are backing their embattled coach.
“I’d definitely throw my support for him coming back next year,” said senior defensive back Jim Noel.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” said junior receiver Alex Amidon.
The sentiment couldn’t be more different outside the locker room, and the challenge of keeping the sound and the fury outside has fallen on many of the seniors.
“We don’t allow that stuff to creep into the locker room,” Noel said. “We just try to leave all the negative stuff outside.”
Said Amidon, “We try and stay close as a team. Everything outside — you’re always hearing people say certain things — we try to keep it just a tight community inside the locker room, try and keep everything positive. You can’t be having things like that, and when it does happen, that’s when the team starts falling apart. We just try and make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Even though Spaziani could point to injuries, the recruiting class of 2008 (of which all but nine players left the team for various reasons), a lack of senior leadership, and a reliance on young players he had every intention of redshirting, the Eagles coach has been reluctant to make excuses. He prepared for each game, absorbing the previous loss and trying to improve. The hard work didn’t net the desired results, but players admired the way he handled a difficult season.
“With all the criticism, it’s been good watching Spaz model what he’s been preaching for years now, that you just have to worry about the day-to-day things and keep working,” Cleary said. “That’s ultimately what causes success in this world.”
By and large, players are in the dark about the decision-making process. Spaziani has had casual conversations with Bates, but none, he said, regarding how the program will be evaluated at season’s end.
“I don’t know anything,” said Amidon. “I’ve heard rumors. Not from anyone on the team, not from anything in-house. So, it’s nothing that would indicate anything yet.”
But they all have to brace for the possibility of a change.
“It is strange, but whatever happens happens,” Amidon said. “We’ve just got to make sure we can come together as players and make sure the best thing comes out of whatever happens. It’s really on the players to keep the team together. So, I think we have to do a better job of that next year.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.