(An outsiders musings about activities at The Heights, aka Boston College, with special additional coverage, as the future of BC football coach Steve Addazio, athletic director Brad Bates and President Father William Leahy become more topical).
Give Boston College football coach Steve Addazio this much credit. He is saying the right things and making the right moves, while preparing for Saturday's game at North Carolina State.
One game at a time, keep your head down, work hard, maybe good things will happen. Addazio's mantra: BC is not that far away from turning a page, which would include the Eagles' first Atlantic Coast Conference victory in almost two years.
The problem is that fewer and fewer people believe BC can make that turn--at least not with Addazio as the head coach.
Take Saturday's game against NC State. The Wolfack is coming off a 54-13 pounding by Louisville, which followed a missed opportunity (24-17 overtime loss at Clemson). NC State looks vulnerable.
BC is coming off a 56-10 loss to Clemson and a 28-20 loss to Syracuse?
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State is favored by 15.5 points. Part of it may because the Eagles' starting QB Patrick Towles is likely to miss the game because of an injury (hamstring) and will be replaced by seldom used back up QB Darius Wade.
Ironically,that might be a reason to believe in the Eagles. Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky was not setting records at BC (7 TDS 4 interceptions, 7 games). Wade might give the Eagle' offense a jump start.
Just as last week's game against Syracuse was a crossroads game for the Eagles and Addazio, Saturday's game falls into the "must win'' category for BC.
The Eagles are (3-4) and after this week must deal with Louisville and Florida State in back to back weeks. If BC is going to snap the ACC losing streak which is now at 0-12 over the past year and half, it will most likely have to come on Saturday.
After Louisville and FSU, the Eagles only other ACC game is a regular-season road finale against a Wake Forest team that is already 5-2.
The prevailing theory is that it will take 5 or perhaps even 6 wins for Addazio to keep his job. But we are dealing with Boston College, which follows its own path when making athletic decisions.
In a normal flow of a season, Addazio's recent record 3-9 last season and maybe another 3-9 or 4-8 season this year would put his career at BC in severe jeopardy.
In such instances, the athletic director makes the decision and confers with the University President about what course of action to follow.
But at BC, Father Leahy could very well announce his retirement in a few weeks or few months and Bates has been widely reported to be in the final year of a contract that will not be renewed, at least not by Leahy.
All of which begs a question. Who is going to make a decision on the hiring of a new head coach if a change is made?
It is very unlikely (although not impossible) that BC will announce or make any changes at the Presidential or AD level before the end of the football season. And while Bates could be allowed to fire the head coach, there is no way he will be allowed to hire a football coach if Bates is not coming back.
And there is the matter of Addazio's contract. He was hired by Bates in 2012, put together back to back 7 -6 seasons, which got him a contract extension that will put him THROUGH the 2020 season.
The latest postings by USA Today stated that Addazio is being paid slightly more than $2.3 million per year. And BC is contractually obligated to pay him for the next FOUR seasons.
That's a big chunk of change for a school that just finished paying off the contracts of football coach Frank Spaziani and basketball coach Al Skinner.
Buying out contracts has become a cottage industry in college athletics. It is mind-boggling to see such facts as former Notre Dame and Kansas coach Charlie Weis collect $21 MILLION dollars from two jobs in which he was fired for failure to win enough.
BC has the money-the ACC will write a check of between 23 and 25 million dollars each season as part of the conference television package, which will increase again when the ACC television network begins in 2019.
And there almost certainly is a cap on the buyout figure for Addazio, but the price of an old coach and a new coach will significantly increase the expenses for the BC athletic department.
BC could also follow a standard process of letting the system work, which means that a new President will be selected, who will then make a decision on an athletic director, who will then make a decision on a football coach.
Those moves would be made over the next several months, not weeks, which would basically guarantee that Addazio will be brought back for his fifth season at The Heights.
Even if Addazio returns, BC could be in a tough situation unless the Eagles finish the season with a flurry of wins that gets them a bowl bid. If the Eagles finish at 3-9 or 4-8 and Addazio returns, he will almost certainly be on a job watch all of next season.
And that creates another issue: With that looming, how does Addazio RECRUIT this winter. Players almost always sign letters of intent based on the coach, not the school.
Any recruit that BC goes after will almost certainly ask this question: ""What's your future at BC, Coach?''
There is almost no way that Addazio can answer that question honestly without affecting recruiting, which would mean that BC again will be in the bottom feeders of ACC schools in new talent.
And almost every school that BC recruits against will use that against the Eagles.
All of which leads us back to Saturday. A win against State, keeps the flame of hope flickering that five or six wins (NC State, UConn and Wake Forest) is possible.
A loss and the flame is again doused by a wave of uncertainty, confusion, and anger or even worse apathy, that has become part of the profile of BC football and basketball.
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