There might not be an athletic department in the country that has more at stake in the final half of the college football season than Boston College.
At 3-4 heading into Saturday’s game at N.C. State, there’s still theoretically a chance for Boston College to make a bowl game and regain some of the momentum that seemed to be building in Steve Addazio’s first two seasons.
On the other hand, the Eagles are in the midst of a 12-game ACC losing streak dating to last season and only 34,647 showed up (that was the announced crowd, anyway) last weekend to watch a 28-20 loss to Syracuse. With games coming up against N.C. State, Louisville, Florida State and Wake Forest, there’s a real chance Addazio could post consecutive 0-8 conference records.
Despite the grim streak Boston College is trying to break, it’s far from certain Addazio will be replaced after this season.
For one thing, firing Addazio with four years left on his deal would be an expensive proposition for a school with one of the more frugal reputations among members of the Power Five. But perhaps the more interesting factor is the underlying uncertainty within Boston College’s athletic administration.
Though current athletics director Brad Bates inherited difficult circumstances from his predecessor, Gene DiFilippo, the nosedive in football combined with a basketball program coming off a 0-18 season in the ACC has created a mess for a program that struggles to gain relevance in the Boston market under the best of circumstances.
According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the vibe coming out of Boston College is that Bates’ contract is not likely to be renewed when it expires next summer.
Bates has flirted with other openings in recent months, but at this point it seems almost certain he will be in place through the end of this season and into 2017. That sets up a scenario where the school, if it wanted to change football coaches this cycle, would do so with an athletics director who is perceived to be a lame duck.
In other words, there’s a school of thought at Boston College that it might just be better from a timing perspective to give Addazio one more chance to turn it around and start fresh with a new athletics director next year.
That doesn’t guarantee anything. The schedule coming up is difficult, and the optics of a 16-game conference losing streak would be awful, especially if the results are lopsided. But the decision will come from school president Rev. William P. Leahy, and all indications are that he would prefer not to have to make that move — especially right now.
COACHING CAROUSEL CLIPS
This is the time of year in which athletics directors at smaller schools and search firms start looking over coaching staffs for assistants with upward mobility. Of the 29 FBS jobs that opened in the last cycle, 17 were filled by assistant coaches, underscoring how important it is to be considered a hot commodity among that group.
Putting aside Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, whose history will make him a divisive figure in many coaching searches, several assistants have clearly raised their stock this year and will land on interview lists at the end of the season.
Among those in that group:
►Rhett Lashlee, Auburn OC: Still only 33, the Tigers’ offense has taken off since Gus Malzahn gave him total control of play calling.
►Tim Drevno, Michigan OC: Longtime Jim Harbaugh assistant going back to University of San Diego is having a breakout season with the Wolverines’ rise to No. 2.
►Justin Wilcox, Wisconsin DC: Coaches the nation’s No. 9 defense; has been good everywhere in his career except Southern California.
►Kendal Briles, Baylor OC: Despite the scandal attached to his father, the Baylor system has brought instant offense everywhere it has been imported.
►Jake Spavital, California OC: The former Texas A&M wunderkind is still just 31, and the move to Berkeley has paid big dividends. Cal is averaging 545 yards of offense per game.
►Matt Canada, Pittsburgh OC: Going into Thursday’s game, Pitt scored 36-plus points in six consecutive games, the longest such streak in school history.
►Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama DC: After a rough ending at Georgia, he returned to Alabama and has arguably produced the Tide’s best defense since Saban became head coach.
►Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado co-OC: The former Buffaloes and NFL receiver returned to his alma mater this year and helped engineer their 6-2 start.
►Ivin Jasper, Navy OC: With Ken Niumatalolo likely to stay for the long haul, don’t be surprised if his offensive coordinator starts to get serious looks as Navy’s ascent in the AAC continues.
►Manny Diaz, Miami DC: Has done a terrific job this year with a young defense and is well-connected in South Florida as a recruiter.
FAUX PAS OF THE WEEK
UConn coach Bob Diaco is endearingly insane. Not only was Diaco unhappy and obviously hurt about the social media backlash he received over the “Civil ConFLiCT” trophy and rivalry he created with UCF, but he spent 10 minutes defending himself when asked his thoughts on UCF basically snubbing the trophy after its victory last weekend.
“I’m trying to maintain my composure here,” Diaco said before launching into his rant.
Diaco might be the most earnest man in college football, and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether to laugh at his eccentricities or admire how passionately he attacks things on the periphery.
He did have a point, however, in defending himself: His hare-brained idea to shoehorn this “rivalry” got people talking about his program and the AAC.
“I got other ideas too,” Diaco said. “They want to talk about networks? I've got all sorts of idea on networks. Let's target 6- to 16-year-olds. How about that? Eventually they're going to be 18-to-35. Let's broadcast our games on Nickelodeon. Who owns that? Viacom? Let's create some real intrigue. Let's create a following.”
Crazy or hilarious? You decide.
YOUR WEEKLY HARBAUGH
The latest Jim Harbaugh style addition came last week when he showed up on the sidelines wearing some old school “browline” glasses that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Harbaugh explained that he is now a “full-time glasses person” on the recommendation of his eye doctor and that he chose those particular frames as a “tip of the cap to Woody Hayes, to Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down and also a tip of the cap to Malcolm X.”
It seems there is nothing connecting the former Ohio State coach to a fictional movie character who goes off the deep end to one of history’s most important civil rights activists other than their eyewear choices. But if it makes a guy who wears khaki pants every day feel a little more hip, have at it, Jim.
DUD OF THE WEEK
It’s understandable that Texas A&M would want to schedule an easy game right after playing Alabama. But it’s not so great for the fans or the SEC to have its No. 2 team playing New Mexico State in late October in a battle of Aggies. New Mexico State is 2-5 but was reasonably competitive in its previous foray into SEC football, losing 62-42 at Kentucky.
This is a whole different level, however, and the only question is whether Texas A&M will be motivated enough to cover the 44-point spread.