Spaziani a better assistant than head coach

When Boston College coach Frank Spaziani was hired as the Eagles’ head coach, he was lauded for his loyalty to the program, and his longevity there as a former assistant was one of his biggest attributes.

Spaziani was a better defensive coordinator than he was a head coach, though, and that was revealed throughout his tenure at BC, as the program saw a steady decline under his watch. The hire of first-year athletic director Brad Bates coupled with back-to-back losing seasons stacked the odds against Spaziani. After a 4-8 finish last year, he was under pressure from the moment former AD Gene DeFilippo announced his retirement in August.

Sunday’s announcement should be the least surprising development in the ACC this year. Boston College ended the season with four straight losses and only one win against an FBS opponent, Maryland. After BC’s loss to NC State this past weekend, the program concluded its worst season since the 1978 team finished 0-11. It was a miserable season for those within the program and anyone who watched it.

It wasn’t a matter of if, it was when.

The most glaring criticism of Spaziani’s tenure was a perceived inability to manage his staff. There was turnover at the offensive coordinator position, a complete overhaul of the offensive staff this past offseason, several off-field issues with players and vague answers about the direction of the program and the problems within it -- not to mention some questionable on-field decisions and average-at-best recruiting classesInsider.

While Spaziani shouldered the blame, he also inherited some of the mess. Spaziani entered the 2009 season without a single quarterback on his roster with collegiate starting experience. He turned to Dave Shinskie, a 25-year-old former minor league baseball player who wasn’t exactly the next Chris Weinke. The problems and inconsistency at quarterback plagued the program along with the instability at the coordinator position.

This past summer, Doug Martin became the Eagles’ fourth offensive coordinator in three seasons, as Spaziani had to replace Gary Tranquill, who retired after the 2010 season, and Kevin Rogers, who took a leave of absence for health reasons last year. Dave Brock was promoted to the position before Martin was hired.

This year, when the offense finally seemed to click under Martin’s supervision, the usually staunch defense came unraveled. Little if anything seemed to go right for Spaziani in the past two seasons.

While Boston College fans have long been clamoring for this change, they should also realize that they’re losing a true loyalist of the program. Spaziani had been on the BC sideline for the past 16 years.

His best days, though, were spent following, not leading.