There are no winners in the firing of BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski
BC fired Jeff Jagodzinski after he interviewed with the Jets against the AD's wishes
The Eagles are left without a head coach 28 days before Signing Day
By displaying their dirty laundry in public, both coach and AD have lost
Just last week, Boston College assistants held up Matt Ryan's NFL Rookie of the Year trophy as the image of BC football for all recruits to see. They pointed to Eagles coach Jeff Jagodzinski as the man who helped kickstart Ryan's Heisman campaign and who molded him into the NFL's No. 3 overall pick. With the murky details of the coach's power struggle with athletic director Gene DeFilippo leaking out over the last few days, those same assistants now have to sell a program that has an an image problem.
"We were on radio silence for a while there," one BC coach said Wednesday. "We had to make sure we held off some of our [recruiting] visits for Thursday, when we would know what to tell kids."
Though Jagodzinski's dismissal finally came on Wednesday after a closed door meeting with DeFilippo, the same place the power brokering should have remained throughout the affair, both parties emerged with self-inflicted wounds. At 45, Jagodzinski, once lauded for his folksy demeanor and wide-open offense, will find another job, most likely in the NFL, but any pretense of his innocence will be overshadowed by the fact that he tried to be the invisible man while interviewing with the Jets. DeFilippo, a seasoned veteran of coaching and conference politics who spearheaded BC's move to the ACC, lost some face for his public posturing and threat to fire Jagodzinski if he interviewed with the Jets.
In standing firm against Jagodzinski, who twice brought the Eagles to the doorstep of a BCS bowl appearance, DeFilippo is betting that he can find a quick-fix who will double as the long-term answer he has coveted from the start. DeFilippo must now restart his quest for a lifer coach, and he will begin with current defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani and offensive coordinator Steve Logan as the top internal candidates.
Spaziani, who also served under Jagodzinski's predecessor, Tom O'Brien, was passed over for the job two years ago and has never been a head coach. Now 62, his age was thought to be the biggest hurdle the first time around, but his 12 years on campus and friendship with DeFilippo make him the front-runner. Logan, meanwhile, was the head coach and Jagodzinski his offensive coordinator at East Carolina in the '90s. He's the mastermind behind the Eagles' high-flying offense that recruits find attractive.
With 12 verbal commitments, BC still has work to do along the recruiting trail. Consistently ranked among the nation's top three programs in graduation rates, BC, according to DeFilippo, is strong enough to attract top players who also meet the school's high academic standards. Making that pitch to top high school players is difficult enough when all is going well, but it is even tougher now without a coach.
A cigar aficionado known to puff rings of smoke in private after big victories, DeFilippo should know that even though he found fire where there appeared to be only smoke in regards to Jagodzinski and the Jets, there was no winner in this power struggle.