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Spaziani introduced at BC

Posted by Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff  January 13, 2009 06:45 PM

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It was so much different from a week ago. It was celebratory, as opposed to the somber atmosphere when Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo fought back tears as he announced the firing of football coach Jeff Jagodzinski.

Today, DeFilippo and a roomful of BC supporters, staff, and family members were having fun again as DeFilippo introduced longtime Eagles defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani as the new head coach.

"Today is one great day for Boston College and Boston College football,’’ said DeFilippo, whose program was jolted a week ago when he fired a person he considers a close friend, ostensibly because of a difference in philosophy and the direction that the program should be following. ‘‘Like most of us at BC Nation, Spaz bleeds maroon and gold. But the most important thing was hiring a great football coach, and we got that in Spaz.’’

With that, DeFilippo reached under the table and pulled out a BC visor and a yellow towel -- trademarks of Spaziani during his tenure at the school, which dates to 1997, when he arrived at The Heights as a member of Tom O’Brien’s staff.

‘‘I don’t know who’s more excited,’’ said Spaziani, who was the clear in-house favorite from the start. ‘‘I know I’m excited. I am ecstatic to be here.’’

In the end, it was an easy choice. When DeFilippo announced the firing of Jagodzinski -- their dispute arose from Jagodzinski’s contact with the New York Jets -- he stated his parameters for the next coach: ‘‘I really want someone who wants to be at BC and will be here for the length of his contract.’’

No one fits that better than Spaziani. His pedigree is as solid as the defenses he has produced the past several years, first for O’Brien, who hired him after a five-year stint as an assistant coach in the Canadian Football League.

Spaziani played defensive end for Joe Paterno at Penn State (Class of 1969) and began his coaching career as a Nittany Lions graduate assistant. He then moved through the coaching chain, with stops at Navy (where he met O’Brien) and Virginia.

When O’Brien left for North Carolina State two years ago, Spaziani applied for the BC head job, but DeFilippo went outside the box to hire Jagodzinski.

Spaziani was one of four internal candidates to express an interest in the job, along with offensive coordinator Steve Logan, offensive line coach/assistant head coach Jack Bicknell Jr., and director of football operations Barry Gallup. But Spaziani was the leader among that group.

DeFilippo looked outside BC as well, but it was a quick look. According to a source close to the program, he talked to only two people: Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell and Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. He also called Florida about offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, but Addazio was in the hospital with a knee infection.

It really didn’t matter, as DeFilippo had pretty much made up his mind, especially with a parade of endorsements for Spaziani from staff as well as members of the team.

Spaziani, in his interview last Thursday, made clear his passion for BC football and his intention of remaining there for as long as he was wanted.

Although no financial terms were revealed, DeFilippo established the guidelines when he hired Jagodzinski; a source close to the program said Spaziani’s deal should be in the range of five years and $1 million in annual total compensation.

Though he felt good about his interview, Spaziani did not get the official word from DeFilippo until yesterday morning.

‘‘I was getting about two hours sleep a night,’’ said Spaziani. ‘‘It’s been a long week.

‘‘I’ve been here 12 years, and I’ve been here for all the right reasons.’’

Look for linebackers coach Billy McGovern to be elevated to defensive coordinator and for most of the defensive staff to remain in place.

Offensively, things could be a little more unsettled as Spaziani gauges the feelings of Logan and Bicknell. If Logan leaves, wide receivers coach Ryan Day could find himself with increased responsibilities.

Spaziani said he would work all that out over the next several days, as well as set his recruiting schedule so the Eagles can resume a process that was put on hold when Jagodzinski was fired.

‘‘I wanted to be a head coach, but I wanted to be a head coach at Boston College — I didn’t want to be a head coach just to be a head coach,’’ said Spaziani. ‘‘Obviously this is something I want to have happened and I’m overjoyed with it.’’

The news of Spaziani’s hiring quickly spread, and it reached O’Brien at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville.

‘‘I’m a BC fan,’’ said O’Brien, who rebuilt the BC program over a 10-year period, putting in place a foundation that helped produce 30 wins in the last three years. ‘‘And I will be every game, except when they play us.’’

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