The Curious Case of Jeff Jagodzinski
This storyline is all too similar to an onion. Not only does it reek and make sports fans cry, but there are also many layers—layers which will most likely never be revealed to the public.
As first reported by Chris Mortensen on ESPN, promptly followed by an appearance on the Bottom Line and used as a lead-in to Boston College's men's basketball team's amazing victory over then-No. 1 UNC, Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo issued an ultimatum to his football coach. According to Mortensen, if Jeffrey Jagodzinski interviewed for the Jets opening as head coach, he would be fired.
Boston College fans ran to their computers to spit out rumors, accusations, and "I told you so's" on the message boards. Sports reporters began to dig into the story, and at the same time, the collective opinionist in every person who heard the story came out.
Who was GDF to issue such an ultimatum? Who leaked the story? Who was in the wrong? What did the contract really stipulate? Did Jags or DeFilippo lie to the press Saturday and Sunday?
There is an old adage, "There are three sides to every story: One party's, the other party's, and the truth." We may never truly know the answer to all of those questions, but one thing is for sure: Unless it comes out that the ultimatum was a media fabrication, which all signs point toward that not being the case, Jagodzinski can never return to BC as a coach.
When hired by the school, Jags pledged to bring in "the very best possible staff," along with "difference-makers" on the recruiting trail. He added that he would reach a level of success unseen by his predecessor. The jury is out on his staff, though Frank Spaziana, a holdover, is heralded for his defense and Steve Logan has an impressive résumé.
The recruits, however, have not come, despite two appearances in the ACC Championship Game and the success of Matt Ryan in the NFL. Thus far, Boston College only has 10 commitments in this year's class; only one is rated four stars or above, and five are not rated at all.
Though the recruiting sites have been wrong before, and Jags has shown he can find "diamonds in the rough" with stars like Montel Harris and Anthony Costanzo, the results have not been stellar on the recruiting trail, which apparently has not pleased DeFilippo and made Jags question his place in the college game.
Now, with an already questionable recruiting class, Jagodzinski has jeopardized it even further by adding in the possibility of a coaching change. The few stars may disappear with the uncertainty of the program, and those players who have the possibility to go pro may do so once a new coach is picked.
Jagodzinski's ego and desire to chase the elusive American dream, coupled with DeFilippo's ego and comprehension of an unwritten agreement, may throw the program into a tailspin for years to come.
IF Coach Jagodzinski lied to the AD about the Jets' interest, and if he truly did have enough of the recruiting game, the school should get rid of him regardless of the interview results. Boston College may never be a destination for a coach, though Frank Spaziana may disagree, it should not be a two-year layover. That is not good for the school, for the program, or for the players who commit to you and your system.
No matter who leaked this story to the media, the situation was handled poorly by my alma mater. Much like the betting scandals of basketball teams in the past, or transgressions of expelled football players, the school has cast a dark, dark cloud over itself in the media. It is a PR nightmare that could affect the hiring of coaches, teachers, and administrators down the line, as well as recruiting.
It now must act quickly, smoothly, and properly in cleaning it up. GDF and Jags must appear in public together to patch things up, the coach must quit, or the school must fire him with more substantial reasons than just the interview itself.
It must also find an appropriate coach to follow up Jags—one that will tolerate a politician AD, that can commit to at least four years at the school, and one that can keep the players, recruits, and fans as passionate as they have grown the last few years.
Boston College may never be a powerhouse in football. It already does a great job graduating student-athletes and being consistently ranked in football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's hockey, and sailing. Fan support has grown tremendously, if not exponentially, over the last few years.
If the team goes into a tailspin, it will all go away, and the success and marketing of teams past will be all for naught.
BC does two things well: educate and remain consistent. A new coach, found internally or externally, must continue that next year, or ramifications will be felt via fan support, donations, and recruiting for years to come.
Is a 62-year-old, an OC who's said he does not want to HC anymore, or a man with a losing record at LaTech right for the job? Is a friend of the AD or a passed over candidate two years ago the choice now? Gene DeFilippo had successfully handled transitions and transgressions in the past, but he has never botched something as publicly as this. The pressure is on him now to prove his worth, or lose his job.
Jeffrey Jagodzinski, the man who pledged his commitment to the school for "years to come" in his first presser, has jeopardized the program, and so has Gene DeFilippo. It is hard to imagine one head not rolling as a result, but don't be surprised if a year later, after a new coach is transitioned in, a second head rolls and you have the ability to chase your dream of becoming an Athletic Director.
If you were a recruit, though, would you commit to a coach that has publicly shown interest in taking off so quickly and shown so little commitment to a program, especially if that coach teaches an offensive scheme not perfected by many others and that could require you to completely change the game?
I will not hide my opinion. I love Boston College, and I loved Jags as a coach. He has, however, jeopardized a program I follow passionately, and for that he should be fired. Someone, even if it is someone at the tail end of his career who will use it as a "stepping down" stone, should be brought in.
Gene DeFilippo, for all the good he has done, has just put the first taps on a nail in his coffin with this debaucherous situation. That coffin, however, is made of balsa wood, and one little thing can drive that nail home.
There is another old adage that this story brings to mind: "Only time will tell."
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