The Boston College Eagles pulled off a mild upset earlier today, beating the Miami Hurricanes on the road to finish the 2011 season 4-8. The disappointing season will be the first one without a bowl game appearance since 1998, breaking a streak of 12 consecutive seasons the Eagles had played in a postseason game.
BC's athletic director, Gene DeFilippo, now has to decide whether or not to stick by head coach Frank Spaziani. Spaziani was the team's very successful defensive coordinator from 1999-2009 but has struggled to an uninspiring 18-18 record in three years as head coach. If BC is serious about competing in the always wide open Atlantic Coast Conference, DeFilippo needs to cut ties with Spaziani and then look no further than an hour north of Boston to pluck Sean McDonnell away from the University of New Hampshire.
I made a similar plea to UConn less than a year ago to tab McDonnell as their head coach. UConn ignored my advice and instead hired former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has so far led the Huskies to a 4-6 record.
If DeFilippo were wise, he would quickly let Spaziani go and make Sean McDonnell the next head coach of the Eagles. McDonnell has quietly made UNH a powerhouse at the FCS (formerly 1-AA) level. He has a 96-61 record in 13 seasons at his alma mater and has led the Wildcats to the NCAA playoffs eight straight years. McDonnell was the 2005 Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year and is a three-time New England Football Writers FCS Coach of the Year.
Hiring McDonnell would send a signal that Boston College is not only serious about playing in the postseason but that they know that the candidates to take over the head job at a FBS school do not need to be a coordinator from another FBS school. If you doubt that, look up the coaching history of Chip Kelly. Before making a name for himself as Oregon's offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and then winning nearly every National Coach of the Year award in 2010 in leading the Ducks to the BCS National Championship Game, Kelly worked under Sean McDonnell at UNH.
If UNH was enough on the resume to have Oregon take a chance on Chip Kelly, it should be more than enough for Boston College to make the call on Sean McDonnell.
Boston College can be a contender for the ACC title, it's just not going to happen under Frank Spaziani. For BC to compete for championships they need to make a head coaching change and with a proven winner like Sean McDonnell in their backyard, they could be back in the mix for the ACC crown within two years if they make him their next head coach. Hopefully BC will not make the same mistake of going with a retread candidate that UConn made and will make a bold decision to hire one of the most qualified candidates in the country in an attempt to make their football team relevant locally and nationally.
While the Boston College job is not yet available - and Spaziani is no lock to be fired - there is an open FBS head coaching job in New England that is open. UMass, which is leaving FCS for FBS next season, fired coach Kevin Morris earlier in the week. UMass is very familiar with McDonnell's work at UNH as the two schools were fierce rivals in both the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association. The Minutemen would be making an excellent hire in McDonnell as they say goodbye to FCS football and prepare for life in the Mid-American Conference.
The bottom line? Boston College is on the verge of becoming irrelevant in football if they stay with Frank Spaziani and Sean McDonnell is the right man to fix what ails the Eagles program. If BC doesn't do the right thing and hire McDonnell, UMass could pounce and set themselves up for success in their new life as a FBS football school.