If you took a tour of the Boston College campus this week, you would notice one obvious example of change: After almost a decade of talking, planning and negotiating, work on an indoor football facility for the Eagles has finally begun, adjacent to Alumni Stadium.
If the Eagles have any long range hope of moving up the food chain in the Atlantic Coast Conference–which now has the reigning national champion in Clemson–an improvement in facilities was an absolutely essential ingredient.
Whether football coach Steve Addazio is still around when the facility is completed next summer has yet to be determined–more about that later.
Another change–but much less obvious, but twice as important as the upgrade in facilities–was the presence of new athletic director Martin Jarmond, who spent his first official day at work in his office at The Heights on Monday.
Jarmond replaces Brad Bates, who came to BC with great expectations and very little in overall accomplishment when his 5-year contract was not renewed.
Whether Jarmond is the real deal remains to be seen. He has big time pedigree, with stints at Michigan State and Ohio State.
At 37, Jarmond has the exuberance of youth, with a reputation as a fundraiser and somone who can get the job done. “The more I learned about Boston College and the opportunity and what’s going on–this momentum, this period, I was like, I need to be part of that. I want to lead and be the difference masker I think I can be for Boston College,” said Jarmond when he was hired in April.
What Jarmond has never done is be the head guy, the person where the final decision rests. He also came from two schools where most things he asked for in terms of budget or direction were granted.
BC is not Ohio State. BC is not Michigan State. What Bates learned–sometimes painfully and unexpectedly–is that the driving force at BC is inertia. It takes effort, patience and time to get anything moving at The Heights. There are pot holes in the highway that Jarmond is now traveling that he has no idea even exist.
Some challenges are obvious. Both Addazio, who is now beginning his 5th season as the football coach and men’s basketball coach Jim Christian are in precarious situations. BC must improve significantly in both sports to ensure that both men will be retained, even though they have years left on their contracts.
Jarmond will use the 2017 football season and the 2017-18 basketball season to evaluate the status of each program and the progress he feels is being made.
Jarmond must also do something–anything–to increase a fan base which has shrunk steadily over the past several years.
In both football and basketball, BC has reached the stage of irrelevancy, which is the lowest and most dreaded marker in the evaluation process.
It is one thing to be be mediocre if there is still a fan base that gets upset by what is not happening on the field or on the court.
But outside of a small circle of hard corps supporters in both sports, it is hard to find a pulse at The Heights.
One of the reasons Jarmond was hired is because of his fundraising skills. But let’s get real here. How difficult is it to fundraise at Ohio State, where Big Ten titles and national championships are part of the pre-season chatter, as compared to BC, where qualifying for the post season is a long shot goal and even a Quixotic quest in some instances.
It is just the first week of summer and the living at BC is now easy, with a casual pace, but there are signs of life at The Heights and that is very much a good thing.