Everything was on hold in the Boston College athletic offices yesterday as school officials waited for confirmation that football coach Jeff Jagodzinski was interviewing with the New York Jets - something they told him would lead to his termination. And while there was no confirmation of an interview, BC officials made it clear that Jagodzinski's tenure could indeed be coming to an end even if he doesn't talk to the Jets.
Despite the warnings, Jagodzinski was expected to meet with Jets officials late last night or early this morning about filling the vacancy created when head coach Eric Mangini was fired last week.
Although there have been reports that a clause in Jagodzinski's contract prohibited any contact with NFL teams for three years - Jagodzinski is in the second year of a five-year deal, with a total package worth more than $1 million per year - sources at BC said yesterday that no such clause existed, although there was an understanding that Jagodzinski would refrain from seeking other jobs for at least three years.
The crux of the issue was not the contract, but the failure of Jagodzinski to inform BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo that contact had been made. DeFilippo learned of the contact between the Jets and Jagodzinski Saturday afternoon when a reporter asked him about it.
DeFilippo had asked Jagodzinski earlier about the matter and was told that reports of a scheduled meeting were false.
An athletic director who has dealt with contact between professional teams and his coaches said, "Making contact with the NFL is not a big deal. If you are good, it happens all the time. We deal with it. Just as long as I know about it, it's not a problem."
When told that Jagodzinski had not told DeFilippo about his plans to meet with the Jets, the athletic director paused and said, "That's different. I would have a big problem with that."
As of late yesterday afternoon, DeFilippo had not talked to his football coach since Sunday, when he expressed his disappointment and anger at not being told the truth and informed Jagodzinski that if he proceeded with the meeting, his job would be at risk.
Even if Jagodzinski cancels the interview, DeFilippo feels that the issue of trust has been breached, which would make it difficult for Jagodzinski to return.
If BC does fire Jagodzinski - and the odds seemed heavily in favor of that happening - it is expected that the position would quickly be filled with an internal hire. There was early speculation that offensive coordinator Steve Logan was the front-runner, but defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani has emerged as an even stronger contender.
Spaziani, who has been at BC for 12 years, was a finalist for the job two years ago when Tom O'Brien left to take the head coaching job at North Carolina State. Spaziani could provide the stability that DeFilippo wants for the program.
"I think Jeff Jagodzinski did a great job here," said DeFilippo. "But I want a person who wants to be at Boston College and who wants to stay here a long, long time. I thought I had that person."
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org