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McGair: Frank Spaziani on JoePa, O'Brien, BC's strong Super Bowl presence; Tamburro, Boggs should go into I.L. HOF together

February 1, 2012

Sports writer

A little of this, a little of that …

– After our discussion pertaining to Will Blackmon on Tuesday – you can read the story here by clicking – I asked Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani to share some thoughts about recently deceased Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. According to his bio on Wikipedia, Spaziani played quarterback and linebacker for the Nittany Lions from 1965-68 before becoming a graduate assistant under Paterno for one season in 1969.
Spaziani relayed that he was the last Penn State player Paterno recruited while holding the title of assistant coach under Rip Engle. Again we turn to Wikipedia, which noted that Paterno began his nearly 46-year head coaching tenure at State College, Pa. in 1966.
“As anybody who watched his memorial service and listened to all the eulogies, that kind of summed it up,” Spaziani reflected. “Everybody learned a lot of things from Joe and I was no different. He was a great mentor.
“Everybody is proud of their alma mater and certainly when you have one that’s accomplished the things Penn State has, you can beat your chest a little bit about what was going on,” Spaziani continued. “I consider myself very lucky to have the experience I did.”

– Spaziani also touched upon what awaits Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who faces the unenviable task of succeeding Paterno while trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that has made it anything but business as usual at Penn State.
“Six months ago that was a destination job for most coaches in the country. It still is,” said Spaziani, his words revealing just how deep his admiration for his school runs. “It has great tradition and great fans … they’ve got a lot of things going for them. Billy O’Brien will do just fine.”

– You can’t say that BC isn’t spreading its wings in Indianapolis this week with six ex-Eagle players appearing on either the Patriots’ roster or the Giants’ roster. Joining Blackmon on Big Blue is linebacker Mark Herzlich, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and guard Chris Snee. Defensive end Ron Brace and center Dan Koppen are New England teammates (Koppen is presently on injured reserve).
With Wednesday marking National Signing Day, Spaziani was asked about the buzz a program can generate on the recruiting front when making reference to such a strong presence in the professional ranks.
“You’re in the media. It’s all about publicity,” Spaziani said, cutting right to the chase. “Publicity is good. Good publicity is even better.
“It says a lot about the school and certainly helps us out,” Spaziani went on. “There’s going to be millions of people listening and reading about this, so it can only help.”

– Switching to baseball, it would be nice to see Wade Boggs and Mike Tamburro share the spotlight when the time comes later this year for the pair to get officially inducted into the International League Hall of Fame. Boggs was elected last year but has yet to receive recognition via ceremony. Meanwhile plans are already underway at McCoy Stadium to commemorate Tamburro, the longtime president of the Pawtucket Red Sox who received his “Call to the Hall” on Tuesday. (Read here at
Tamburro and Boggs have a history that dates back to 1976 when Boggs played for the Elmira (N.Y.) Pioneers and Tamburro was a front office fixture. At the time Elmira was a Class-A affiliate for the Red Sox, competing in the New York-Penn League.
In keeping with the theme of when Ben Mondor, Joe Morgan and Jim Rice went into the I.L. Hall of Fame together in 2008, the idea of Tamburro and Boggs taking the stage simultaneously makes a lot of sense.

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