BOSTON - The man who fired Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing with the New York Jets called Wednesday the hardest day in his 12 years as Boston College’s athletic director.
Athletic director Gene DeFilippo declined to speculate during a 20-minute news conference — at which he said “I love Jags” — if the coach preferred the technical, Xs-and-Os job of an NFL coach to the college job with its recruiting and glad-handing of supporters.
He seemed to choke back tears as he discussed his decision to fire Jagodzinski over “a difference of vision for the future.”
“I really don’t know” if he preferred the pro game, DeFilippo said. “You would have to ask Jeff that.”
Two players praised the coach and agreed with DeFilippo.
“If there were any indications, we didn’t see it,” said junior Mark Herzlich, one of the nation’s top linebackers.
Tight end Ryan Purvis didn’t either during Jagodzinski’s two seasons at BC.
“I thought it was the opposite,” said Purvis, taking a break from his West Coast workouts for the NFL draft combine Feb. 18-24. “I thought he preferred the college game. He really enjoyed the team aspect of it. The next level is more like a business.”
Jagodzinski wasn’t talking.
A phone number listed for his home had been disconnected and he did not immediately return a call for comment left on his cell phone.
“I am so proud of what these students-athletes and our staff have accomplished during our tenure here,” Jagodzinski said in a statement released by the school. “I wish everyone at Boston College the best in the years to come, both on and off the field.”
He went through with his interview for the Jets head coaching job Tuesday even though DeFilippo told him three days earlier that he would be fired if he did. The job came open with the firing of Eric Mangini.
Jagodzinski, 45, had three years left on the five-year contract he signed for his first head coaching job after serving as an assistant for the previous eight years in the NFL and another 14 in college. He took BC to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game twice, losing both to Virginia Tech. The Eagles were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in 2007 and were a combined 20-8 under Jagodzinski.
“Coach Jags has been a great coach,” Herzlich said in a phone interview. “He’s really brought a lot to our team and brought enthusiasm that we’ve played off of.”
But his departure “really doesn’t affect my decision” about whether to return for his senior season and play for his third coach in four years. He said he expects to announce this week that he will be back, cooling speculation he might enter the NFL draft.
DeFilippo doesn’t think Jagodzinski’s departure late in the recruiting period will weaken the incoming class.
Jagodzinski was fired “without cause,” DeFilippo said, an indication that his contact with the Jets did not violate his contract and that he would receive at least some money remaining on his deal.
DeFilippo hired Jagodzinski, who spent one year as offensive coordinator with Green Bay in 2006, despite a preference by alumni for Mark Whipple, now an offensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles. That may have sharpened the sting of Jagodzinski’s search for a pro position.
“We’re really good friends and this is a very difficult thing to do,” DeFilippo, appearing despondent, said. “We will find somebody who really wants to be at Boston College and will be here for the length of their contract.”
He also was upset that Jagodzinski had been in touch with the Jets without telling him and that the threat to fire him, made Saturday, became public.
Said Purvis: “That seems so un-BC-like to have everything out in public.”
Jagodzinski was Jets quarterback Brett Favre’s offensive coordinator in Green Bay, a connection Purvis felt influenced Jagodzinski to talk with the team.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“It was a (good) fit,” Purvis said. “You can’t blame the guy for wanting to give it a go.”
DeFilippo plans to name an interim coach soon and interview at least two candidates from outside BC but will talk first with any current assistants who are interested. Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani and assistant head coach Jack Bicknell Jr. could be in that group.
DeFilippo repeatedly said he wants a coach who will serve out his contract and thought he could find an outstanding candidate who wouldn’t use the job as a steppingstone.
“I wish this day would end and get over,” DeFilippo said. “Then we can begin to look for the next head football coach here at Boston College.”
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick he wishes he was spoken to in private prior to the insults.
Boston College coach fired
Jan. 7: BC athletic director Gene DiFilippo says he's still friends with Jeff Jagodzinski despite the coach's removal following an interview with the New York Jets.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
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