Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reflections on Ted Spencer

Now that the dust has settled and reality is beginning to kick in, here's a few things that have been kicking around in my head over the past 24 hours about Ted Spencer and his new position at FU:

  • I can't say that this is bizarre timing given the end of his contract, coupled with the realignment of Men's Lacrosse divisions, especially the ECAC. The Stags have been overly unimpressive since moving into the division in 2006, finishing with a cumulative 8-13 conference record no higher than tied for fourth overall. Maybe Doris and Co. felt a change was needed to take "the next step".
  • 13 seasons is an awfully long time for anyone to be a head coach at one school. Dianne Nolan and the Coach K's and Jim Calhouns of the world aside, Spencer should be considered a tenured and successful face of the program.
  • Spencer's coaching career was a remarkable run that will be remembered as a watershed moment for Fairfield Athletics. Before Spencer, Fairfield lax was an infant; today, its a national powerhouse. That alone is his legacy, and he earned every bit of it.
  • Did the game pass him by? Doubtful, but sometimes a new voice is needed. I can remember sitting in the stands with Tom Cleary (we used to sit in the parents section for a different angle) late last season and hearing a few voices of displeasure at the team's offensive schemes against the Loyola zone defense. Some of that was probably due to the five freshman on the field on offense, but it's possible coaching had something to do with it.
  • Favorite Spencer story: Coach and I would talk about once a week in his office during lax season about the team, upcoming games, and other random stuff. He was really a genuinely great guy who would love to sit down and talk about his passion. Anyway, one day my freshman year I made the mistake of wearing a 'WE ARE ND' green shirt to his office (I'm a big Irish football fan. I know, I know...) I could tell he noticed - he kept glancing at it the entire interview. Finally, at the end of our talk, he stopped me as I walked out and pointed to a picture of the game winning goal in South Bend from back in 2002. "Greatest game of my career," he said with a huge smile. "Remember now, Keith, you're a Stag now," he threw in for good measure. It was the first time I really fell apart of the Fairfield family.
  • For those who were unhappy with the team's progress (see above about Loyola game), than maybe this move is a necessary evil. But you have to say this about Spencer: even in the face of an expiring contract and after a comeback from cancer, he still had the presence of mind to begin a youth movement and turn to a talented freshman class last year. It must've been challenging - imagine that conversation with Matt Scanlon or Chris Atwell - but he did not shy away from going young on the field (especially on offense). Whoever inherits this team gets some fantastic underclassmen and (from what I'm hearing) another impressive incoming group.

Which brings me to my next topic: Who is next in line?

More to come.

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