Sunday, May 05, 2019

More than sports

The BC Sports community lost two of their most beloved members this weekend in Andy Jick and Marie Grip. 

If you are reading this blog, you've probably read BC message boards or BC Twitter and know Marie Grip as Dixie Eagle. Like myself, she was a BC grad married to a BC grad living in the South. She reached out to me very early on in the blog and has been a great voice of reason for me and others for years. She was a realist without being a pessimist, someone who could be empathetic but also critical, all why showing a great sense of humor and grace. That's a tough combination to pull off online. And for those who did get to know her through BC, she was very genuine. As I tweeted, I never met her in person, but feel I knew her well. Putting so much time into sports and the subcommunities around them doesn't really make sense if you step back. The time, the money, the emotion...even in at its best is fleating. Yet those moments you do get and get to share with interesting people, make it worthwile. There was more to Marie than BC sports, but I am glad I got to know her through BC sports.

Although I met Andy Jick when I was a student, I didn't know him like I knew Marie. Jick has been part of the fabric of BC sports for two decades as the PA announcer for basketball and other sports. With his passing, numerous tributes went up online about his character and kindness. He will be missed and hard to replace.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Fenway finally gets a bowl


For the longest time, I've argued that BC and the Red Sox should spearhead a bowl at Fenway. Now it is finally a real thing. The first yet to be named bowl will kick off in December 2020 and feature an ACC team and an AAC team. You might as well just call this game the BC bowl because we will be in it more than any other team...and I am okay with that.

The reason I am okay with BC playing in a freezing bowl, down the street from campus is because the whole bowl season is a farce. These are glorified exhibitions that ESPN gets on the cheap during the holidays, propped up by sponsors and corrupt bowl committees. While the playoff is an improvement, the bowl season is still a mess and further and further from a meritocracy than it was 20 or 30 years ago. While every ten years or so BC lines up a decent opponent, in a somewhat desirable destination where our fans will buy tickets (NYC, Orlando, San Fran), most of the time we are in places and games that no one cares about. Heck the most interesting moment of Addazio bowl era was our game in an empty Cotton Bowl getting cancelled.

The allure of playing at Fenway is diminished, but we have history in the park. We won't get treated as second class citizens and some BC fans will actually get to attend the game. That is all good. If you view these things as made for TV events, the weather and location matters even less.

So welcome to the party Red Sox. Now let's get back to winning bowl games.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Allen, Harris highlight unique second day for NFL Draft

The good news for BC is that two more players were drafted on the second day of the NFL Draft. The unfortunate news is that both were in the 3rd Round instead of the 2nd. But both highlight how expectations and fortunes change based on a player's history and NFL team needs.

A year ago most thought Zach Allen would be a first round draft pick. He followed with a strong enough Senior Season to keep him in the discussion. However, his draft process did not help his cause. Whether it was his measurables or concerns about being too slow for DE but too small for DT, Allen fell out of the first round. Then out of the second. Finally the Cardinals took him and may end up with a steal. Allen did grade out very high for his actual game play. But aside from the contract, none of it really matters. What matters is that Allen gets his shot and is in the NFL. He will have plenty of chances to make those that passed on him regret it.

The Lions selected Will Harris in the 3rd round too. The most interesting thing about his selection to me is that Lions DC Paul Pasqualoni finally got a BC guy on his team. I have been shocked and disappointed that Coach P didn't take any BC guys last year (especially when Landry was there) and then this year passed on Allen. He was their position coach and more than anything should know what they are capable of doing in the NFL. Taking Harris is an endorsement of BC and hopefully a sign that he was going to bat for his former players and was just being overruled.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Yet another Eagle in Atlanta

11 years ago, the Falcons changed their franchise by selecting Matt Ryan in the First Round. He will retire with every Falcon record imaginable. If he is going to be a Hall of Famer, he will probably need four or five more years of elite play. A key component to the final stretch of his career will be a fellow BC guy Chris Lindstrom, who the Falcons selected with the 14th pick.

Lindstrom's story is a good one for BC. He was a solid, local recruit, who BC identified and closed early. He got good coaching and got better every year. Lindstrom also deserves a lot of credit for his work the past 12 months. He shot up draft boards with his senior year, great week at the Senior Bowl, strong combine and good workouts.

On a personal note, I am giddy. Matt changed what it was like being a BC fan here in Georgia. Adding another critical piece from BC will make all their success in the next few years that much better. And I think Lindstrom will be a difference maker here. The Falcons line has been bad since Shannahan left. Lindstrom will give Matt more time.

Congrats to Lindstrom. Congrats to the BC staff for getting him here. Go BC. Go Falcons.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Lessons for BC from the UVA win

Like Clemson in Football, UVA's basketball win is a reminder that BC is in the right conference and championship success is possible. You could argue that UVA's basketball history is superior to BC's (I would disagree) but they were a traditionally underachieving/middle of the pack ACC team when Bennett was hired. (Bennett was only hired one year before we hired Donahue.) We are not that far off. Here are some lessons from UVA.

Invest in facilities
Before they hired Bennett, UVA built a state of the art arena for basketball. BC doesn't need to duplicate John Paul Jones Arena's capacity, but could and should duplicate all the bells and whistles and of course practice venues and locker rooms.

Find the right coach who has the right system
Bennett's critics would argue he is all system (his dad's pack line D), but it has served him well at two Power 5 stops. His teams are always among the best defenses in college basketball. When things were at their best at BC -- Davis, Williams, Skinner -- we had a clear system in one of both ends of the court.  The benefit of having something, anything that you can turn to (2-3, flex, packline, havoc) is that you can plug in players year to year and you focus on executing instead of just trying to match your opponent possession to possession. If you are at a talent disadvantage a system can be an equalizer. With the right coach, superior talent and the right system, you can blow most of your opponents away.

You need good recruits, but not the best
This is a good summation of how both Virginia and Texas Tech did this without elite recruits. With one and dones on the way out, finding the right guys and developing them is going to become all that more important.

We've seen Clemson down. We've seen UVA down. Now both are on top. That should motivate and inspire BC fans and hopefully BC leadership.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

KofiMania

I know plenty of you don't know or care about professional wrestling. That doesn't matter. What you need to know is that at the biggest wrestling event of the year -- Wrestlemania -- a BC guy -- Kofi Kingston -- won the WWE Championship.

Pro wrestling is not a real sport, but becoming champion is about hard work, charisma, athleticism, and getting people to believe in you. Kofi put in many years and represents himself, Boston College and the WWE with passion, integrity and humor. Congrats to him on reaching his goal. Ever to excel.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

What to make of the Spring Game


BC held its annual Jay McGillis Spring Game Saturday. I think we all know we can't read much if anything into the game. Throw in the Offense vs Defense, injury holdouts, and no tackling format and the value becomes even more questionable. So it begs the question, why doesn't BC do more to turn it into a truly unique event? Here are just a few ideas:

Instead of playing in a nearly empty Alumni, why not move it into the Field House. Fans can feel closer. Recruits will see our best facility and it will feel more intimate. 

Allow select fans to call plays or be in the huddle or on a head set. 

Create fan experiences/contests for breaks in the action (field goal attempts, races, throwing into a hole, etc).

I understand this is a nice day for the fans and kids who do attend, but at what point does BC try to make it a bigger event? That's not going to happen with the current style of football or the unique game set up. It will have to be by making the game more desirable to fans and a clearly separate experience from the typical Alumni game. 

As for Saturday's actual game, the highlights are above.