Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The underlying importance of the John Beilein talk

Numerous reports this week have stated that the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Beilein are working on an exit agreement. It sounds like he is quitting but also getting paid, so maybe it is more mutual than the initial "Beilein is walking away" speculation. Regardless of how it happens, the minute Beilein is free, he instantly becomes the biggest free agent in college basketball. And with his name looming comes the media list of landing spots including Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Wake and...Boston College. Now anyone reading this probably already thinks Beilein to BC will never happen. It doesn't matter if he would consider BC or laugh it off. What matters is two fold:

1. The College Hoops media (and agents feeding them gossip) assume the BC job is coming open.
2. Outside of Texas, there are fewer great jobs certainly opening. This would be a good time for BC to make a hire since we won't be competing for our candidate with many other power programs.

I find this encouraging. I remain firmly in the fire Jim Christian camp. Even if he has a strong finish (for him) to this season, I think we've seen his best and should move on after six years. Regardless of John Beilein's availability, change is needed.  

Could Beilein end up at BC? Sure. Stranger things have happened. He graduated from a Jesuit college. He supposedly prefers a program focused on development and teaching and not recruiting one and dones. BC offers access to a major conference, a decent returning roster and plenty of patience. The expectations are much lower than a Texas. If the 67 year old guy just wants to coach again, BC offers him a chance to do it away from the spotlight yet with access to media and the NCAA tournament.

Beilein doesn't fit the mold of the other hires Jarmond has made, but getting this type of coach might make him adjust. I don't know if money will be an issue. The current rumor is Beilein will get $12 million from Cleveland, so a big pay day from BC might not be needed.

There is also a chance that Beilein is done. The man is 67, left one of the best situations in his sport at Michigan and clearly wasn't enjoying coaching in the NBA. Maybe this is it.  But the fact that BC is even being connected to him is good news for frustrated BC basketball fans.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

It is not about one game

BC hung with Duke for 35 minutes and then let it slip away late. What was frustrating and tantalizing during the back and forth is that Conte was rocking and the team was getting by without playing their "A" game. But we are well past the "it was close" stage of the Jim Christian era.

I didn't post during basketball's most recent win streak. There were good games and good moments. Beating UVA and UNC -- even when they are down -- is still worth noting. I am glad for the progress, but it is not enough. When evaluating where we are and where were are going, I look at the entirety of the JC era.

I like the wins and root for the team, but I am not going to backslide on my stance. I hope BC finishes strong. I also hope that like in Football, a strong finish doesn't change the ultimate decision.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Reaction to the 2020 Schedule

The ACC finally released their football schedules Wednesday. Here is BC's:

9/4 -- Syracuse (Friday game)
9/12 -- Ohio
9/19 -- at Kansas
9/26 -- Purdue
10/2 -- Clemson (Friday game)
10/10 -- Louisville
10/22 -- at Virginia Tech (Thursday game)
10/31 -- Holy Cross
11/7 -- at NC State
11/14 -- at Florida State
11/21 -- North Carolina
11/28 -- at Wake Forest

While we knew the opponents prior to Wednesday, the dates and days of the schedule were not known. I would say the fan reaction was mixed. I really liked the set up, but I am not a season ticket holder, so some of the quirks don't impact me. Here are my thoughts:

Things I like:
-- I like starting the season against Syracuse on a Friday during a holiday weekend. While it might hurt attendance a bit, we should get a decent TV slot. I also think starting with a conference game is a great tool to motivate and focus the team throughout the offseason.
-- Thursday night football is not what it once was due to the NFL taking the night as their own. But it is still a spotlight timeslot and we have a long history of playing Virginia Tech on Thursday nights.
-- I am glad they moved the Holy Cross game. Usually we play our FCS opponents earlier in the season. With this being Hafley's first year, I think placing a easy game late in the year will offer him and the team a chance to reboot and reset, especially if things have been rocky.
-- I like avoiding a Thanksgiving weekend home game. There are numerous reasons why it doesn't work. I know BC can't avoid it every year, but any time you can it is god news.

Things I dislike:
-- Three non-Saturday game days. With my personal schedule it actually helps, but in my opinion BC gives up too much in this scenario. Saturday remains the anchor of the college football world. While there are advantages to the occasional odd game, it will always be better to play on a Saturday (for fans and players). TV drives this, but BC needs to put up more of a fight.
-- Lack of November home games. Games in September are great for weather and fans. But we give up any home field advantage the cold New England weather might bring. I also think spreading the games out a bit makes it easier on your season ticket holders.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How is this not a coaching issue?

Basketball got walloped in the Carrier Dome by Syracuse Wednesday night. The Jim Christian apologists were a little more subdued, but how can anyone not put this on the coaching staff? Every argument leads that way...

1. The talent is young and raw...debatable, but it is the staff's job to shape them and cover up their deficiencies.

2. The talent is not doing what the staff is implementing...then this is a problem and the coaching staff is failing to get them to either buy in or understand what they need to do.

3. The talent is not good...who recruited them?

Now there are other defenses of Christian not specifically related to this game.

1. There are institutional issues with BC Basketball that no one could overcome...I think BC Basketball needs more institutional support, but the severity of the job's handicap is debatable. Could another coach overcome BC's issues? Who knows. But we do know one coach who can't.

2. A change is not worth destabilizing recruiting...In my opinion it is worth the risk. The right new coach has a shot at holding the recruits, plus Christian has shown the best he can do with elite talent is an early exit from the NIT.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hafley wins...so does LSU

It would have been nice for BC and the ACC if Clemson had won the National Championship but LSU pulled away in a long and disappointing game. For BC fans the real story of the game was Jeff Hafley's work in ESPN's Coaches' Film Room. Our new coach shined.

Despite being the junior guy in the room, Hafley showed no fear and talked shop throughout. He was very knowledgeable without being geeky or coming off like a know it all. He slipped in a little humor and understood when to defer to his peers. For a new guy and someone who hasn't done much TV, he was a natural.

As much as I would like to say these skills translate into winning football, remember that his predecessor was good in the Film Room too. But Hafley was very different from Addazio. Where Addazio came off as booming and liked to talk about the trenches, Hafley showed a little more depth and a lot more nuance. He will be a welcome change.

Congrats to the Coach. Hopefully he will be in this game one day and other coaches will be talking about him.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Hafley lands his first major transfer and has his QB

Jeff Hafley doesn't even have his full staff assembled, but it looks like he already has his QB. Multiple reports confirmed that Notre Dame Quarterback Phil Jurkovec is transferring to BC. The western Pennsylvania dual-threat was a four star QB out of high school and would be one of the highest ranked players to ever come to the Heights. While at Notre Dame, he served as Ian Book's backup and saw limited time in mop up duty.

The questions regarding Jurkovec are how much eligibility does he have and when can he play. The consensus seems to be he has three years of playing time left. As for eligibility, he is not yet a graduate, but is supposedly close to finishing his degree. There are also rumblings that BC will apply for a waiver to play immediately. (The recent trend among QBs is to allow them to play right away.)

In the past there was a certain stigma to transfer QBs. The idea was these guys weren't good enough to play at School A so why should they be good enough at School B. But we saw through Tyler Murphy and Patrick Towles that transfer QBs can contribute right away and fill holes on your roster. I also think that elite QBs recruits jumping around is now common place. The last three Heisman winners were transfers and three of the four playoff teams started transfer QBs. 

Jurkovec hardly played at Notre Dame so it is tough for us to know what he really can do. His recruiting profile and athleticism show incredible potential. He has a close relationship with Cignetti so I think there is already an established trust and understanding of what's ahead and what Cignetti envisions. This is all great for BC.

Jurkovec's arrival probably pushes Anthony Brown one step further out the door. I imagine Grosel, Johnson and Valecce are all evaluating their place on the depth chart. If they are smart they would stay at least a season. Who knows what Jurkovec will do and who knows if he will stay healthy. 

Jurkovec could turn out to be BC's version of Joe Burrows or he could end up being just another guy. But right now -- one week into the Hafley era -- this feels like a great first step.

These clips of Jurkovec are as a prospect:

Some playing time for Notre Dame this season. (His time starts at 1:41).

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Big win for basketball

That's how you bounce back from the Duke drubbing. BC defeated defending champions UVA at home Tuesday night. And did so without Thorton or Pop. The young guys like Heath and Hamilton (and Hamilton) led the way and go some help from all down the stretch. Even with Virginia took the lead late, there were some big shots and equally big shots. BC is now 3-1 in the ACC. Congrats to all.