Thursday, December 10, 2020

BC decides not to go bowling


Dating back to TOB, BC placed importance on being "bowl eligible." The emphasis always seemed like a hedge for the day when BC was eligible yet not selected due to our travel reputation. This year BC is once again "bowl eligible" but for the first time ever decided to skip the postseason and call it a day. 

I personally am disappointed because I would have gladly watched the game from the comfort of my home surrounded by my family, basking in the afterglow of Christmas. I am not the one who would have crammed in game prep with exams and then missed Christmas with my family for a random game in Tampa on December 26. And that bowl was the optimal choice at this point. BC could have been sent to Boca during exams or even Annapolis. 

In normal years and normal conditions bowls are a reward. The players get money, gifts and swag. The team travels for multiple days and is hosted by the city. None of that would have happened this year. It would have been like a normal road game -- fly in, play, fly out. The team -- which has been in isolation since June -- would carry out COVID protocols for another two weeks just for this TV game. And looming over any commitment is that the game could be cancelled at any minute if something breaks down with the host city, the opponent or even BC. Is that fair to the kids? Is that even fun?

All the bowls outside the playoffs are sort of pointless. I know from experience how hard it is to justify these games. Last year I had to give my family pep talks to stick out the rain delay in Birmingham. AJ Dillon wasn't there. Why were the Maloneys?

Maybe COVID and an expanded playoff will kill the minor bowls all together. I love the novelty of seeing BC play a random opponent in a strange city. I want the players to get paid (even if it is non-cash) and have an "experience." And as I always say, more BC Football is a good thing. But this year maybe more is not better. 2020 was a great year for BC Football. There was hope for the future and excitement in the present. Why ruin that memory, that feeling and that momentum for a pointless game that the players' don't want? They gave us their heart this year. We should give them their Christmas.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Haf full

As frustrating and disappointing it was to lose to Virginia Saturday, I was a bit surprised by the number of people online who are upset about the season. I am not. In fact, I think this season was a huge success.

Every transition is different. This was not like TOB to Jags or Jags to Spaz, where we had lots of staff carryover and kept whole units consistent. This was a whole refresh and more like the transition of Spaz to Addazio. We changed Offensive and Defensive philosophy. We found a new QB. We put transfers all over the field. And we installed all this new info without a full spring and with all sorts of new restrictions due to COVID.

While six wins seems too familiar to BC fans, you have to remember we exceeded the oddsmakers', computers' and media's expectations. This was also six wins out of 11 games and this was the first time we ever played 10 P5 schools in one season. This schedule doesn't even compare to any we've faced since Henning's second year (and even Henning had Temple and Rutgers on the schedule).

But beyond the win total and dealing with the pandemic, I loved how Hafley handled games. We saw comebacks. We saw aggressiveness. We saw an emotional passionate coach, but not one who was not a bully, loudmouth or a goof ball. 

Was it perfect? No. There were a few issues that have been well discussed. Some units that were supposed to have been our best and deepest (Oline and LBs) looked to have taken a step back. Was is position coaching or scheme or overestimating the talent on hand? I don't know. It will certainly be something to follow going forward. The penalties were also inexcusable. Hafley admits he doesn't mind aggressiveness that results in penalties. That's fine. But there were plenty that we purely stupid. He's got to find a way to cut down on those. He has shown the can instill discipline. Look how he handled COVIP protocols. Now he just needs to use those same tenets to make sure the players play smart.

But why I am more optimistic about Hafley than I've been about any first year coach in my time as a BC fan, is that he showed strengths in game management, game planning and program management. Those are the things that are so hard to improve. Too often coaches are stuck in their ways or old school thinking, or are just not good at that stuff.  The stuff he needs to fix -- position coaches, talent, depth. Those things are fixable. Never getting a feel for a game is not.

All of this is still speculative. Hafley might never be much more than Addazio. But I am betting otherwise. I think this season was just the start and I see more great things to come. 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Game Day Info: Virginia

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Low 50s with no chance to rain.

Radio: SiriusXM 382

TV: Regional sports networks. Here are the affiliates.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

BC-Virginia preview

As everyone else's season devolves into chaos, controversy and cancellations, our season is just...ending. We are playing an afternoon game against a .500 Virginia team with very little at stake. But it is still an opportunity. Another win is another statement. I also think that the unknown bowl situation does add a little juice to the matchup. This might be BC's last game. It would be important for all to end on a high note.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There has been a lot of chatter about BC's bowl prospects given that the lower tier bowls are cancelling seemingly every day. The picture is also complicated by the one time rule that all teams are eligible regardless of record or games played. These sort of nebulous circumstances never go our way. Yet I remain hopeful. Ticket sales and travel are less of an issue this year. TV ratings rule and we are a proven TV draw. In the end I think a win over Virginia assures a bowl bid. A loss hurts, but is not crushing. I think ESPN and the ACC will put a lot of pressure on our bowl partners and someone will take us.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stay aggressive in the passing game. With Jurk not at 100% or with Grosel potentially getting time, there is the temptation to play conservatively. That is not a good idea. We are at our best when we are going deep and passing early. UVA has been burned in the passing game. I imagine Zay and CJ could do damage against their secondary.
2. Keep the running game simple. The zones and stretches looked good against Louisville. Keep doing that. It will also help the play action.
3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. While not as careless as Louisville, Virginia will cough up the ball. We have to be looking for it and also get back to stripping the ball whenever we can.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the series 6-0
-- Hafley is 2-2 on the road
-- Mendenhall is 17-22 in ACC play
The current line is BC+4

Mendenhall's first game as a head coach was vs BC.

Scoreboard Watching
Nothing really impacts us at this point. I guess you could argue that it would help the ACC to have both Notre Dame and Clemson win, so they enter the ACC Championship game with one combined loss and in the driver seat for playoff spots. But at this point I am rooting for Clemson to destroy the Irish. This isn't some bitter BC fan mad at our rivals. It is more about the ACC bailing out Notre Dame and then springboarding the Irish into the playoffs. They are good. But what does the ACC get out of this if Notre Dame wins it all? (ND hosts Cuse and Clemson is at VT.)

I hope to see...that BC is so far ahead that they can empty the bench and get all of the walkons and freshman on the field at some point. Without having cupcakes on the schedule and by playing mostly close games, there hasn't been extended time for all the guys in the program. Hopefully it comes this weekend.

BC is in trouble if...we can't get QB pressure. I was fooled. When our front four destroyed Duke, I thought they were going to be pleasant surprise. Since that game they have been Ok to bad (depending on the game). We need to get pressure this week and we need it to start up front.

I am still surprised Virginia is favored. I know Virginia comes in relatively hot. They are at home. Our QB health is a big question mark. But I still think our passing game is enough to score plenty of them. I think, like last week, we also force a few turnovers and hold on in the end.
Final Score: BC 35, Virginia 27

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Game Day Info: Louisville

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Cold and crisp

Radio: SiriusXM 193

TV: The ACC Network.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

BC-Louisville preview

While BC has done everything right during the pandemic, this is the first true test of BC and Hafley's ability to juggle and change. This game was on, then rescheduled, then back on again but with a different time and date. In theory it should not be a big deal. The team had more than enough time to turn it back on mentally, but you never know. These are still young, immature players in an unprecedented time.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There is lots of talk about BC's future uniform and shoe deal. If you don't follow this, Under Armour started breaking their current college deals and are not renewing others. It seems highly unlikely they will renew the BC deal and there is plenty of talk that the current deal might be cut short. Is this part of the college sports revenue model reset? Who knows? But taking one major bidder out of the process ultimately makes any deal (including BC's) less valuable. Hopefully Pat Kraft can make a deal that keeps the revenue close to its current levels. What I really hope for is that whatever partner we select, we see an improvement in the selection and options for BC merchandise. I also wouldn't mind seeing BC increase its presence with all potential licencing partners.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stop the run. Louisville's passing game is not particularly consistent. If we stop their run, we will control the tempo and probably keep them from scoring much.
2. Big plays from Zay. Louisville's D is ok. We probably can't chip away at them, so it will be up to get some big plays, which means Zay needs to break a few.
3. Aggressive game management. Hafley made some gutsy calls against Clemson and Notre Dame. We've been off two weeks and are coming off a loss. I think a few big plays could help the momentum and the confidence of the team.

Gambling Notes
-- Louisville leads the series 7-5
-- BC is 3-0 against the spread vs Louisville the last three years
-- Satterfield is 7-8 in ACC play
The current line is BC-1

This is technically Senior Day, but obviously no parents this year.

Scoreboard Watching
If Notre Dame beats UNC, they are probably headed to the ACC Championship Game. I know none of us want to see the Irish do well, but if they go undefeated in the regular season and then lose to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, both teams will likely make the playoffs. Two ACC playoff teams is good for the entire conference.

I hope to see...Jurkovec healthy. As we now know, he separated his shoulder towards the end of the Clemson game and that effected his accuracy against Cuse and Notre Dame. We need him healthy for this game and for the season finale.

BC is in trouble if...we turn the ball over. Louisville is somewhat sloppy. If we just play our usual game, we should get turnovers. We can't help them out by giving any back.

Despite the layoff and the close point spread, I think this is a good matchup for us. I don't think they can score with us and think we will be opportunistic enough to get a few turnovers. If Jurk is truly healthy, this isn't even close.
Final Score: BC 31, Louisville 21

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Numerous questions heading into the BC Men's Basketball season

The pandemic saved Jim Christian's job. Instead of using the first few days after the ACC Tournament to finalize a decision and set the course for a new hire, the College Basketball world shutdown and the whole college industry followed shortly thereafter. Despite a strong desire from some, BC leadership decided times and finances were too uncertain and decided to keep Christian around for another season. If someone had come in to cover the expense of a coaching change like Wake Forest did, would BC had made a move? Maybe. If an A List coach like John Beilein had real interest, would BC have made a move? Maybe. But those are just "what if"s. Jim Christian is back and our new AD Pat Kraft has to evaluate what he has done and where the program is heading...all while both men try to navigate the uncertainty of another COVID season.

What's new?

Christian primarily rebuilt the roster with various bodies from mid-majors. This gives him depth and versatility. While all the guys would be contributors on mid-level ACC teams, none are program changers. The big new name freshman is DeMarr Langford Jr (his brother Makai Ashton-Langford is one of the transfers mentioned). Langford could be the type of piece that makes a difference. He's local, his father is connected on the AAU scene and he has enough upside to tantalize any ACC team. BC needs Langford Jr to succeed and then find a New England player like him every year.

What can we expect out of Tabbs?

Aside from the transfers and recruits, Wynston Tabbs is another talent infusion. The challenge is no one knows what to expect. Will he be the player he was two years ago? Can he be better? All the gossip has been good. Now we just need to see it on the court and pray he stays healthy.

What are the expectations for the season?

The basketball world expects very little of BC this year. We were picked 14th in the ACC preseason poll. Kenpom has BC as 86th. ESPN's BPI has BC at 87th.  Bracketology has BC out of the tournament. No one expects BC to do anything this year. I guess that helps, in that a .500 year in ACC play might be a good storyline. 

How does COVID factor into the season?

No fans will be at home games (but that doesn't feel new). Any outbreaks will create schedule changes. BC elected to play in a preseason bubble which means we have our toughest non-conference slate in years.

What does Christian have to do to keep his job?

I have no idea and anyone who claims they know is speculating. Pat Kraft worked at a series of basketball schools in Loyola-Chicago, Indiana and Temple. He knows basketball can make a difference to an Athletic Department and University. Kraft has a front row seat to the energy and excitement Hafley brought to the football team. Regardless of some institutional issues, BC Basketball remains an underperforming source of revenue and a missed opportunity to promote the school and engage the alumni. A coaching change can make a difference. Even the Women's program showed that things can get better prior to a new arena or practice facility. 

But regardless of all the reasons there might be to make a change and all the underachieving prior to this year, no one knows what BC can afford. Revenue is down in all areas, including Athletics. I have no idea if BC leadership will have an appetite to make a change this year, especially if Christian and crew exceed the low, low expectations for the year.