Friday, December 02, 2016

Rutgers returns to the schedule

BC agreed to a home and home series with Rutgers. Of course with the nature of college football, the series won't take place until 2026 and 2027. I know BC has to lock in games now and works hard to find the right type of Power 5 teams to play, but to me this is just being overly cautious. Scheduling Rutgers for a series three years from now would be smart scheduling. Scheduling Rutgers ten years from now -- over any and all possible College Football power -- is a missed opportunity.

As I've pointed out in many of these future scheduling discussions, it is highly likely that neither Addazio or Rutgers coach Chris Ash will be leading their respective teams in 2026. It is highly likely that Jim Harbaugh won't be coaching Michigan in 2026 and I doubt that 65 year-old Nick Saban will be coaching Alabama in 2026. Why not swing for the fences and schedule a really big name program? We don't know if we will catch them on a downswing. We don't know where BC will be. There is risk, but what's the worse thing that could happen? Two losses. But the upside, aside from two wins, is the positive perception that scheduling a power brings. You can sell it to recruits. You can sell it to fans. It is a sign that the current leaders of the program have faith in its future.

It is not like Addazio or Bates are going to be around to play this potential juggernaut. You would think they would want to leverage the positive short-term aspects of scheduling a power. I hope they see the big picture.

Other than scheduling a potential loss for the program, the only reason I can see BC avoiding super powers ten years from now would be the buyout clause. Perhaps Bates doesn't want to straddle the program with a seven figure buyout if BC's future coach doesn't want to play an Oklahoma or Texas.

I don't know. Maybe the whole landscape of college football will be so different in 2026 that playing Rutgers will not matter. Or maybe it will prove to be prudent. I just wish BC would take the occasional risk. We have nothing to lose.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Coaches on the road

There are many things to criticize Addazio for, but you can't complain about his willingness to hit the road and talk to recruits and coaches. Maybe it is Addazio's preference or maybe it is another example of emulating Urban Meyer, but the guy is out there. Many of his head coaching peers would be using this time to prep for a bowl or just catch their breath. Addazio's predecessor at BC was certainly not on the road this much.

Here are a few of the stops for Addazio (and based on social media, it seems like Washington, White, Campanile and Gunnell are also out on the road).




A photo posted by Elijah Brooks (@ebrooks784) on

The timing of all of this works well too. Addazio is out there selling "we're going bowling and things are just getting better." If you are reading this blog, you have watched more BC Football this season than most high school coaches. If you are reading this blog, you have probably watched more BC Football than most BC recruits. They just aren't paying attention like we do, so when the BC coaches show up smiling and talking about the big win, the recruits and high school coaches don't worry about the ugly losses earlier in the year. As we all know, perception still matters in college football.

Now some of Addazio's critics are think his recruiting has gone down as he's been at BC. I don't fault him in that area. While the third party rankings may not be as high, I do think there is more depth and overall talent each year. And hitting the road like he is should pay off this year and next.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Should BC roll the dice with another 5th Year QB?

Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire announced his plans to transfer. Since he is expected to graduate in a few weeks, he is eligible to play immediately next season. One place he won't be playing is Boston College. The Irish are able to block his transfer to BC since we play them next season. However, there will be other 5th years on the market. (Like Chase Rettig's younger brother.) Should BC try to get one more?

The Tyler Murphy experiment might be the best move Addazio made in four years at BC. He carried the team and provided some very memorable moments. Patrick Towles' year wasn't a flat out disaster -- we are going to a bowl -- but it was very disappointing. Unlike Murphy, Towles did not unlock his potential at BC and it feels like we wasted a year of developing someone else in exchange for a 6-6 season. (I would also argue the staff didn't do Towles any favors.) Hopefully Towles has an incredible bowl game and makes us feel like the year was worth it.

As for next year, the current QB depth chart would be some combination of Wade, Brown, Fadule, and incoming recruit EJ Perry. Only Wade and Fadule have started games and neither did much in their limited time. Addazio has spent a lot of time talking up Brown's upside, leaving me and others to wonder if he and the staff have already written off Wade.

The transfer question really depends on Wade. If he stays, I think BC should ignore 5th year QBs. Even if Brown isn't a game changer as a RsF, Wade can be serviceable enough as a backup or transition QB. If Wade leaves, BC needs to get a 5th year. Just for depth alone. Do you want to go into a season with just Brown, Fadule and Perry?

Addazio is safe for another season, but next year is also critical. There will be a new AD and plenty of pressure to win. If his QBs continue to struggle, Addazio probably won't survive. Because of that looming threat, my guess is he will bring in some QB as an insurance policy. Whoever comes in, let's hope he's more Murphy than Towles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Only one thing matters about the Bowl

BC won't officially know what bowl they'll be in until next Sunday. It could anywhere from El Paso to Detroit. Speculation on opponents has varied from traditional Power 5 teams to hot mid-majors. But really the who and the where of bowl season doesn't matter. BC's not going to an top tier bowl and very few BC fans are going to travel to whichever bowl picks BC. All that matters about this bowl is winning the game. That is why I am more concerned about the matchup, not the destination.

As silly as it seems, the difference between 7-6 and 6-7 is huge. BC needs that extra win to move this frustrating season into a winning season. That winning, however hollow, changes the perception of the season and perception still matters in college football. At 7-6, Addazio can spin 2015 as the bottoming out and sell this year at the first step in BC's ascension. If we lose the bowl game and finish 6-7, he can (and still probably will) spin the season as the first on the road back. But the message becomes less believable if BC has a losing record and loses in a bowl game.

To get that win, BC is probably best matched against a run-first, low scoring team. A team sort of like BC. Even our best wins -- Wake and NC State -- were not high scoring. I don't want BC in a shoot out.

I don't know where the players want to go, but I would like to see BC end up in Detroit. We have plenty of Midwest players who would love for their friends and relatives to come. Plus we still recruit Michigan and Ohio. Playing in a bowl nearby can help keep us top of mind for those players and their coaches.

So whenever BC plays, don't view it as a made up bowl. View it as a must win.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Selective stats and spin

Sometimes I think BC gets a little tone deaf to their most passionate fans. For example take the nugget that came out of Saturday that Addazio is "only the second BC coach to lead a team to a bowl in three of his first four seasons." The coach used it in his postgame and the school worked it into social media and game recaps. It is true, but it is also a bit hollow. 

Some of BC's best coaches haven't always coached at BC for four seasons. Since WWII, only seven men have coached at BC four or more consecutive seasons. Also the ever-expanding list of bowls makes most comparisons to the past a perfect "apples and oranges" problem. What if we just took a simpler, and perhaps more objective stat, like Wins and Losses during your first four seasons at BC? Look at the list below. Those are the seven guys I referenced above and their wins and losses during their first four seasons at BC. 
  • Mike Holovak's first four seasons: 20 -- 14 -- 2. Winning Percentage .583
  • Jim Miller's first four seasons: 26 -- 12. Winning Percentage .684
  • Joe Yukica's first four seasons: 28 -- 11. Winning Percentage .717
  • Jack Bicknell's first four seasons:  32 -- 14 -- 1. Winning Percentage .691
  • Tom O'Brien's first four seasons:  23 -- 23. Winning Percentage .500
  • Frank Spaziani's first four seasons: 21 -- 29.  Winning Percentage .420
  • Steve Addazio's first four seasons: 23 -- 27. Winning Percentage .460
Now when compared to these coaches, Addazio's first four years and three bowl appearances don't seem like such a huge coaching accomplishment. He did take over a mess of a program, but I would argue things were as messy for TOB. And I don't think the frustration with Addazio is how he handled the transition from Spaz. It is how he has struggled in Year 3 and Year 4 as the roster becomes his. 

I am not trying to be a complainer or whiner. I am glad we are going bowling. I am glad we won. And I do think Addazio deserves credit for keeping the team together when it could have fallen apart. But I don't think he or the BC staff should be trying to spin this to the fans. We have sat through the blowouts and the losses. We don't want to be told how great things have been. Instead just focus on winning the bowl and closing out the recruiting class. Then hopefully we will see real improvement next season. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wake Forest

It was nice to see many of you in person at the game. Thank you to those who took the time to say hello. As for seeing the game in person, two things stood out to me. First, I am going to sound like Addazio, but there were so many plays that were close to being big. There were holes that closed at just the last minute or guys who were in good position but ignored by Towles. Some of that is dumb luck, some is coaching. The second thing that really stood out is how much Addazio relies on Pasqualoni. When Wake ran into the kicker on the final drive, the refs came over to Addazio to find out if he wanted to kick again or decline the penalty. Daz called Pasqualoni over from 30 yards away to go through it with him. It actually makes me feel better. I didn't like their decision to decline it, but at least Addazio is using  trusted sounding board to try to improve game management.

Offense: C

Towles was not sharp. His old habits came back -- waiting too long to get rid of it, off target. He did have a few nice runs. His passing improved in the second half.

Willis' TD was a great run. I wish we had used him more on the edges all year. Rouse had a nice run. Jones and Hilliman had more trouble finding space.

Smith was sloppy with the ball and didn't get much going in the Wildcat stuff. Sweeney made some nice grabs. Callinan had a nice catch that kept things alive. Walker wasn't targeted much.

The OLine wasn't great. They broke down on pass protection and also had some issues creating holes in the running game. The interior guys were better than the tackles.

The Offensive play calling was the usual mixed bag. The now predictable Wildcat. Way too much running between the tackles and problems with execution. Yet there were a few moments that had promise. We spread them out well with running to the edges. We were able to get some intermediate passing going on the final scoring drive. The Bowl game will hopefully improve all the execution issues and tighten the playbook to things BC does well.

Defense: A-

The DEs were really game changers. Both Landry and Kavalec looked good and created all sorts of problems. Allen played well. Merritt and Gutapfel played well. Ray was okay in his limited snaps.

Before the game I said the LBs would have to play well. They were just okay. Their coverage was iffy. They were the ones who let Wolford break off his big runs. They didn't make tons of big plays. They still had their moments, but as a group, they weren't great.

I was happy for Denis. He was picked on earlier in the season yet made the INT to close out the win. I thought Moore played well. Yiadom got away with a few calls, but also played well. Johnson got a pick also.

BC didn't try to do too much unique stuff. We were in man for most of the game and didn't blitz much. If that is all it takes, then so be it. I hope Reid brings out some new stuff for the bowl game.

Special Teams: B

Rouse's first return was great until the fumble. Willis made a key play on punt coverage forcing the fumble.

Knoll's kickoffs were great. His punts were good.

Overall: B-

There were the typical Addazio problems in this game, but they didn't cost us the game. That doesn't excuse them. We had confusion on 4th downs. We had ultra-conservative play calling that gave away possessions. We wasted timeouts. We had Offensive gimmicks that didn't work. If Wake's kicked doesn't miss those kicks, this is a different game.

But Addazio does deserve credit for the team not stopping and having an actual comeback. I got some heat on Twitter for sharing that some player parents were vocal in their frustration. I would be too. But it was also clear from the team reaction on the field and in the lockerroom, that Addazio still has the players behind him. That is a tribute to him. We've seen more successful teams check out on their coach. Despite all the struggles, Addazio's team has not.

Now BC gets one more game and Addazio gets a chance to end an up and down season on a high note.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bowling

It wasn't pretty -- the season or the game -- but BC did enough to win the game and go to a bowl.

Congrats to the team for pulling it out.

I will have more Sunday night.

In-game comments post: Wake Forest

I will be at the game, so I don't know how often I will be posting or commenting during the game. Hopefully it is such a one-sided affair in BC's favoring that I can share only happy thoughts! BC and Addazio could really use a win. Another losing season (even with a bowl invite) is hard to spin.

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