I missed Couglin’s run by a year but still think I can capture what a big deal he was and why his short time at BC will always cast an unfair shadow on TOB.
Although he had worked at BC, Coughlin became the Head Coach fresh off a Giants Super Bowl win and was cast as a Parcells’ disciple. As ND fans are finding out now with Weis, the curt, buck stops here, we’re going to kick ass attitude combined with a dynamic offense will win over a fan base quickly. When he beat No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend in his third season, he cemented his status as a BC icon. Yet that was the peak of his reign. He lost to WVU the next week and was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars a few months later. But his charisma and the promise of what his run held (“if Coughlin had stayed...”) is still fresh in the memories of those who lived through the run. Heck, I was only a BC applicant when he beat Notre Dame and I still wonder what might have been. We will never know. Maybe he would have won a national championship. Maybe his my way or the highway attitude would have burned bridges with the players and the administration. Fans should let go because he was always too big for BC and the college game. He went where he belonged. But we can’t let go. We’re fans.
TC Legend also had the benefit of being followed by the Dan Henning disaster. [TANGENT TIME: This is getting too personal but I literally shat when I found out that Henning was the coach. This was spring 1994 and before the internet. I was in New Jersey so I couldn’t follow the coaching search in any paper. One day I am lounging around watching SportsCenter. I have to go to the bathroom and being your typical jerky senior in high school, I just blast the volume on the TV so I can still hear it from the can. Well I hear Olbermann or Patrick or whoever was doing the morning addition say “Boston College has hired Dan Henning…” and think to my self this is not good. Flush. END OF TANGENT.]
Even though he didn’t follow Coughlin, TOB will always live in Coughlin’s shadow among the diehards. And in my opinion, it is not entirely fair. Coughlin’s accomplishments at the Heights were not all that different from TOB's best moments, but his charisma and the promise of what the future held is too much and lends fuel to TOB’s critics. TOB will probably become the alltime winningest coach at BC in three seasons. To younger fans and non BC fans he and Doug Flutie are BC football. He probably doesn't care that a few hundred people still wonder about Coughlin.
Me, as much as I don't want to admit it, TC's legacy does impact my view of TOB. TOB has let me down numerous times. But I know things could be a lot worse. That is a horrible attitude, but how else should I deal with it? I am open to suggestions.