Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Atlantic outlook; Parsing Porter

I came across two good links. First, the straight forward -- the Florida Times-Union preview of the Atlantic division. Surprisingly BC is predicted to finish second to FSU.

Then I came across this interview with Quinton Porter. Most of it is bland, but he did say this when talking about Peterson running Bible’s offense:

“…I was here with [Brian] St. Pierre who really ran things by the book. But, Paul comes in and all of a sudden he's just doing things and throwing routes that you would never dream of throwing in a certain play because Coach [Dana] Bible would not be happy. But, he made it work. So after watching him, I've learned how to just go out there and cut it loose and forget about the strict rigidity of an offense.”

Quotes like that will add fuel to the Bible-haters fire. I fear that the offense will be less dynamic next season. But as I wrote previously, the offense has been pretty stable (and frustrating) under Bible.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Comings and goings

Long weekend for Dave Kashetta and Tim Bulman. Neither were drafted. Fortunately they were both signed to free agent deals Sunday night. Tim with the Cardinals and Dave with the Redskins. Best of luck to both.

BC held its annual Spring Game over the weekend. Parsing through the reports, I am concerned about Quinton Porter. Rust is natural, but the picks worry me. Even though it was BC vs. BC, he should tear up these scrimmages. Matt Ryan was a little more accurate with fewer attempts. Knowing this staff I guarantee Porter will start this fall even if outplayed this summer. I also predict a return of the “first series of the second quarter” substitution pattern for Ryan. Mediocre play will not cost Porter his job. He’ll have to bomb to get the hook.

In hoops news, Steve Hailey and Gordon Watt announced their intentions to transfer. Both sited lack of playing time. Hailey had his moments, but I don’t think he’ll leave much of a void. Their departures are softened by the announcement that Tyrese Rice signed with BC. Welcome to the Heights, Tyrese.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Bad news for ACC, good news for BC

In less than surprising news, the core of North Carolina’s championship team is departing. Add the other teams’ departures and it looks like it will be a wide open year in the ACC. Earlier this week, ESPN.com Eagle supporters Andy Katz and Pat Forde both wrote articles touting our chances next season.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Getting a better understanding of BC hoops

I've been focusing on football, so the great Kenpom beat me to some analysis of BC's stats. However -- inspired by his earlier work on blocks -- I wrote about Sean Williams' potential for a big soph year right after our season ended.

Kenpom offered good feedback on some of my earlier stuff. Hopefully he'll be able to offer some insight on BC as I dig deeper using some of his stuff and some of Dean Oliver's formulas.

ATL_eagle Scouting Service (look out Mel Kiper)

With the NFL Draft coming up, I thought I would give my own amateur and biased scouting report on the two Boston College players most likely to get drafted. (The fact that we are only discussing two draftees, shows the imperfection of recruiting. BC’s 2000 and 2001 classes were much lauded, yet produced fewer NFL prospects and about the same number of wins and losses as many of TOB’s earlier teams.)

Tim Bulman, DT, 6-3, 294. Tim had a good combine and a solid NFL workout. He is a little undersized to play the interior, but not fast enough to play the ends. Playing next to Kiwi the past few seasons helped free him up and he took advantage. His motor and drive should overcome any size issues. He needs to play a little more under control. Stupid penalties are not tolerated from second day of the draft guys. I could see him going fourth or fifth round. I think he’ll be a solid NFL contributor for a few seasons. Good luck Tim.

Dave Kashetta, TE, 6-3, 247. Kashetta’s career at BC was a letdown. He was highly-touted coming in and never lived up to the hype and in my opinion his potential. He has good size and athleticism and pretty good hands, but never became a difference maker. He would get lost -- and we run an offense that incorporates Tight Ends! Even now -- when you would expect hype -- the coaches still seem lukewarm on him. Although you would expect a BC TE to be a good blocker, Dave was mediocre and a drop off from our recent TEs. I don’t know Dave. He may be a nice kid, but he never showed much heart or desire out there. It never all came together in one game. I think it just might be a case of a big athletic kid who played because he was good at football, not because he had the desire to be the best. I wish him luck. Maybe it will all come together in the NFL. Right now he is a second day pick and a backup Tight End.

A guy who didn’t have Kashetta’s size, but twice as much heart just signed on with the Ottawa Renegades. Good luck Paul. If given the chance, I think he can make it happen in Canada.

Friday, April 15, 2005

ACC news and notes

The ACC confirmed that they will use replay next season. The Big Ten used it successfully this season, so I see no reason why it shouldn’t work this year. I am all for it as long as the right calls are made.

In other news, the ACC initially opposed the expansion of the regular season to 12 games, sighting concerns for the students. I won’t get into numerous hypocritical aspects of that silly stance. Later in the week the conference softened its position. I imagine this will go forward soon. What does it mean? Will the conferences expand their schedules by one game? That would make most sense as it would keep the money in the family. But as mentioned in the linked article, it wouldn’t surprise me if the teams feast on Division I-AA schools.

I am surprised the ACC was the only conference to object to expansion. I would have thought the eight-team conferences would have realized a longer season benefits the big guys more. Larger conferences can easily fill the game and get more TV money. With only seven conference games, the eight-team conferences could potentially have a harder time scheduling. We’ll see how the agendas, egos, timeslots and schedules play out, but I am sure it will get approval, which means more football for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Moving...ups and downs

My musings on BC-ND generated a few emails saying that BC will be a permanent cellar dweller in the ACC. I think BC will be a middle of the pack team in the ACC, winning 6 to 8 games every season. My gut told me that good teams remained good, mediocre remained mediocre and bad, bad after conference switches. Looking to support my hypothesis, I went back to examine the records of teams joining major conferences since the Pac 10 expanded in the late ‘70s. I looked at the teams’ five years prior to joining the conference and their first five years in their new conference. I excluded teams joining the Big East since it was a completely new conference and did not include Miami and Va. Tech’s recent moves since we only have one ACC season to measure (although it should be noted that Va. Tech won the conference). The numbers sort of burst my bubble. Take a look. (The winning percentage is in parentheses.)[SCROLL TO SEE TABLES]

Pac 8 expansion

Arizona State43-16 (.729)41-17 (.707)
Arizona36-20 (.643)28-26-2 (.519)

Georgia Tech joining the ACC.

Georgia Tech30-25-1 (.536)15-38-2 (.283)

Penn State becoming the 11th team in the Big 10.

Penn State42-16 (.724)49-12 (.803)

Florida State joining the ACC.

Florida State53-8 (.869)54-6-1 (.900)

SEC expansion.

Arkansas38-22(.633)25-29-2 (.463)
South Carolina31-23-2 (.574)26-28-1 (.481)

Remnants of the SWC getting swallowed by the Big 8.

Texas34-22-2 (.607)39-20 (.661)
Texas A&M51-8-1 (.864)37-23 (.617)
Baylor34-24 (.586)11-44 (.200)
Texas Tech34-24 (.571)33-25 (.569)

Of these examples, only three teams (Texas, Penn State, Florida State) improved their winning percentages in the first few seasons in the new conference. The average winning percentage declined by 10%. And most fans would point out that the three schools that improved were already established, traditional powers.

Most disconcerting was Baylor’s decline. Many opponents and columnists have mocked BC saying that we’ll be “the Baylor of the ACC.” And while there are similarities between the schools, I think the situations are different enough that our fate will be different. Baylor is a private school in a mega-conference filled with state schools. Also, Baylor is in a football hotbed where high school athletes have numerous choices. BC will be in a conference with a mix of public and private schools, with many of the public schools being like-minded academically. Although the Northeast does not generate as many football players as Texas, BC will remain a unique and appealing option in an underrated recruiting area.

So what does it all mean? The numbers say BC will experience a slight decline. I’ll hold out hope.

Monday, April 11, 2005

BC-ND: past, present and future

There is little news coming out of Spring practice, so Barry Gallup Jr. signing with Notre Dame fired up a lot of Eagle fans. Why the fuss over an undersized Massachusetts wideout? Part of the furor is because Barry Sr. is a former Eagle standout and current BC assistant AD. But if Barry Jr. had signed anywhere else no one would have batted an eye. It was the Irish aspect that sparked calls for Barry Sr.’s head and questioned our ability to recruit vs. the new Irish regime. However, I see nothing wrong with kids going to schools other than the ones that employ their parents. Gene D. and Jerry York both sent children to Notre Dame. BC benefits from this open-minded philosophy too, as the Eaves brother served as the recent core of our Hockey team. If they followed the no place but where dad works mantra they would have been scoring goals at Wisconsin instead of the Heights.

So clearly the fire was all about the Irish. For those uninitiated, here is my somewhat long but hopefully thorough take on BC-Notre Dame.

The Eagles and the Irish had separate identities for most of their existences. BC was the Jesuit school in Boston providing an education to the middle class Catholics of the Northeast. Notre Dame was a small school in Indiana that rose to national prominence on the shoulders of its football program. BC changed with Father Monan’s term as BC Pres and Doug Flutie’s attention grabbing play. The regional Catholic school transformed into a national university competing for the same student who applied to Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Athletically the schools’ paths rarely crossed. The Irish remained independent and developed rivalries with Michigan and USC. BC played mostly Eastern Independents and eventually helped found the Big East. As BC athletics thrived, our original rival Holy Cross deemphasized sports and left BC without a traditional gridiron rival.

As an independent, Notre Dame prided itself on its “national schedule” and in the late ‘80s agreed to a series with the only other Catholic school playing Division IA football -- BC. The series seemed perfect to both sides. The Irish got a series where they received more home games, played in a major East Coast market and got to play a school that shared their perspective on the student athlete. (The contracts were signed when the “Catholics vs. Convicts” were getting national headlines, fights were breaking out in the tunnels and Irish fans were getting pelted with garbage at the Orange Bowl.)

BC got to rub elbows with the Irish and use the national platform as a recruiting tool. Then a few things happened. First Irish fans were dismissive of BC, pissing off Eagle fans everywhere. Then Holtz ran up the score in the first meeting. Then BC coach Tom Coughlin used that slight to motivate his team for the next year, which culminated in BC upsetting No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend. The loss ruined ND’s 1993 title run and many fans point to Gordon’s kick as the demarcation point in the current decline in Irish football.

Those two games changed BC fans forever. Notre Dame was now THE biggest game of the year. And Notre Dame’s continued arrogance and flippant response to any rival talk fueled the fire. BC followed the 1993 win with another upset this time in Chestnut Hill. Although the Irish dominated the next few seasons, the game still meant something to BC. (BTW, my roommate T-Ray was the first to disrupt an Irish pep rally.)

1997 brought new coaches to both schools. And while Bob Davie was unable to bring consistent performance to South Bend, Tom O’Brien was able to turn BC into a consistent winner. O’Brien’s stubbornness and charisma void was overlooked by BC fans as he started beating the Irish on an annual basis. Frustrated by mediocrity, Notre Dame booted Davie, mishandled a coaching search (George O’Leary) and ended up with Ty Willingham. Willingham got off to a bang. The Irish were undefeated and thinking National Title when BC returned to South Bend. Despite his shortcomings, Willingham knew his history and warned his team not to overlook BC. Then he did the unthinkable -- he broke out the green jerseys. The green jerseys are part of Notre Dame lore and by donning them against BC, he nonverbally acknowledged the importance of the game. BC upset the Irish again and Ty’s time at the Golden Dome was never the same.

With every win, BC fans gloated and taunted ND fans (mostly via message boards), savoring the victories and Notre Dame denials. Irish fans responded with the type of bile they normally reserved for Bo Schembechler, Jimmy Johnson and O. J. Simpson, referring to BC as Backup College and Fredo. (Irish fans were also furious over BC players pulling turf off the field in 2002.) This became the most heated “non rivalry” the Irish had. Add the Irish meddling in BC’s move to the ACC and recent upset of the undefeated hoops squad and there is plenty of bad blood.

Notre Dame has a new coach and a new president. Irish fans have got their admins thinking more about their BCS rankings rather than the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings.

BC is off to a new conference, the ACC. Fans are thrilled about the new opponents. The administration is thrilled with being grouped with like-minded schools like Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest.

With a two-year respite in the football series and the schools in other conferences, BC and ND will have fewer opportunities to take the rivalry to the field. Both fans are saying “good riddance” and “we don’t need them.” But the Gallup episode shows, both sides still care.

BC’s future is certain. We are in the ACC and will have an opportunity to compete for quality bowl games and be seen on national TV in all sports. BC no longer needs Notre Dame for cash and recruiting platforms.

The Irish’s future is more uncertain. Regardless if Charlie Weis succeeds of fails, Notre Dame will always draw attention and be a desirable opponent. But much of their athletic schedule is tied to the fledgling “New Big East.” If the conference falls apart, will the Irish save it? Join the despised Big Ten? Or look to recreate their Big East deal with another, more viable conference. Independence is primary to most Irish fans, so I imagine a partial membership or alliance with the ACC is more appealing then any other scenarios. But what would be in it for the ACC and who would bring the Irish to the negotiating table? It seems like BC would be the logical candidate.

We’ll see what happens. In the meantime this BC fan will miss the Irish over the next two seasons. It is one less win we can count on!

Early preseaon predictions

I am really optimistic about next year’s basketball team. If Craig Smith returns and many of the marquee players in the ACC leave, there is no reason we can’t compete for a top spot in conference. After getting overlooked last year, the national columnists also like our chances. Here is a collection of their thoughts.

ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi thinks we are a 3 seed. His colleague Andy Katz has us in the top 10.

While not in his top 10, SI.com’s Luke Winn groups BC in his others to watch category.

Sportsline’s Gregg Doyel ranks us at No. 12.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Trying to make sense of BC’s offense

I loved watching Paul Peterson play. His ability to keep plays alive with his feet and willingness to throw balls downfield gave me a feeling that we were in every game. And his 11-2 record as a starter, proved that when he was around, we were. Yet, our raw offensive numbers were not dramatically better this season. In fact, even with the shorter season, there was a decline in Total Offense. Was it due to the drop off in talent at Running Back? A lift from the good special teams play? The poor output against Syracuse? The inability to finish off a few key drives? I am not sure, but plan on using the offseason to figure out. In the meantime look at the key numbers of the last five seasons for Boston College’s offense under the much maligned Dana Bible. [SCROLL. TABLES ARE FUNKY IN BLOGGER.]

YearTotal PointsTotal OffenseTotal Passing Total Rushing
2003 (13 game season)370525528882367
2002 (13 game season)392507430102064

Unexpectedly our best offenses don’t correlate to our best records. In fact you would say the most accomplished and talented squads were the 2001 and 2004 teams. So were do I go from here? I am going to do my best to figure out what makes a difference in record, in play and in talent. Because on the surface it would appear that the players are interchangeable and Dana Bible’s teams are good for 340 points and seven wins every year. (I’ll also try to factor in defense, special teams and strength of schedule.)

I just think there has got to be a reason Peterson won and our other QBs have been slightly above average. I'll post any progress as I dig deeper.

And if anyone has access to drive BC drive charts or play-by-play logs, send me an email.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A little of this and a little of that

Slow times for BC sports. Later this week, I’ll post a stat piece on BC’s offense under Dana Bible. In the meantime, here are some links to tide readers over.

Gene D. was added to the Massachusetts Sports and Entertainment Commission (second item on the link). This is another sign of his growing influence in the area. Perhaps he’ll be able to bring some additional college events to Boston and Foxboro.

The AJC reports that the Atlanta Sports Council is delaying its pitch for a second Atlanta bowl until next year. I hope this goes through because a game including the 6th or 7th place ACC team has BC written all over it. After following the team across the country, I am all for easy drives and hosting out-of-town friends for bowl games.

A writer in North Carolina captures what many BC fans have been thinking with this succinct headline.

I have a hetero, man-crush on Paul Peterson. But it looks like Meghan still has his heart. Hopefully he can catch on in Canada. I’ll post my farewell to Paul and explain why he is my second favorite athlete when he graduates. (Good work by the writer, Kevin Armstrong.)

Here is a fluff Q&A with O’Brien on Spring Practice. He confirmed that Will Blackmon is moving to offense. Not much else there, but when you are starving, you savor any morsel you get.