Wednesday, May 31, 2006

10 Years of TOB Part III: the 10 best off the field accomplishments

Part III of the series (Part I and Part II). A head coach is ultimately judged by wins and losses. Yet a college coach’s job entails a lot more than what happens on the field. He has to be part father figure, part salesman, part statesman, part CEO, part teacher, part strategist, and part cheerleader. While TOB certainly has his faults in these off field areas, most would agree he has been very successful when dealing with stuff outside the Xs and Os. So here is my list of his accomplishments. This has even more subjectivity than the other lists, so criticism and feedback are welcome. While the category is “off the field” some of these certainly come awfully close to game related. Ultimately this is a list of things outside of wins that TOB can claim as accomplishments.

10. Leveraging the O-line legacy. I won’t get into the challenges we have at the skill positions, but one thing TOB has done is produce great offensive lines. Part of this was due to the foundation he inherited. Part was due to his background as an offensive line coach. Part is based on the type of kids that want to come to BC. Whatever the reasons, the results are clear -- BC fielded some of the best lines in football under TOB.

9. Being a coaches' coach. For all the gripes fans might have with him, TOB is well liked by other coaches. Professional coaches, college coaches, and high school coaches have all sent their own sons to play for him. We also are a popular destination for transfers (meaning other coaches are comfortable with their players leaving for BC). And our staff turnover has been minimal. Championships are not won based on respect from your peers, but it does show you are doing something right.

8. Building a network at Catholic schools. This seems like such a no-brainer given the school’s affiliation, but surprisingly BC didn’t have the same inroads as Notre Dame when TOB arrived. Now we are a known commodity in Midwest leagues. We also have improved our network in New England, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These schools have provided some of TOB’s best players including Kiwi, William Green and Brian Toal.

7. Taking a flyer on Paul Peterson. How many coaches found their best quarterbacks through the mail? An under-recruited JUCO slinger, Peterson sent videos to teams with holes at QB. BC was the first to take a chance. While credit is not solely due to TOB for offering him a scholarship, at the end of the day it is his staff and his call. In Peterson he got a great leader and great QB.

6. Dealing with William Green. Green has had a tough life. Left an orphan when both of his heroin-addicted parents died of AIDS. Raised by a man who later became a convicted sex offender. Green has battled his own addictions and been on the receiving end of a kitchen knife from the mother of his child. The most stable, productive and safe time of his life was when he was at BC. TOB suspended him twice, but also provided enough guidance to make him an All-American. When Green’s baby mama cut him, I remember reading about TOB reaching out to do what he could. I don’t know if Green listened, but at least TOB took the time and showed he cared.

5. Cleaning up the gambling scandal. This should be higher on the list. I bumped it down for a reason -- I am tired of hearing about it. I know the team was a mess and the whole program could’ve gone under permanently. TOB came in and righted the ship. For that I and many BC fans are grateful. But it is still being used as a crutch or justification for our current plateau. Some of it is the media’s fault for constantly bringing it up. However, I don’t think you’d hear about it as often if TOB and Gene didn’t seem to work it into every interview. Enough already. BC’s current roster is filled with guys who were in elementary school when it happened. It is no longer relevant. If TOB said “that’s old news” once, this would move up to No. 1.

4. Focusing on Notre Dame. I don’t like the general BC obsession with Notre Dame for various reasons. Yet the majority of fans savor every win over the Irish. TOB has used that game as a focal point for the season, his success and as a rallying point for the fans. And best of all, he’s won. Now he hasn’t beaten the best Irish teams of all-time, but BC fans don’t care. Bragging rights are what counts and TOB has provided.

3. Running a clean program. TOB is stubborn and principled. Unfortunately these qualities are not shared among all college coaches. He has suspended his best players for the biggest games. He has kicked future first round draft picks off the team only to see them excel at other schools. I am sure there have been exceptions over the years, but his guys are well behaved and represent some of the best aspects of Boston College.

2. Encouraging the Super Fans. BC fans are a strange lot. While many care as passionately as I do, we are still in the minority. Most who attend games and watch on TV, want to see BC win and hate to see the team lose, but the game is only part of the “Gameday” experience. Every tailgate is like a mini-reunion. The games are extremely social for the majority of fans -- not life and death events like they can be at some schools. So things like getting to your seats on time were less important than one more beer or one more hot dog. The tide slowly began to turn during the tail end of TOB’s first season. Some enterprisings Juniors started the Super Fan shirts. Now nearly a decade later, the whole student section is yellow and filled at game time. It is now cool for undergrads to care about who we are playing and if we win. While the credit primarily for the Super Fans movement should go to the guys who started it, TOB deserves a big chunk of it too. He encouraged these guys right away and by producing winning football for seven seasons, he gave the movement momentum. The older alums are still a “down in front,” arrive late group, but as more and more Super Fans graduate, the culture will change. Maybe 20 years from now the whole stadium will be loud, packed and yellow. If so, it will be in part because of TOB’s encouragement.

1. Graduating his players. Despite the ongoing debate over paying players, these guys remain student-athletes. While on campus they are expected to go to class, perform like other students, and graduate, all while playing their sport at a high level. Many schools have the high level of football down but ignore the classroom stuff. BC doesn’t. These kids go to class and come away with degrees. Sure there are plenty of “light” courses on these transcripts, but for the most part, these guys are regular students and their BC degrees mean something. BC was graduating players at a good rate before TOB got to Chestnut Hill. Since he arrived, things have only gotten better to the point where BC annually ranks in the Top 10 in graduation rates. O’Brien deserves credit for keeping this a priority and for delivering on the academic promise all coaches make to players but few rarely live up to.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Position Analysis: Defensive Line

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers the Defensive line. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here, and Part II: Running Backs here).

Projected Starters

DE -- Jim Ramella, SO, 6’4, 244lbs
DT -- Ron Brace, SO, 6’3, 343lbs
DT -- B.J. Raji, JR, 6’1, 337lbs
DE -- Nick Larkin, JR, 6’4, 244lbs

Other guys who should see time

DE -- Austin Giles, FR, 6’3, 283lbs
DT -- Jerry Willette, SO, 6’5, 261lbs
DT -- Keith Willis, SO, 6’1, 266lbs
DE -- Brendan Deska, FR, 6’5, 243lbs

Having lost one of the most decorated players in BC history (Kiwi) and a steady performer (Washington) many are wondering what we can expect from the defensive line this year. I am not worried. While the unit lacks experience, I think there is enough talent for the group to maintain its productivity.

B.J. Raji is a star. He’ll be more of a focus this season -- which will just open up things for the guys around him. Many will talk about his size and agility, but what impressed me about Raji last year was his motor. For someone carrying so much weight on his frame he has very good endurance and does not give up on plays. I think his ability to collapse the line was one of the main reasons our run defense improved in '05. Raji’s year might be easier if Ron Brace can stay healthy. He is a big boy too. I’ve heard many good things about him but he hasn’t seen the field much due to different injuries.

Nick Larkin is serviceable. I am sure he will continue to improve, but I don’t expect him to ever become a dominating player. One guy who I do expect big things from is Jim Ramella. This might seem unusual given my limited exposure and the criticism Ramella received, but I think the guy is ready for a big year. Watching him on second viewings, I really liked his instincts...especially for a true freshman. He was good at shedding blockers and was pretty disciplined on keeping contain. Despite his growing pains, I think playing as a true freshman is a huge endorsement from this staff. He still needs more weight, but I think Ramella will surprise people this year.

One area of concern for the whole unit is lack of depth. Over the past few seasons Spaz has rotated these guys in and out effectively. This season his second unit guys will be pretty green. Can we still use the same rotation? The back ups will learn on the job. Fortunately for BC the schedule doesn’t get really rough until October.


Various reports on Redshirt Freshman Brendan Deska have been positive. If Larkin or Ramella stumble, Deska might step up as a starter.

Final Prediction

This group just has to be average. The linebackers and DBs will carry this team. As long as Raji can remain disruptive, I think we’ll be okay. I don’t think things will ever get bad and with Brace, Ramella, and Deska, I think there is potential for this group to be better than anyone expects.

Issues with Preview Issues

I have a problem. I eagerly anticipate the national previews on BC every season and every season I am ultimately disappointed in the end result. I bought Athlon’s ACC Preview this weekend. I recommend it for the scouting reports on our opponents. The section on BC was pretty hollow. It rehashed most of the stuff we already know made the glaring mistake of calling Matt Ryan a Senior.

CFN produced another thorough but still lacking preview too. While I think they accurately captured the “good, but not great” issues, I don’t think they have a good feel for key parts of the team. I think many writers are discounting how good Ryan can be, don’t realize how important Beekman is, and no one is primed for a huge year from Dunbar. Maybe I am getting too excited about Jolonn’s potential, but everything about him showed promise last year. All he needs to do is improve his coverage skills and he could be all conference.

This is the problem with any national coverage: inevitably passionate fans will know more than the guy who writes the snippet on their team. That is why I wish the Globe and Herald would step up their coverage or add more analysis. Both papers have premium access and a great platform. Unfortunately their previews rarely uncover anything new.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blogroll update

No news today, but I have updated my blogroll. Some of the additions are long overdue.

David Glenn does a great job with the behind the scenes issues in the ACC.

Joey from Straight Bangin' narrows his focus to strictly Michigan sports on his second blog Schembechler Hall.

Burnt Orange Nation covers all things Longhorn.

Kanu covers those sports you only care about part of the year like Horse Racing, Soccer, etc. at Dodgy At Best.

While the guys from CU Sporting News seem to be on a break, Tiger Pundit has picked up the slack with full coverage of Clemson sports.

ArmchairGM is a sports blog and wiki that will hopefully grow over the next few months.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Position Analysis: Running Backs

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers the running backs. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here).

Projected Starters

TB -- Andre Callender, JR. 5’11, 204lbs or
TB -- L.V. Whitworth, JR, 6’0, 220lbs
FB -- Mark Palmer, SR, 6’3, 245 lbs

Other guys who should see time

TB -- A.J. Brooks, SO, 6’0, 199 lbs
FB -- Survival Ross, SR, 6’0, 207 lbs
LB -- Brian Toal, JR, 6’1, 238 lbs

TOB always favored a featured running back. Two years ago, injuries and inexperience forced him to split carries among three Freshman. As you can see from the chart below, production fell. Last year, I assumed that he would eventually settle on someone and return to form. He didn’t. Brooks was out of the picture as a red-shirt, but Whitworth and Callender split carries. The total rushing numbers improved but running back by committee still proved less effective than TOB’s prior days using a featured back. This year will be a challenge. Splitting the carries three ways really doesn’t seem to help this offense (splitting between two RBs is questionable). I would like to see one guy become the featured back, but I don’t think it will happen.

YearYards RushingAttemptsAvg per carryRushing TDs
2005 1,740 449 3.9 21
2004 1,681 449 3.7 12
2003 2,367 557 4.2 23
2002 2,064 492 4.2 25

Last season the more we saw of 'Dre and L.V., the more each runner's Achilles heal became more noticeable. Whitworth has never shown true game breaking talent or the ability to allude tacklers. 'Dre’s effort seems lacking at times resulting in the occasional fumble and more than one trip to TOB’s doghouse. Based on his limited play, Brooks might be the most well rounded of the three.

As for the Fullbacks, Mark Palmer returns for his final season. A good pass catcher, Palmer improved as a blocker during last season's injury plagued campaign. Survival Ross also moves to Fullback in order to get more playing time.


Depth is a good thing. While I think Callender is our best option, I am pretty confident that all three will produce similar results in this offense.

Final Prediction

I think Brooks will get the short shrift. I also think parity and coaching preferences will have Callender and Whitworth splitting the carries. I would love to see one of them step up and think Callender is the one who can. He showed how tough he can be last year. He has the better skill. I hope his attitude/outlook improved this offseason.

One other note: Brian Toal was the most successful short yardage back we had last year. If he cannot play this season, BC will desperately need one of these guys to step up in goal line situations.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Is BC underrated heading into the season? and other links

Here is CFR’s quick look at the Top 5 teams of the major conferences. The obvious omission is Boston College. I like CFR and respect his work. As more and more preseason polls are released, I am realizing that his perception of the ACC is shared by many. I know BC fans can’t agree on how good we’ll be this year, but most BC fans do agree that the team will easily walk to eight wins. Why are the national guys less enthusiastic about our potential? BC has an light schedule and despite what CFR and others say, I still think the traditional ACC powers are in down cycles. Maybe the loss of Kiwi and the offensive line turnover have created some doubt. Who knows? What I do know is that something is really wrong if TOB doesn’t get to eight wins with this schedule.

In other news...

The ACC schools continue their strong academic showing.

Everyone is excited about ACC games coming to Fenway.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

10 Years of TOB Part II: the 10 best wins

Part II of the series (Part I). TOB’s ability to beat the teams he is supposed to beat (for the most part) and lose to the team you’d expect him to lose to (for the most part) made this list a little harder to compile. Once again, this is my personal rating system with a ton of subjectivity. Part III will deal with off the field accomplishments. Of course I welcome any feedback on these games or games I might have overlooked.

10. BC 41, Georgia Tech 31. Sept. 5, 1998. This might seem like a random game. Tech wasn’t ranked at the time and BC would finish 1998 with a losing record. But it doesn’t capture what an upset it turned out to be. Over the course of 20 games this Georgia Tech team only lost three times -- once to BC and twice to Florida State. O’Leary and Hamilton were at their best and TOB beat them at home. This involved a big effort from Mike Cloud. This was TOB’s first big out of conference win.

9. BC 31, Notre Dame 29. Nov. 20, 1999. When I first posted the losses, one of the readers wrote the best wins will be easy -- just list the Notre Dame games. This one is remembered for being the first time TOB’s guys pulled up clumps of turf as souvenirs. (The practice would gain more attention a few years later.) The reason this was a big win? It was TOB’s first win over the Irish and the first victory at South Bend since the Gordon kick. This was also highpoint of O’Brien’s first winning season.

8. BC 21, Notre Dame 17. Oct. 27, 2001. Not one of the better Irish teams. In fact this game might have sealed Bob Davie’s fate in South Bend. The game makes the list not because of the Irish, but because of William Green’s performance. Green was easily the most talented guy to pass through Chestnut Hill during TOB’s era. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, he rarely scratched the surface of his potential. This game was probably his best. It included a 71-yard run and a 70-yard pass play. Here is a snippet from the AP article on the game “O'Brien said. ‘William told me before the game that he was going to have the game of his life.’" (Green would be suspended one week later.)

7. BC 35, Wake Forest 30. Oct. 15, 2005. This was not well played. This opponent was not very good. The weather that day was horrible. The long-term implications are still unclear, yet this game deserves to be on the list. Why? Because Matt Ryan put on a show. He capped his gunslinging performance with a beautiful throw and catch to Challenger in the corner. Comebacks have been rare under TOB. The old Marine’s style and philosophy result in slow and steady wins. So when a gamer like Matty Ryan comes in and saves a "lost cause" game it really provides a jolt to the fan base and leaves a lasting memory. As I said, the long-term ramifications of this game are still unknown, but if Ryan becomes a star and we crush Wake Forest (like we should) people will point to this game as a turning point. Even if nothing comes of it, the last 10 minutes of this game were exciting enough to make the Top 10.

6. BC 16, Clemson 13. Sept. 24, 2005. TOB’s first ACC win. Playing without his starting QB, on the road in a brutally hot stadium, TOB put together one of his best games against a good Clemson team. The strategy was nothing new -- wear out the opponent with our size. However, there was a twist that factored in the heat (playing the second string offensive line for long stretches). The defense was also fantastic. The game showed BC belonged in the ACC. It really could’ve gone either way. I think if BC lost this game, the season could have unraveled…making this win that much bigger.

5. BC 20, Georgia 16. Dec. 28, 2001. This game marked TOB’s first win over a ranked opponent. Georgia was not dominating and a questionable punt by the 'Dawgs late in the game handed the victory to the Eagles. But TOB does deserve credit for this. BC was down early and this was a virtual road game. The team hung on and earned what is sadly TOB’s most respectable bowl win to date.

4. BC 24, Norte Dame 23. Oct. 23, 2004. The Wake Forest win is a testament to Matt Ryan. This game will be remembered as the highlight of the Paul Peterson era. His 30-yard pass to Gonzo capped a stunning second half comeback in South Bend. Notre Dame proved to be average, but they did come into this game ranked. If the 2001 loss marked the end of the Davie run, this was probably the final nail in Ty Willingham’s coffin.

3. BC 36, West Virginia 17. Nov. 13, 2004. Ah, what could’ve been. This game was supposed to be BC’s last step en route to the Fiesta Bowl. The Syracuse loss the next week changed the way this game would be viewed. Which is a shame since BC kicked the shit out of the ‘Eers with the conference title on the line. West Virginia was ranked and BC had a notoriously miserable track record in Morgantown. Things changed that day. BC dominated in nearly every way. Moving the ball, shutting down the Mountaineers and absolutely killing them on special teams. It should’ve been the perfect exclamation point to our final Big East season. Instead it turned out to be just a good game.

2. BC 34, Virginia Tech 27. Nov. 22, 2003. BC came into this game with very little hope. Virginia Tech was ranked. BC limped in with a raw Quarterback and a team that barely got by Rutgers the week before. Things turned around quickly. Derrick Knight played really well. The defense used the bend but don’t break philosophy to contain Randall and Paul Peterson showed how exciting this offense could be when it is opened up a little.

1. BC 14, ND 7. Nov. 2, 2002. The Green Jersey game. Notre Dame was in full ‘Return to Glory’ mode. The Irish were undefeated and coming off a huge win at Florida State. BC limped in. Much of the talk heading into the week was focused on the Irish avoiding a letdown a la ’93. When the Irish came out in their Green Jerseys, it was a statement -- ‘we are ready for BC.’ The green proved unlucky as BC won a defensive struggle and sent the Irish on a slide that eventually led to Willingham’s dismissal. The game provided TOB with his first win over a Top 5 team and the biggest BC upset since the 1993 Notre Dame game.

Monday, May 22, 2006

With that out of the way...

I’ve done my best to avoid talking about the Rice commencement protests here. Now that her speech is over and the uproar proved to be small and contained, I think it is important to remember what this day is really about -- the students and their families. So my congratulations go out to all the new Boston College alumni. Welcome to the club and best of luck with your chosen path. (If I am ever asked to give a commencement speech "congrats and best of luck" might be the extent of what I say. No one cares about the speech. The students and family just want to hear their names called and walk across a stage.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Post Spring Blogpoll Roundtable

Burnt Orange is hosting the latest blogpoll roundtable. It’s been a busy week, so I am just getting to my answers now. Check out his blog for great Texas coverage and to see what other bloggers had to say.

1. Which offseason story are you most tired of, and, on the flip side, interested in? (e.g. Reggie Bush's house, Jimmy Claussen, etc.)

Maybe because I saw him skydiving at least a dozen times on SportsCenter, but I am already sick of the Dan Hawkins “revitalizing Colorado” storyline. Didn’t we already go through this with Rick Neuheisel and Gary Barnett? I seem to remember hearing before how the new coach was going to bring a fresh outlook to CU and clean up the mess. This is not the first time that a coach was the “perfect fit for Boulder” and “got CU.” I know rehashing storylines happens everywhere (“Return to Glory” or “the Shadow of the Bear”) but at least Notre Dame and ‘Bama have history on their side. Without the 5th down, what does CU have? Instead of sky diving, I would rather see some analysis of how Hawkins offense will work in the Big XII.

One offseason story not getting enough play is: what is going to happen in Miami this season? How many coaches with National Championships and winning percentages like Coker’s would ever be on the hot seat? Will his house cleaning make a difference? We’ll see.

2. Your head coach comes down with a mystery illness and has to step aside. You get to hand pick the replacement for the 2006 season. Who gets your vote?

My dream coach would be Spurrier. He’s everything TOB is not: a great quote, inventive offensively, and emotional on the sidelines. Of course there is no way that would ever happen. So realistically I would say Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Coach Mark Whipple. He’s got the college and pro experience. He’s aggressive offensively. He knows New England. If BC ever has a coaching change, he should be one of the first guys to get a call.

3. Lastly, we'll mix the football and the blogging together here. If you could have anyone switch allegiances and start covering your team, who you gonna pick?

Picking my favorite blogpoller is too hard. Each guy has his own style. So instead I’ll pick a borderline college football blogger who is not part of the poll. Lexicon is a die hard USC fan. I came across his blog on a recommendation. What I like and respect, aside from his passion for the Trojans, is that he is very consistent with his content. He mixes in travel, his job, his kids and his tv habits during the offseason. What I like about his USC coverage and his coverage of college football is that he is not trying to be something unique. Sometimes I feel that bloggers (me included) try to hard to say something new or different every time out. Lex just writes about his experiences going to games and tells you how he did on his bets. That’s about it. I enjoy reading about his struggles battling LA traffic on gamedays and the fun he has following a great team. If he were a BC blogger, I am sure I would eat up his accounts of battling Boston traffic and watching his team lose in painful ways.

Ryan's right

Bob Ryan took time to make a good point this morning. We should play Holy Cross every year in basketball. I said the same thing three weeks ago. I'm not sure why Ryan is just getting to the subject now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

“What? You don’t publish an ACC Preview?”

Perusing the newstand the other day, I came across The Sporting News’ SEC preview. Excited, I hunted for its ACC counterpart. No luck. I assumed that my Borders just didn’t have it. Searching online I realized something much more disappointing -- The Sporting News doesn’t publish one! So now I have to wait for the general College Football Preview that comes out later this summer. This sobering experience did make me think. Do I really need to buy the Preview issue? Aside from some stats and words, I can already predict what it will say about the ACC schools.

Here are my guesses on the storylines for each ACC team.

Boston College. The Eagles lost key players and are reworking their line. Their easy schedule will return them to the postseason where they hope to extend their bowl winning streak.

Clemson. Can Tommy Bowden beat his daddy and the ol’ ball coach again? Tommy B. is replacing some key players but the offense should be much better.

Duke. The clock is ticking on Roof. He has more talent. Can he finally show signs of improvement?

Florida State. Bowden reloads on defense and hopes the offense is improved. Much maligned coordinator Jeff Bowden is the key to the Seminoles defending their conference championship.

Georgia Tech. Gailey handed the reigns of the offense to young OC Nix. Will the veteran team, led by Ball and Johnson, finally break through the 7 win barrier? [The magazines will also mention the Jacket’s tough schedule.]

Maryland. Does Big Ralph get things back on track? Coaching turnover and QB questions make this a make or break season for the Terps.

Miami. New and old faces try to get Miami’s groove back. The ‘Canes still have enough talent to compete for the conference title. If they don’t, Coker is in trouble.

North Carolina. Bunting is in for another long year. Hope is on the way in the form of hot shot recruit Paulus. [This last note depends on the publish date. If they put the mag together before Paulus' commit, than look for just general “Bunting still has the support of the UNC faithful” filler.]

North Carolina St. Lost more talent than any team in the conference. Chuckie’s offense should be better and he is looking to build off of last year’s strong finish.

Virginia. Groh lost two coordinators and his starting QB. Look for the 'Hoos to struggle this season, but Groh does some of his best work when little is expected of his team.

Virginia Tech. The premiere team in the conference. Losing Vick helps because there will be fewer distractions. Beamer ball always assures that they will be competitive.

Wake Forest. Always good for an upset or two, the Deacs will still be out classed and finish in the bottom half of the conference.

My predictions on The Sporting News division standing predicitons:

Florida State
Boston College
NC State
Wake Forest

Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
North Carolina

ACC Championship Game
Virginia Tech over Florida State

All this cynicism about predictable storylines for the conference aside, I’ll still rush to buy the Preview the minute it hits the stands!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

10 Years of TOB Part I: the 10 worst losses

We are approaching TOB’s tenth year at the Heights, so I thought it was time for a little look back at his run. In an effort to be balanced, I’ll break this series into three parts (his 10 best wins, his 10 worst losses, and 10 best off-field moves). I’ll start with the losses.

This list is strictly my opinion. I am sure many fans will quibble with some of my selections and my ranking. Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I was surprised by how tough it was to narrow this list to 10. There were 20 deserving debacles. What surprised me most is how many bad games have come in the last four years -- supposedly TOB’s best stretch. Maybe with more at stake the pain of the L is greater. Maybe my memory is still fresh. Or maybe we as fans are just getting tired of letting games slip away in similar fashion.

Here are the games that barely missed the final cut: Either of the Wake games, Pitt ’02, the two Temple losses, Navy ’98, Virginia Tech ’02, Miami ’00, WVU ’03, and Stanford ’01.

Now the 10 worst in reverse order.

10. BC 17, Pitt 20. Oct. 16, 2004. While another conference loss in our final Big East season was 10 times more painful, in reality this one did as much damage. Paul Peterson’s gutsy drive in the fourth quarter forced overtime, but the real story was the number of mistakes BC made. Wasted red zone opportunities. A blocked punt that bounced forward for a Pitt first down because our guys didn’t know the rules. Failing to wrap up Palko. Playing for overtime with one last possession. Lester reaching for a first down and fumbling (something that he kept doing into the next year!!!). Nearly 140 penalty yards. Just a sloppy game that BC gave to the Panthers. The loss contributed to BC blowing the best chance it will ever have at a BCS bowl.

9. BC 28, Colorado 62. Dec. 31, 1999. If BC is pushing the bowl streak as a major accomplishment, I am going to include this game as a reminder of life before the streak. This was an embarrassment. The team was runover by an average Buffalo squad. Because it was our first bowl under TOB, the pain did not linger. We were just happy to be here. But with time, the score and lack of effort don’t change. In the last year TOB has even admitted that he didn’t prepare the team well for this game. Not one of his shining moments.

8. BC 14, Syracuse 39. Oct. 18. 2003. This was the plane game. Long story short, BC had plane trouble and arrived very late. At least the plane showed up. The team didn’t. I won’t even get into the questions that arose about how, when and why we travel when we do. Instead what makes this loss so bad is that the team was outclassed by a really average Syracuse team. Lack of effort and our old scapegoats -- questionable special teams (including one 10 yard punt) and the wrong starter (Porter over Peterson) -- were also factors. In retrospect what bothered me most about this game is that the guys didn’t seem to care. I know travel’s a bitch sometimes, but take it out on the other guys. Don’t just give up. And the coaching staff seemingly did nothing to get the guys going. One last note…some DB named Diamond Ferri had a pretty good game including one INT.

7. BC 44, Miami 45. Oct. 18, 1997. This is the infamous OT game. Long story short, TOB went for two in OT before he had to. Later he admitted to not fully understanding the rules. I was broadcasting this game for BC student radio and no one in the press box fully understood the intricacies of the new College OT. That is understandable for idiot media types and wannabes like me. Not acceptable for head coaches. BC didn’t convert and lost the game. Bonehead for sure. Not especially painful since it was TOB’s first season and that team was probably not going to accomplish much any way.

6. BC 28, Miami 31. Oct. 23, 1999. This is the 28-point lead game. A complete choke job, meltdown. Fumbles. INTs. Letting guys get wide open. This game had it all, including the 'Canes last-second, game-winning field goal. While not epically painful seven years later, blowing a 28-point lead needs to make any top 10 list of bad games.

5. BC 17, Florida State 28. Sept. 17, 2005. BC’s first ACC game and we were behind by 14 before you knew it. Porter’s bad start was hard to watch. Yet the comeback made me think things might be different. But when our Maine Man went down later with an injury, the coaching staff hid in its shell and hoped to hang on. The cowardly coaching and the questionable play calling as Matt Ryan tried to get us back in the game merit this game's place as No. 5. If BC wins this game, they are in the inaugural ACC Championship Game.

4. BC 14, UNC 16. Nov. 5, 2005. I don’t know what is more frustrating, that I saw this loss coming two months in advance or that despite making huge errors the game was still in reach in the final minutes. Most readers know the story or could guess it if I asked -- bad special teams and the wrong QB. This was a bad UNC team. And the loss also cost us a shot at the ACC Title game. Keeping Porter in as long as TOB did is indefensible. Even John Bunting expressed shock when Porter started the second half. What was very telling was that after the game when trying to justify blowing the chance at the ACC title game, TOB said he never expected Florida State to lose. This led BC fans to believe that he might have done something different -- like play Ryan -- if he had known the stakes. Nothing like mailing it in with three games left!!

3. BC 7, Miami 18. Nov. 11, 2001. In fairness to TOB, this was one of his better coached games. That doesn’t make it less painful. Real painful. BC went toe-to-toe with one of the all-time great college teams without our best player (the suspended William Green). And in the final moments, while nearing the Miami goal line for the potential go ahead score, St. Pierre threw the flukiest interception I’ve ever seen. Here is the AP’s description “With Miami clinging to a 12-7 lead in the final minute, BC quarterback Brian St. Pierre moved his team from its own 30 to the Hurricanes 9. With just over 20 seconds left in the game, St. Pierre dropped back and tried to hit Ryan Read at about the Miami 2. But the low pass ricocheted off Miami cornerback Ed Rumph's left knee and into the hands of 262-pound defensive tackle Matt Walters at the 10. The lineman ran 10 yards before teammate Reed grabbed the ball from him at the 20 and outraced a BC defender to the end zone.” Going from victory to defeat like that always leaves a lasting scar.

2. BC 26, Notre Dame 31. Nov. 7, 1998. This will probably be my most controversial pick on the list. The season was a wash for BC and TOB was only in his second year, but this was an opportunity to upset a good Irish team that came into the game 7-1 and ranked No. 13. What moves this loss to No. 2 is the maddening ending. BC was first and goal from the ND 4 with minutes remaining and down 5. Four straight runs by Mike Cloud. Four straight stops by the ND defense. I understand giving it to your best player. I don’t understand the stubborn play calling. To this day I still wonder where was the play action pass on second or even third down.

1. BC 17, Syracuse 43. Nov. 27, 2004. Calling this the worst loss of the TOB era doesn’t even capture how painful this was. If you could break this game down into ten smaller portions, they would each easily be more painful to me than any other game on this list. Unlike the UNC game or the Pitt game when our ultimate postseason fates were still unknown, BC came into this game knowing what it had to do. Beat a bad Syracuse team and their lame duck coach at home and BC walks into the Fiesta Bowl. That was the script. Unfortunately, no one told the Orange. They came into Alumni and ran all over BC. The worst part? No one on BC responded. The team was punched in the mouth and never recovered. There were a few glimpse of hope -- including a blocked punt from Toal, but this team was not prepared mentally or strategically. Some apologist point to Paul Peterson’s injury (he broke his hand the week before) as the reason for the loss. Unacceptable. Syracuse was playing with a patchwork backfield. Some DB named Diamond Ferri was handed the ball for the first time all year and ran for 141 yards. Injuries happen. Dropped passes and shitty tackling were the big factors in BC’s loss. This game crushed me and made me question why I invest so much time into BC sports. Sure I came back to cheering for BC pretty quickly, but I still am not over this game.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ACC Revenue Review

Here are two good articles recapping the ACC meetings in Amelia Island (AJC and Charlotte Observer). Good news all around (great TV ratings, a plethora of NFL talent, the basketball coaches buying into the new league). However, one quote did catch my attention. A Clemson AD said “It's not a tremendous financial windfall whatsoever." He is referring to the approximately $7.5 million payout from the Conference’s shared revenue. While that is not a huge increase for the old ACC teams, it does represent a major increase for BC. Our old Big East payouts were lucky to be half that number on a given year and certainly would be less in the current Big East.

So in addition to joining a better academic and athletic conference with a more stable future, BC saw a surge in revenue sharing. Why was this a bad move?

BC will probably always look like the odd man out in the ACC, but this announcement reminds us again why it was the right move for the school.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dissecting the Depth Chart

Domingo on the Eagle Insider Board posted the 2006 Depth Chart. The official BC site never announced it…this was sort of a silent release. Not sure why. Maybe they just felt like this wasn’t a big deal. The only real surprise is the offensive line.

Cherilus and Beekman return to their familiar positions. This is good news. Towards the end of last season they were dominating. Next year they should be even more so. Look for many of the big runs to break from the right side.

Sheridan at Center. Heading into the offseason, I was comfortable with the thought of Sheridan starting. I guess the coaching staff was not as it seems everyone from Hall to Beekman was considered for the starting slot. The fact that the coaches came back to Sheridan confuses me. What were they worried about in the first place? He always played well in the past and has in-game experience. I don’t think he’ll be as good as Koppen or Woody, but I think Sheridan will be respectable and a solid performer next year.

Marten at Left Tackle. The most important position on the line. I think he will handle it well. I don’t think speed will be an issue. Does he have the strength to go solo against a bull rusher? I think so.

Finally, Poles at Left Guard. Probably the biggest question mark. I have confidence in him based on the limited exposure I've had.

Biggest surprise? Ty Hall as a back up. The kid has more experience than Poles and Sheridan and challenged for two starting spots, yet is still not named a starter. I am not sure what the issue is. I do take comfort in the fact that he can be slotted into nearly any role on the line if one of the starters falters.

Will the new guys be up for the challenge? The performance of the line has been so consistent under TOB that I am not worried. Coaching changes, position changes and new faces all seem to work out year after year. This year’s group will have to gel, but I expect them to be performing as a cohesive unit by October.

Farewell, Flutie

Flutie made his retirement official. Here is a link to my last post on the guy.

Every Dawg has its day

Last Friday I became an official alumnus of the University of Georgia. Don’t worry, this blog will remain strictly BC. I’ll leave the quality UGA blogging to Paul, LD, and Kyle. But indulge me for a moment while I sing the praises of UGA and explain what it was like going from full Eagle to part Dawg.

In my opinion BC is the best school in the world. I loved my time there, my education, my friends and obviously my wife. BC was the perfect school for me. When I first moved to Atlanta after graduation, I was sort of surprised by how Georgians felt about UGA. I knew it was a good school with a good football program. But having been too young to remember the Walker days and as transplanted Yankee, I always viewed the UGA faithful’s constant boasts about the school’s academics and athletics a little skeptically.

A few years ago, I decided to get my MBA. I didn’t want to put life on hold so part-time seemed like the best answer. Fortunately in Atlanta I had numerous options from which to choose. With each analysis of where I should go, UGA kept coming up as the right school for me. Everyone I know had described part-time MBA programs as slow torture, I wasn’t thrilled about battling Atlanta traffic a couple nights a week, and there was part of me that couldn’t believe after all my years of rolling my eyes at UGA folks, that I might become one of them, so in the Fall 2003 I begrudgingly applied.

A few weeks later I got a call from the Director of the program congratulating me on my acceptance. After a few minutes of talk about the program he said “there’s been something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about ever since I read your application.”

My mind started racing. Is he going to ask me about my horrendous GPA my freshman year? Or the class I had to drop Junior year? Or try to make sense of my “unique” career path? Nope. Instead he had been waiting to ask “what do you think about BC joining the ACC?” From there I knew things would be okay.

I started back in January 2004 and the past two and half years have been a blur. And while there were plenty of Sundays when I hated doing homework and tons of wasted hours on Atlanta roads, I never felt I wasted a minute being in the classroom. The UGA faculty was great and very engaging. Going back to school with some experience under my belt put many more things in perspective. I really enjoyed my classmates. The support staff was always very helpful, especially considering none of us had the time or access to Athens to deal with all the administrative BS that school entails. I am glad it is over, but I left Athens on Friday very happy with the experience and very proud to call myself a University of Georgia graduate.

Like I said this blog and my loyalty will always be with BC. Going back to school made me appreciate my time at BC more. But the experience served as a reminder of how many great schools are out there and how everyone’s time is different. Ultimately it is about finding the right environment and making the most of your time there. I still think BC is perfect, but that little school in Athens is pretty good, too.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Position Analysis: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. The guys who catch the ball are going first.

Projected Starters

WR -- Tony Gonzalez, SR, 5’9, 177lbs
WR --Kevin Challenger, JR, 5’11, 190lbs
TE -- Ryan Thompson, JR, 6’4, 254lbs

Other guys who should see time
WR -- Taylor Sele, SR, 6’0, 203lbs
WR -- Brandon Robinson, SOM, 5’11, 191lbs
WR -- Clarence Megwa, FR, 6’1, 205lbs
WR -- Rich Gunnell, FR, 5’11, 200lbs
TE -- Trey Koziol, SO, 6’5, 259lbs
TE -- Ryan Purvis, SO, 6’4, 261lbs
TE – Jon Loyte, SO, 6’6, 262lbs

TE -- Jordan McMichael, FR, 6’5, 237

BC lost 113 catches, 1, 384 yards and 10 touchdowns to graduating WRs and TEs. Fortunately there is plenty of production returning. None of these guys are playmakers like Blackmon, but I think Gonzo and Challenger represent that best set of hands we’ve had starting at wide receiver in a good five or six years. Neither are speedsters, but both have big play capability. In fact, Gonzo and Challenger should get credit for changing last season. Ryan rallied the team against Wake, but these two had some huge catches in the comeback. Both have my full confidence…and I think both will be an upgrade over the Blackmon/Lester combo.

The starting Tight End is much more of a guess. Ryan Thompson has the most experience of guys who played last year, but transfer Loyte and healthy Trey Koziol and the highly-touted true freshman Jordan McMichael will get chances to start. The Tight End position has been underperforming the past two seasons. In my mind if we can just get some good blocking and minimal drops things will be an upgrade. My guess is that Loyte will be the starter by the end of the year.

Based on their past success, Ryan’s arm and lack of size, I think you’ll see more deep balls this year and fewer crossing routes.

Final Thoughts
Any of these guys listed could end up leading the team in receptions. In fact if you look back at the past few years some of the top receivers were non-factors the year before (Blackmon in 2005 and Adams in 2001).

We are so boringly consistent that I can already guess how many receptions these guys will combine for: 210 receptions, 2000 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quick news

Busy week. Here are two more BC-related news items. I'll have a longer post later this week.

Tom Coughlin still supports a Jacksonville charity honoring Jay McGillis. A lot of people assume that Coughlin doesn't think much about BC and just viewed the job as a stepping stone. His actions say otherwise.

Congrats to BC baseball player Shawn McGill. He is the first Eagle to win ACC Player of the Week honors.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Random news items

Pedro’s wife is a BC grad.

I heard Urban Meyer tell this story before, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone write it up. Long story short: El Nokali opened a door for Jacobs. Meyer is known as a great recruiter/eye for talent and he thought Nokali would be better than Jacobs. Shows what a crap shoot recruiting can be.

Darius Bagan is having a good baseball season.

The Devils connection for the Gionta brothers.

Blackmon is impressing in Packers camp (in the notes sidebar).

Here is a feature on Bruins EVP and BC grad Charlie Jacobs.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quarterback progress

I tend to be something of a Dana Bible apologist. While I don’t think he is a genius or great offensive coordinator, I don’t think he is nearly as bad as most BC fans believe. However, one of the criticisms that I’ve thought was valid is that under Bible QBs seem to regress. Worried that Matt Ryan might be the latest to slump, I looked back at the year to year progress of our past Bible signal callers. I was surprised by what I found. (Don’t you hate when statistics get in the way of popularly held beliefs?) While Brian St. Pierre’s Senior Year will remain the prototype for Senior Year regression, others have shown progress. Even Porter and St. Pierre’s rough final seasons showed improvement in some key stats. In fairness, statistics don’t tell the whole story. When I think of St. Pierre’s 2002, I don’t think about his improved completion percentage. Instead I think about a Senior QB with all the time in the world bouncing a throw at his wide-open Tight End’s feet against Pitt (BC lost). I don't think freezing up is a Bible issue. With St. Pierre and Porter, I just don’t think either were very good college QBs. The fact that we invested so much in them or started them over other guys may speak to bigger issues with Bible (and TOB), but I don’t think it is an indictment of Bible’s quarterback coaching or play calling.

Here are the numbers.

2001St. Pierre27914953.42,01613.52510
2002St. Pierre40723758.22,98312.61817
**Hasselbeck only played one year under Bible. I included him to see if he got better or worse with the new coach. He sort of stayed the same

The only recurring theme that did disturb me was yards per completion. It seems like every QB that spent at least two seasons as a starter saw his yards per completion decline in the second year. This might support the belief that Bible pushes checkdowns and short passes. I hope not. Matt Ryan’s downfield throws were things of beauty and really sparked the team and offense last season. Taking that aspect of his game away will help no one this year.

I'll keep trying to find a good forecast for what we can expect from Ryan. This little project made me feel better about my optimism since I can now say the second year slump is a player issue, not a Bible issue.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Early prediction (unofficial)

During the Kentucky Derby preview show, ESPN ran a tease for its College Football kickoff: Boston College at Central Michigan. I knew we were playing early, but did not realize we were the first game of the season. With that reminder, here is my gut prediction on our 2006 schedule. Things will change once I’ve studied our opponents over the summer. But with Spring Practice behind us, this is how I see the season playing out right now.

Aug. 31 at Central Michigan – Win. Some teams take an anytime, anywhere mentality to scheduling. We’ve added our own little twist to the phrase: “anytime, anywhere against any MAC team.”

Sept. 9 Clemson – Win. We get Clemson at the best time of the year – early. They lost some key players, so they are one of the teams I’ll have to become more familiar with over the summer.

Sept. 16 BYU – Win. We wore on them last year. More of the same this year.

Sept. 23 at NC State – Win. This has the makings of a WTF. I still think we control.

Sept. 30 Maine – Win. Maine upset Mississippi State two years ago, so they have the ability to pull off a win. It better not happen here.

Oct. 12 Virginia Tech – Loss. I really like our chances: Virginia Tech is replacing many starters, we are at home, I love Ryan, but writing this in May, I just don’t see TOB starting 6-0.

Oct. 21 at Florida St. – Win. I know Florida State still has a ton of talent, but I really question some of their gameday coaching and think we will have a good chance here.

Oct. 28 at Buffalo – Win. Another MAC victim. At this point the team will be 7-1 and probably in the Top 10. However, I can already here the critics crying about our joke of a schedule: “they’ve only beaten two MAC teams and Maine!”

Nov. 4 at Wake Forest – Loss. I don’t really need to explain this again.

Nov. 11 Duke – Win. Duke also has potential to be a WTF, but if we lose to Wake, we’ll come into Duke looking for redemption.

Nov. 18 Maryland – Win. The honeymoon is clearly over for Fridge. At this point in the season, he’ll either have the Terps back on track or they’ll be mailing it in again. I am voting for mailing it in.

Nov. 23 at Miami – Win. I think Miami will continue to struggle this year and we’ll be coming in very strong. In past big games, our QBs played tight. I see Ryan as living for these moments.

Take a look at the scenario I just played out. 10 and freakin’ 2. Is that possible? This schedule is so light that it could happen. Like I said, I’ll keep reading stuff this summer and certainly reserve the right to change my mind, but if TOB is ever going to do it, it will be with this schedule. Now 10-2 would be fantastic, so let me put a damper on this picture. With two conference losses, I don’t think we will play for the ACC championship. I also don’t see us making a BCS game due to our strength of schedule and travel rep. So keep your fingers crossed for the Peach or Gator Bowl, but be prepared to play in the Champs Bowl.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

froogle: "boston college"

"Oh it looks good on you, though!"

Last week there was a discussion on the Eagle Insider boards about how the 'angry chicken' logo makes much of the officially licensed BC merchandise unappealing. The conversation turned to some of the atrocious hats produced. These ugly lids are obviously targeted for a younger crowd. Even though I once owned a pair of zubaz, I have now crossed over into old fart territory where I like my hats clean and traditional. (I’ve replaced zubaz with whale pants.) At least I know who is buying the ugly hats. There are other products that confound me. Who is buying the officially licensed BC mustard? Or the official mesh loofa sponge? I am a sucker for BC products, but even I draw a line. Would going to the game with this thing on be more fun?

And BC isn’t even in the Top 25 when it comes to licensing and merchandising. I cannot imagine some of the shit that might be available with say the Ohio State logo or Alabama’s colors. I am all for supporting your team, but the snob in me still believes in good taste.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Getting the most out of your talent

One last thing on the draft until next year…

While the draft isn’t the ultimate indicator of talent, it is an indicator of talent. You can’t win games on talent alone, but the more talented teams tend to win more often. After shaking my head at NC State's mediocre results given their level of talent, I thought I would take a quick look at all the ACC teams and see who does the most with their respective talent. Guess who fares pretty well? TOB and company. Like I said, the draft is far from a perfect indicator and in this short study a first rounder was given the same weight as a seventh rounder and a win over USC was given the same weight as a win over UMass. My rationale was that strength of schedule and caliber of draftee would somewhat even out over a four year period.

At the end of the day this indicates what we already know -- TOB is slightly above his fellow middle of the pack programs. However if he is ever going to break his ceiling, he will need to do a better job recruiting and developing players.

TeamPlayers drafted in the last four draftsWin Percentage last Four Season
Boston College8.700
Georgia Tech8.560
Florida State28.692
NC State14.620
VA Tech19.738
Wake Forest5.425

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Perspective on Flutie

It looks like Doug Flutie might finally retire. Flutie remains Boston College’s most famous football player and arguably the school’s most famous alum. His lasting NFL moment might his dropkick, but he strung together a long and mostly successful NFL career. He also retires as the last USFL player and as the best player in the history of the CFL. He is a Heisman Trophy winner and part of one of the most famous plays in the history of sports. All of these great and varied accomplishments cast a shadow over Doug Flutie’s time at BC. The Hail Mary was only part of his college career. In fact, Flutie was one of the best college quarterbacks of all-time.

In today’s pass happy game, extended season and bowl games counting towards stats, Flutie’s numbers don’t stand out. However, when he graduated he was the NCAA all-time passing leader and total offense leader. And it wasn’t a dink and dunk offense. It wasn’t a spread. It wasn’t a run and shoot. Flutie, and a young OC named Tom Coughlin, ran what was essentially a pro-style offense and used a variety of formations, threw to backs, Tight Ends, threw long patterns, short timing routes…they did it all. He ushered in the modern era. He led BC to a 30-11-1 record and not to slight his teammates, but this wasn’t an all-star team.

Flutie is still BC’s leader in passing, total offense, passing yards in a season, TDs in a game, Yards in a Game, Touchdowns in a season. Flutie had one 500 yard game and three 400 yard games. He rushed for more than 700 yards. He won the Maxwell award, the AP award, the UPI award, and numerous other player of the year awards. He was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Century College Football Team.

This little write up doesn’t do justice to all that Doug Flutie has accomplished on and off the field. But hopefully it will just serve as another reminder that there was more to him than just Miami.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Quick hoops update

I am in the middle of Finals and a busy work schedule so this is just a quick update for today. Look for more expansive stuff throughout the week.

First Rhode Island prospect Rakim Sanders committed to BC. There was some question as to what he would do after the turnover in assistants, so this is a good get. Kudos to Al and his new staff for keeping this kid interested.

BC is ending its basketball series with Holy Cross. Too bad as this was one of the last remnants of the old rivalry. Al was against the series as there is little upside -- BC is supposed to win and if we lose people ask what happened. Plus the series has gotten a little chippy of late. BC is filling the void with Kansas, so real hoop fans can't complain. Hopefully BC and the Cross will renew the series in a few years (it just makes sense for both teams).