10 Years of TOB Part IV: the 2006 Season
Last summer I wrote a filler piece on 10 years of TOB (Parts 1, 2 and 3). At the time he had been on campus for 10 years, but had not yet coached his 10th season at BC. This is an addendum to the series capturing his final, fateful season at the Heights.
Off the Field
(I would make this No. 2 on the old list.)
Knowing when to leave. TOB’s departure wasn’t perfect. Griping through back channels about money, stealing our recruits, moving within the conference were all disappointing aspects of the end. But he left at the right time and left the program in better shape than the one he inherited ten years ago. While we are lacking quality depth, our starting lineup is strong and experienced next season. I know he wanted the perfect job. NC State is not it and not the right fit, but he’ll make it work and his next five years in Raleigh will be more comfortable than they would have been at the Heights. Things would have boiled over eventually and neither party would have come out looking very good. TOB leaving when he did relieved both of a messy divorce. And because he moved on, both parties got what they wanted -- a new start.
Ten Best Wins
(I would have made the Clemson win his 4th best and the Virginia Tech win his 10th.)
BC 22, Virginia Tech 3. Oct. 12, 2006. A Thursday night game that saw one team pass at will, saw the defense kill the other team’s QB and saw the night capped off by great special teams. For ten years that had been Virginia Tech’s formula in beating us. This season, TOB finally turned the table. Everything was working. The game was so one sided that Virginia Tech players were bickering with one another on the sidelines and Kirk Herbstreit took shots at the Hokies. Steve Aponovicious took the game from romp to national news, as the former Superfan became celebrity kicker. The 2006 season was a disappointment for a variety of reasons, but this game was one of the high points.
BC 34, Clemson 33. Sept. 9, 2006. Unbelievably this was TOB’s first home win over a ranked team. That dubious milestone is not the reason it made the Top 10. The game was easily the most overwhelming, thrilling, confounding emotional roller coaster of the ten seasons. BC kept falling behind, only to even up the game. Jeff Smith burst on the scene with a huge 96-yard return. Clemson fought like hell and CJ Spiller’s run was one of the best I’ve even seen against BC. The defense gave up huge yards, yet made adjustments and tough plays. OT was a fitting end. But to win on a blocked extra point…I still can’t believe it. Losing games like this crushes your soul as a fan. Winning games like this provides an exhilarating high. The long term significance of this game proved to be minimal, but the excitement alone merits a spot in the Top 10.
Ten Worst Losses
(I almost put all three of the 2006 losses on the list. In the end I excluded Wake. Sure it was a tough game, but Wake deserves credit for their great season and that loss was not nearly as shameful of a performance as TOB’s work in the Miami game or the NC State game. I would put Miami at No. 4 and NC State at No. 5. Both were more painful than the 2005 loss to UNC. One other note, Jags and Spaz were both key figures in a few of these 10 losses. Fair or not, I still put the blame on TOB. His coordinators changed yet these sorts of things kept happening.)
BC 15, NC State 17. Sept. 23, 2006. TOB never won more than six games in a row. This game is a microcosm of the problem. BC road a six game win streak coming into Raleigh. The ‘Pack were starting an inexperienced QB. Amato was staving off a fan mutiny. No way a good team loses this game, right? BC did. The problems began with Special Teams. Ohliger was unreliable and missing extra points (for the third straight season). This left BC to go for two-point conversions and not attempt field goals (this would come into play later). Problem No. 2 -- head scratching play calling. BC’s WRs were having trouble with NCSU’s physical secondary. Yet we never really adjusted and O line U also couldn’t control the game on the ground when it mattered. The final problem -- horrendous defense late. With NC State needing a touchdown to win, BC stayed in the 4-3. Shocking. No prevent and yet no pressure on the young QB. Amato would prove to be the latest lame duck to beat TOB when something big was on the line.
BC 14, Miami 17. Nov. 23, 2006. This is the “we’re up, aren’t we?" game. Outsiders often wondered why so many BC fans disliked TOB. That quote and this game captured the problem. Any football fan could see that a reeling and distracted Miami team was recovering and getting back into the football game. Yet TOB felt either confident enough or jerky enough to get snide with an ESPN reporter. He’s been asked the “halftime adjustments” question hundreds of times. Why get sarcastic then? BC had the national stage and a chance to play our way into the ACC Championship game. Instead the inept offense handed another victory to a coach on his way out the door.