TOB is downplaying the importance of this game. He should. It is just another ACC game for him. While Jags will never admit it, this game means everything. Because of the way the season has played out and because of the guy on the opposite sidelines, Saturday’s results will have short and long term effects on Jags’ future.
First the simple: Jags needs this game to get to six wins. 6-6 is the minimum required for bowl eligibility. 6-6 should also be the minimum requirement for a BC coach. Given the way we schedule there is no reason we should finish below that. 6-6 with this defense would be a disappointing season. While we can get to the .500 record even if we lose, NC State is one of our weakest opponents. With the wide open nature of the ACC you need to get every W you can.
I usually try to avoid the hokey mental aspect of sports. It is completely subjective and impossible to measure. Yet there is still a place for it in college sports. Toal’s UCF halftime speech showed that the confidence on this team is teetering. We responded once to an emotional momement. How many times can that happen going forward? Controlling and winning this game will help this team mentally. They need to believe they can win and they need to believe that the offense can score. Therefore Jags and Logan need to handle the QB situation delicately.
There is no draft in college football. There is also no playoff. Unfortunately that means perception matters. If Jags cannot beat a bad NC State team the media will start to question his ability to win altogether. Last season will be yesterday's news. The media will certainly heap credit on TOB for beating his former players and pupil. Worse than the media will be other coaches. A loss to NC State will be used against us in every recruiting conversation going forward. Finally, this game will influence how many casual BC fans perceive Jags. Lose to TOB, and you’ll hear chatter: “we should have kept O’Brien.” These folks don’t follow the situation closely enough to know what TOB could or could not do. Nor do they give much thought to the roster holes he left behind. All they will know is that we can’t beat our old coach. And that negative perception will hurt in fundraising, atmosphere and in attendance.
In perception, I mentioned other coaches using a loss to TOB against Jags. No one will use it more than TOB and the NC State staff. We are going head to head with them for a few Midwest recruits. If we lose, TOB can pitch his own rebuilding project as the future and claim that Jags is headed down the wrong road at BC.
Each division game has equal importance, but as far as stability and perception, the only game that approaches NC State in significance is Notre Dame. It’s not fair. It’s not rational. Smart fans can see beyond TOB. But the smart fans are not who will make or break Jags. He need to win this game for the season and the future.
This is a must win.