Friday, January 01, 2010

Buffalo Wild Wings and ESPN get it right

During the season ESPN and Buffalo Wild Wings have counted down the top 30 plays in the last 30 years. This week they named Flutie's Hail Mary No. 1. For those who don't remember the game or think it has been eclipsed since, let me set you straight with some context.

-- Flutie was a huge star. He was Tim Tebow before Tebow. What's amazing though about Flutie's prominence was he did it from BC and prior to the internet, ESPN's talking heads and when there was only one game on a week. Glowing features in Sports Illustrated were big factors in making him a household name. He graduated holding most college football passing records.
-- Miami was a big deal too. '84 was a down year for the 'Canes, but they were the defending National Champions and had gained a big following. Just watch ESPN's new documentary "The U" to see how hot the 'Canes were.
-- Both teams were cutting edge. We take passing for granted now, but at that time teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma were dominating with ground attacks. Miami and BC were using pro style offenses and were setting records for passing and points.
-- It was the only game on during a Thanksgiving weekend. Once again this was before there were 300 channels and every game was on tv. The whole country tuned in and the drama only built.

The game was that good. So good we are still talking about it 25 years later. The Hail Mary is No. 1 because it was the culmination of this momentous game and the conclusion of one of the most historic college football careers. It is No. 1 because everyone remembers where they were when they watched it. As I said at the beginning, ESPN and Buffalo Wild Wings got it right.


mod34b said...

Great stuff. It never gets old.

And, yes, I remember being a recent BC grad in the basement of my house with my father watching the game and then going nuts upon witnessing THE HAIL MARY!

I can still watch that pass and still smile every time.

I found a site showing college rosters and also showing which guys went to the NFL...Check out how many guys who were on the respective BC and Miami rosters that day went on the NFL careers -- some very brief, some long and outstanding:


Darren Twombly, Center
Steve Trapilo,OL
Troy Stradford, RB
Mike Ruth, DL
Bill Romanowski, LB
Shawn Regent, OL
Tom Porell, DL
Jeff Oliver, OL
Mark MacDonald, OL
Chuck Gorecki, DL
John Galvin, LB
Doug Flutie, QB
Darren Flutie, WR
John Bosa, DL


Coach Jimmy Johnson
Asst Coach Butch Davis
Brian Blades, Wr
Melvin Bratton,RB
Willie Broughton, DL
Eddie Brown, WR
Jerome Brown, DL
Julio Cortes,LB
Kevin Fagan, DL
Darrell Fullington, DB
David Heffernan, OL
Charles Henry, TE
Alonzo Highsmith, RB
Bernie Kosar, QB
Victor Morris,LB
Winston Moss, LB
Paul O'Connor, OL
Brett Perriman, WR
Gregg Rakoczy, Ol
Alfredo Roberts, WR
Stanley Shakespeare, WR
Willie Smith, TE
Danny Stubbs, LB
Reggie Sutton, DB
Vinny Testaverde, QB
Warren Williams, RB

eagleboston said...


It is probably very difficult for people under 35 to get it with the Flutie play. Here are some more insights:

1) Growing up in Iowa, the only Catholic football team I ever heard of was Notre Dame, Flutie changed that.

2) In the early 80's, I don't believe ESPN was broadcasting college games yet. There were typically 3 games on each Saturday and that was it. Most fans listened to games on the radio. You could not get scores over the internet or via text. Thus, the halftime shows, where they read every single score, were huge. "And in Chestnut Hill, Boston College beat Holy Cross 42-28 and Doug Flutie threw for an amazing 375 yards." Every week, I kept hearing about this kid Flutie.

3)The game was on CBS and was promoted for a couple of weeks prior on the NFL broadcasts. Also, contrary to myth, Flutie had already won the Heisman before the Miami game, so people tuned into to see the Heisman winner, as well as the popular Miami team. And this was before Black Friday became such a big-deal shopping day. Thus, almost anyone who had the TV on that day was watching this game (in the Northeast, many cities did not even have cable yet).

4) The game, even prior to the pass, was an amazing back and forth, epic affair. It would have been one of the greatest college games even if Flutie never hit the miracle pass. If you get the chance, watch the game on ESPN Classic. As Mod 34B said, you will be amazed at how many future NFL players were in this game.

5) The way the circumstances came together are really extraordinary when you think about it. The whole nation was tuned in. Flutie had brought college football to the baseball crazy Northeast. They were playing a rebel Miami team that everyone loved or hated. Doug had won the Heisman, so expectations were high. Hollywood could not write a better script. And not only does he put in an amazing passing performance, but he topped it off with a miracle comeback drive concluded with a Hail Flutie pass that was caught by Gerard Phelan (who never seems to get enough credit for catching the ball in the rain and the lights).

It remains to this day, the greatest game in BC sports history.

mod34b said...

EagleBoston --

good points.

However, this statment is slightly incorrect: " contrary to myth, Flutie had already won the Heisman before the Miami game, so people tuned into to see the Heisman winner."

The game against Miami was on November 23, 1984

The Heisman winner was announced Dec. 1, 1984

However, I think you meant the following (as stated on Wiki) "Although many people think that play clinched the Heisman Trophy for Flutie, the voting was already completed before that game"

So, while the game did not effect the Heisman voting, the fans did not tune in too see Flutie, the Heisman winner, simply because he had not yet been announced as the winner.

Dan said...

Wow, did we just lose 52-51 to Maine?

This is gonna be a long season.

ATL, can you post a countdown clock to next year's kickoff or maybe the spring game so that we have something to look forward to?

mod34b said...

Lost to Kenpom #252 Maine.

and the game was a home game.


Big Jack Krack said...

As I said awhile back - we STINK.

Take inventory, Al - take inventory. Maybe we're a little short in the coaching bin.

I've loved basketball all my life. I cannot watch this team or the stupid flex or the Adventures in Inbounding, etc.


Ry said...

brutal brutal brutal game today. we looked awful, there's no sugarcoating it.

despite playing at times with a "big lineup" of trapani, southern, roche, sanders, and paris we couldn't penetrate at all...settling for crappy shots from the wings or forcing it to no avail. we were up by about 5 with 4 or 5 left and just settled in showing no ability to close the game out. i sat there at one point and said to myself, "these guys don't even look like they enjoy playing with each other." sanders pouts on the court and even went so far as to walk away from the timeout huddle after skinner yanked him for chucking a three early in the shot clock late in the game with the lead.

i continue to think that the team has potential, but it is clear that they have trouble deciding when they should actually show up and play.

CT said...

there have to be deeper issues on this team.

skinner's rope keeps getting shorter. coaching is not winning any games.

i thought this team was going to be pretty good. it increasingly looks like i was very, very wrong.

too bad.

go hockey.

Eagle in Brighton said...

RE: BBall - yikes.

RE: Hockey - Big game v. Denver. York's boys will be the brigh spot until spring practice begins...

mod34b said...

From AP:

It was Maine’s first win over Boston College since the 1924-25 season.

Neither team scored after Maine’s Sean McNally (15 points) made a pair of free throws with 1:10 remaining.


The Eagles routed Maine 99-61 last season.

Danny Boy said...

Eagle in Brighton, hockey needs to look a lot better than they did last night against St. Lawrence. All night they looked lackadaisical and were sloppy with the puck.

If we gave up 5 unanswered to the saints, I'm nervous for DU tonight.

I'm hoping it was just jet lag. All the guys looked beat (and even a little dishearted) coming off the ice last night.

SaturdaysOnShea said...

Although I was not much of a BC fan until I walked onto the Heights for the first time five years ago, I still knew who Flutie was and was at least faintly aware of what he did. Watching that clip simply hearing "He did it! He did it! Flutie did it!" sends chills up my own spine even now. But I agree that recent grads don't fully appreciate how big that play actually was and that Flutie really did help put BC on the national and college football map.

A few years ago I had a summer job working as a groundskeeper at this apartment complex owned by friends of ours. I got talking to this older gentlman and when he found out that i went to BC his face lit up. It turned out he grew up with Gerard Phelan's dad and kept going on and on about how he remembered watching the Hail Mary and how unbelievable of a play it was. I think that's pretty indicative of how big this play was for Boston College.

And didn't Forbes magazine put out an article a few weeks ago talking about how that play helped popularize college football throughout the nation, as well as helping ESPN?

Harry Collins said...

I went to the game. Unlike Harvard (who is actually pretty good and has a player better than anyone on BC), Maine sucks. This was not a case of a lesser team playing out of their minds and stealing one at the buzzer. No, the Black Bears are a very crappy team and played like a very crappy team today. BC just completely out-sucked them in astounding fashion. This game may be the worst effort I have seen from a BC team in 20 years, which is saying a lot, as Skinner teams perrenially submit a few WTF games as we all know.

BC slogged their way through the first 32 minutes, never pulling ahead by more than 6 or 7 points. Then, with 8 minutes left, they absolutely stopped playing. It was pretty amazing. They stopped playing even the mediocre, crappy, mail-it-in garbage that they "showed" up with today. I checked the play-by-play to confirm what I saw - BC did not score a bucket in 14 straight trips down the floor. And that was only the half of it - there were ugly, chuck it up shots from three, sprinkled around unbelievable turnovers (a lazy Jackson pass on the wing comes to mind, as does Trapani holding the ball with no idea the shot clock was running out right AFTER A FRIGGIN TIMEOUT).

Whatta lost opportunity. With URI (11-1 and a win today over Okla State), Northen Iowa (10-1) and Harvard (9-3) all showing that those losses weren't nearly as bad as they looked at the time, BC just punched its NIT tournament ticket by completely embrassing itself at home to a 7-5 mid-major they beat by 40 last year.

I have generally been a Skinner proponent over the years, faults and all, and only a yahoo can argue he hasn't been a big success at BC...7 NCAA tourneys in the '00s, a Sweet Sixteen appearance, 3 POYs, 4 NBA draft picks, Big East tourney and regular season championships, third best record in the ACC since we joined...but things have gotten really, really stale. I felt the same way at the end of the TOB era, I thought TOB was a good steward of the program, and like Al righted the ship after turmoil, but it was past time for him to go. I feel the same way about Al, 12 years is a long time for anyone to be in any job, and its an eternity in college basketball. I think we need some new blood. I know you have to be careful what you wish for (we could end up with another goddawful coach like Jimmy O'Brien), but I would welcome a change. No way Al should be fired, a guy with his credentials has defintely earned the right to leave on his terms, but I hope he is thinking like me.

BCDoubleEagle said...

The Forbes article:

mod34b said...

John --

Flutie and the "Hail Flutie" were undeniably great for BC football, but the pass or the man did not put BC on the national map. It was already there.

The so-called Flutie Effect is at best a very short term admissions-surge phenomenon, and at worst a complete myth. see

BC rose because of outstanding leaders and scholars like Father Neenan and Father Monan -- the true BC All-Stars of the 1980s! They seriously upgraded the quality of scholarship at BC and the quality of student life. Flutie helped the process along, but the Flutie success was just part of the rising tide that swept BC ever higher and continues to bring BC success.

eagleboston said...


I have the DVD of the game from ESPN Classic. I'll have to check but I believe Mussberger actually mentions Flutie going to New York to pick up the trophy during the broadcast. So he did know he was a winner prior to the game. I don't know if the CBS promos prior to the game referred to the Heisman but true college football fans would have known he was the winner at game time.

By the way, in addition to Mussberger, Ara Parsegian, the legendary Notre Dame coach, was the analyst and I think Pat Hayden was the other analyst.

eagleboston said...

I'm the classic example of the "Flutie Effect" as I matriculated in the fall of 1985. Growing up in Notre Dame country, I can only remember hearing about Boston College one time before Flutie, and that is when the basketball team was mired in a point-shaving scandal in the late 1970's (young grads, read the book "Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball").

You could probably argue my life would be dramatically different were it not for Doug Flutie. Had I not heard of BC through Flutie, I might never have applied to BC and hence would never have met my wife of 18 years, who I met my junior year.

matthew2 said...

well said harry collins... well said.

eagleboston said...

Mod 34 B,

I think we are both right about the Heisman. I just checked the DVD. Early in the 4th quarter, the broadcasters were speculating that Flutie would win. Hayden said "if Flutie wins the Heisman" and Mussberger interjected, "If, you mean WHEN."

Later, Mussberger refers to Flutie going to New York, "he will close out his career against Holy Cross, they will jet him to New York, he will go to the Downtown Athletic Club and of course he will pick up his Heisman Trophy." Perhaps Mussberger was just assuming Flutie would win because he was the clear favorite?

And yes, I do have way too much time on my hands (or I am going through serious BC football withdrawal).

Dan said...

Speaking of point shaving, was there even a line on this game? The only explanation that I will find acceptable for this one is if the players pooled their money and put $10k down on Maine with 50-1 odds.

I don't feel strong about Al one way or the other. I think he should at least see 2 more years to finish the big Junior class and see the new recruits coming in next year that look ok. I am, however, completely baffled by the fact that he has never been able to coach any of his teams into learning how to break a press.

Erik said...

Boston College took a 50-42 lead on a Tyler Roche three-point field goal with 6:01 to play, but could muster only one free throw the rest of the way.

Bravesbill said...

Big Al has got to go. This is really getting ridiculous and old. He couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag this year. Even the usual Al apologists can't come running to his defense this year, because quite frankly, what in the world would they say?

mod34b said...

Bravesbill -- you are making sense -- scary :-)

Ry said...

to play devil's advocate, and only for that reason, here is my case for al:

1) so far this year he has had his full squad for only two games

2) this team has a serious lack of leadership. Roche is the only senior and coming off the bench doesn't lend itself to taking the reins. None of the juniors seem to be willing or able to fill that role. In recent years we had guys like rice, hinnant, dudley, uka, and troy who could fit that role. We have no one doing that this year. Maybe it's a symptom of bad coaching, but it is probably part of the problem.
3) all signs point to this team playing to the level of comp. How else can you explain away our wins against majors while we lose to scrub teams. If that's the case, i expect us to compete in league play. If not, there's no way you'll find me defending skinner anymore.