Monday, December 20, 2004

Breaking down the talking points

The unfortunate thing about rooting for a team with a limited following is that every time you watch a game on national TV you usually know more about the team than the announcers. Sure, they have access that I don't have, but most read the Sports Information talking points and have pat interviews with the coaches. Like any profession, some announcers work harder than others and some are spread thin on other assignments (other games, local sports, etc.). I remember when I was at BC, former radio play-by-play man Sean Grande used to watch tapes of all the opponents games. While Gary Thorne (who I usually like) was really unprepared for the BC-WVU game this season. So for anyone watching the Continental Tire Bowl on Dec. 30 at 1 PM ET on ESPN 2, I will breakdown the predictable talking points in a series of posts as we lead up to the bowl game.

  • Talking point: "BC Head Coach Tom O'Brien rebuilt this program after it was 'rocked' by a gambling scandal."
  • Reality: The gambling scandal was bad. A major black eye and the second one to hit the school (the hoops squad was involved in a point shaving scheme in the early '80s). BUT, the actual damage to the football team was minimal. There were 13 players suspended and all the suspensions took place in 1996. No loss of scholarships. No TV penalties. And as a bonus it was the final nail in the coffin for unpopular coach Dan Henning. This also came at a time when our President Father Leahy was in his first year on the job. He along with some important alums forced out unpopular AD Chet Gladchuk. The uncertainty led to a series of people turning their nose up at the job (many of whom are now out of jobs -- I'll address this in later TOB posts). There was also confusion as Chet was offering the job to people without authority. Regardless, BC ended up hiring Virginia Offensive Coordinator Tom O'Brien. O'Brien came in totally under the radar to most at BC. He was a long-time assistant to George Welsh. But he connected with Leahy and seemed to provide the disciplinarian, steady ship background that BC needed. Now outsiders might say the scenario I just described constitutes 'rocked.' However, Tom O'Brien (TOB for short) inherited many advantages when taking over including: a premium of talent and future NFLers like both Hasselbecks, Mike Cloud, Damien Woody, Frank Chamberlain, Chris Hovan, and others; as mentioned before -- no NCAA penalties; Miami on probation; and after Henning, the scandal and the new administration -- he had lower expectations. There was no pressure on Tom O'Brien to win when he arrived. Many schools would gladly be 'rocked' like BC was when TOB took over.

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