Thursday, June 30, 2005

One more day

Today is BC’s final day in the Big East. To celebrate the occasion predictable BC critic Mark Blaudschun recapped the history of the move and the behind the scenes dealing. Mark is a big Big East guy and has not been flattering to BC in this process and clearly announced his pessimism about our ability to compete in the ACC. He also quotes an unnamed athletic official (most likely former Syrcause AD Jake Crouthamel or former UConn AD Lew Perkins) who accuses BC of lying and double dealing -- despite legal evidence that counters the accusation. It’s too bad he took this angle because other papers in ACC country used this chance to write positive things. You’d think BC would get the benefit of the doubt from their local paper. The Herald didn’t even bother with an article.

The whole thing was a mess and tomorrow I will focus solely on the positive and the bright future ahead in the ACC. When the drama was in full swing in 2003, I thought a great book could be written about all characters involved. But the moment has passed and I know I don’t want to revisit what happened. But this shows that being in the big pond has its benefits.

Although BC will be a member of the ACC July 1, we get skipped in this year’s ACC-Big Ten challenge due to the imbalance in members. If Notre Dame would just join the Big Ten, this wouldn’t be a problem! (At this point I get a kick out of baiting Irish fans.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blogpoll Q&A

The guys running the Blog Poll are putting out questions for the participants to answer. It is sort of a way to fill space in the summer and get people familiar with each other’s blogs. Here is my take on this week’s questions. Check out Every Day Should be Saturday for other blogger’s opinions.

1. What's THE critical game of the season on the
national scene? We're looking for the one that will
influence the most outcomes in a single span of sixty

Believe it or not Pittsburgh at Louisville on November 3. How can a Thursday night game at Papa John’s be so important? Because I think that might be the Cardinals only hurdle on their ridiculously easy schedule. The Big East is terrible and there is no reason to think Louisville won’t run the table. In past years that might have meant a trip to Memphis. This year -- as a member of a BCS conference -- it could mean a trip to Pasadena. If the Cardinals waltz into the Rose Bowl, outraged fans of one-loss teams from the SEC, Big Ten and other real conferences will force another change on the BCS.

2. What's the most critical matchup for your team?

The most critical game for BC is Florida State’s first visit to the Heights on September 17. Aside from it being the first official ACC game, it will also be the first real test of BC’s experienced but flawed team. Everyone has a different opinion how this division will play out, but if BC wins, it could be a confidence boost the team could ride into the Conference Championship in Jacksonville.

3. What's your wingnut upset prediction of year?

How about Notre Dame ending USC’s win streak? Getting killed by USC was probably the biggest factor in Ty Willingham’s demise. While not filled with as much talent as the Trojans, I think Charlie Weis might be able to surprise the Trojans here. Plus Weis was part of those Parcells staffs that always had Pete’s number in the NFL.

The national guys love BC and TOB

Some love from the guys at CFN. And Stewart Mandel lists O’Brien as one of his most underrated coaches. When BC fans read this stuff, many laugh at the thought of O’Brien leading this team to any major bowl and cry that he is overrated.

In defense of the national writers (some are good, some are bad) most DO NOT know as much about BC as diehard BC fans know about BC. They couldn’t. The good beat guys read a lot and watch a lot of football. But they are watching the top teams. They might see one whole BC game a year and a few quarters here and there. In those moments BC comes off as the little engine that could. They also look at TOB’s record and say “man, he wins 8 games and bowl every year.” They are less likely to pay attention to the games when the team does not come to play (Syracuse) or notice when TOB does his best to lower expectations in every interview.

So whose perspective and predictions are right: the BC fans or the national guys?

I would like to think that I am a balanced BC fan and here is my take. TOB is frustrating but he has done many good things for the school and team. I don’t think we will ever get to that next level (BCS games). I don’t think he is underrated or overrated -- he is what he is: a pretty good, but not great, college football coach. As for the sleeper team stuff…I don’t know. I am devouring previews and still don’t know what to expect in the ACC. I’ll make my official preseason prediction in July.

Monday, June 27, 2005

News and notes

More information is coming out about the death of Scott Laio. It seems the BC rower died from a fluid and electrolyte imbalance and heat stress. So sad. With all the top amateur and professional athletes pushing themselves to extremes in weight and heat, I am surprised we don't hear about more cases like this.

There's news out of South Bend about Notre Dame's future schedule and BC’s tentative place on it. Despite reports, I think BC will remain on the Irish's slate because unlike most other BCS conference teams, we will probably be willing to give them unbalanced series. ND blog Blue Gray Sky has us on most of the future schedules. Last time I said BC would be fine with or without the Irish, hundreds of ND fans sent me nasty emails.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Someone else's take

The ACC Area Sports Journal has a nice primer on BC titled 10 Things ACC Fans Might Not Know About Boston College. Nothing new. It does talk about most of the BC talking points: "gambling," "Flutie," and the "bowl streak." I assume most real college football fans know about those things. To the writer's credit he also gets into some things that only a BC fan would know like the tailgating issues and the fan support in Boston.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Recruiting "gurus"

As I have mentioned, I used to get excited about recruiting. Now I stay aware of the BC happenings, but temper my excitement. Too many busts and too many self-styled gurus have put a bad taste in my mouth. Years ago Evil A and I had numerous run-ins with Mike Farrell. Farrell started covering BC and has turned himself into an East Coast guy for Rivals. He occasionally appears on ESPNews. I could disparage him for numerous things, but ultimately what bothered me about Mike is that he was representing my school and influencing what happens to the team I support in an unofficial and unsanctioned capacity. And his rumored actions were displeasing to this Boston College alum. Who knows what sort of encouragement he may or may not have received from the BC staff? And who knows what truly went on during his phone calls with recruits, but ultimately the whole thing stunk. In my opinion his role as a broker/reporter crossed lines. Hence I don’t support giving these guys money and wouldn’t mind the NCAA getting in and regulating recruiting experts. Why rant now in the middle of summer? Well ESPN the magazine ran a piece about the recruitment of Myron Rolle and it confirmed a lot of my worst fears about the process. Fellow bloggers have already picked it apart (here and here). The article really targets Tom Lemming, but there are many sharks in these waters. (BTW, Lemming has been known to shill for BC too.)

My advice to fans: don’t get emotional and don’t pay for anything. My advice to players and their families: don’t tell the “gurus” anything. Dealing with the coaches is hard enough.

Hockey and hoops news

Two items of interest from Friday’s Boston papers. First, the Celtics signed a new radio deal. Their games will be broadcast on WRKO the sister station to sports powerhouse WEEI. Unfortunately for Boston College, the Celtics will take priority and preempt any conflicting Eagles basketball games. Hopefully, Entercom (the parent of both stations) will announce BC’s radio alternative soon.

The other interesting item was that Boston lost out on its bid for any of the upcoming NCAA Hockey finals. Hockey has not caught on in the Sun Belt, but the Sun Belt cities obviously were aggressive in winning the rights to host the championships. This is a sign that Boston and local area ADs cannot count on hosting the NCAAs every few years.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

York has cancer

BC hockey coach Jerry York was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Reports seem optimistic about his recovery. Jerry’s a nice guy, championship coach and has the charisma that other BC coaches are lacking at times. I wish him the best and hopefully he won't miss a beat.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Spring recap/preview Part V

Defensive Backs

BC cannot seem to develop a tall corner. Lenny Walls was a JUCO transfer who fell in our laps and Will Blackmon -- while talented -- did not work out. So now we are a back where we have been the majority of TOB’s reign -- starting two undersized corners that will have to face a series of tall receivers in a pass-focused conference. Fortunately both projected starters are serviceable and our coverage doesn’t leave them too exposed.

Senior Jazzmen Williams is listed at 5’8 but is reliable. His playing time has increased each season and I expect him to be his consistent self this year. Williams is not much of a ball hawk, only grabbing one interception last season.

DeJaun Tribble, while also short at 5’9, showed a lot of promise as a freshman. His play was so strong that he unseated the oft-mentioned Will Blackmon as a starter midway through the season. After getting a DNP and being a nonfactor in the opener, Tribble worked his way into the backfield and saw some time on special teams too. He also grabbed two picks. Like his predecessor, I expect the opponents to challenge Tribble deap. He needs to stay focused and let his speed make up for his lack of size.

Strong Safety is the strength of the defensive backfield. Much was expected of Ryan Glasper and he played well. The real surprise was Jamie Silva, who proved to be a great runner supporter and one of those hustle/energy guys that the team needs. Both should get playing time next year. The BC-issued preview makes it seem like they will split time. I would rather see Glasper move to Free Safety and keep Silva at the Strong spot. Because it is clear both show more promise than the projected starter at Free Safety -- Larry Anan. Larry looked lost at times last year and got attention with some bonehead plays. Maybe he’ll be more comfortable at FS this season. Taji Morris, Brad Mueller and Kevin Akins should all get some playing time this season too.

I worry about this group, because their adjustment to the ACC will probably be the most demanding. The Big East had some passing teams and unique offenses but not the overall depth that the ACC has. Plus last season the defensive line put so much pressure on the opposing QBs that it relieved a lot of the strain on our DBs.

I like our safeties and just hope they can help our corners. I also hope Tribble can develop into an all-conference player. After QB, this is the second biggest area of concern.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dudley talks; Gurley goes South

Nice Q&A with Jared Dudley on his Under 21 tryout, his summer plans and thoughts on next season. TRay will be disappointed to hear that the guys don’t hang or call each other much in the summer. When we were on the Heights, the hoops players had each other on speed dial.

Newton North hoops prospect Anthony Gurley is going to Wake Forest. It’s a shame to lose out on a guy who played High School ball 15 minutes from campus, but I think the recruiting class will be fine. And in my opinion most Massachusetts high school players tend to be a little overrated.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Spring recap/preview Part IV

Special teams

Inept special teams cost BC wins in 2002 and 2003. Last season was more of the same, however, the improved return game also contributed to a few key wins.

This season I expect the return team to be even stronger. Will Blackmon -- one of the nations leading punt and kick returners -- will now focus exclusively on offense and special teams. As I have repeated, Will has a ton of talent and is very good at finding the holes in the special teams coverage. Without the pressure of playing corner Will should really blossom. Plus after being a washout on defense, this might be his best and only way into the NFL. Dejaun Tribble also successfully returned some punts last season. Look for Andre Callender or one of the wideouts to get a chance to return a few kickoffs too.

Past breakdown on punts could be attributed to poor snaps. That shouldn’t be a problem this year. The consistent long snapper Francois Brochu returns for his final season in 2005. He’ll be snapping to Johnny Ayers. Ayers had a good first season. He only muffed a few and never really cost us a game. A little more consistency and our punting should be fine.

Kicking is the biggest question. Ryan Ohliger was maddening in 2004. Beyond 40 yards he was nearly perfect. Against WVU he had ice water in his veins. Other times he couldn’t make a chip shot. His best play was a fake that he turned into a TD against North Carolina. I am attributing most of his troubles to freshman jitters. If he can’t improve, he’ll get the hook.

Overall I feel good about our special teams. I don’t expect them to win games Beamer style, but as long as they don’t blow it, BC should be okay.

Dudley gets an invite

USA Basketball invited Jared Dudley to the Dallas tryouts for the Under 21 team. I imagine he doesn't stand out in these sorts of events due to size and build, but anyone who watches him on a regular basis knows that he would be a leader and a clutch player on Team USA. Let's hope he makes it and plays well.

Friday, June 17, 2005

More previews, TV and blogging news

College Football News came out with their Boston College preview. In the past this site has been lacking in quality and full of inane comments and polls, so I was very surprised with this solid and for the most part, accurate preview. Hats off to the writer Pete Fiutak.

The Army game will be on national TV. I wonder if ESPN Classic will break out the old fonts and graphics like they did during live basketball coverage.

As I mentioned earlier in the week -- don’t pay for recruiting content. As the Notre Dame signing of John Ryan proved, local papers will get the news to the web for free. Some BC fans were upset about being trumped by the Irish again, but as I have stated before, I no longer get emotional about recruiting wars. I wait until they get on the field to get worked up.

They’re playing football in Canada and BC alums Marc Parenteau and Paul Peterson are getting some snaps.

Michigan Blogger Brian Cook has started a blogger poll. I am participating. We’ll see how it goes. His work has led me to other college sports bloggers like Every Day Should be Saturday, who have interesting things to say about their teams and about BC. Non-BC fans seem to be more optimistic about our chances this year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The truth about TOB

The Sporting News' Matt Hayes wrote a mailbag that caught the attention of a few BC fans. Asked to make a prediction about the Penn State job, Hayes riffed "...Tom O'Brien will skyrocket to the top of the list after Boston College's successful inaugural season in the ACC.

While I am glad that columnists anticipate a successful first season in the ACC, TOB is not going to Penn State or any other premiere job. Not gonna happen. Ever. He has already been down the aisle with two programs that would have been upgrades (Georgia Tech and Washington). In both cases he lost out when the alumni base was underwhelmed. ADs like TOB. He leaves boosters and fans cold. Just look at BC. The man has done a very good job, but his stubbornness and stoicism has the die-hards hoping that he moves on. A group that knew him well -- UVA -- passed on him and brought Al Groh back. While at UVA Groh hasn’t accomplished much more than O’Brien but perception and demeanor make a huge difference. Plus I think TOB is too smart to take the Penn State job. It is a top program and annual contender waiting to happen, but following Paterno could be tough; especially if Joe hangs around and casts a shadow. Some coaches have all the confidence in the world and think the can outshine the legend. TOB is more selective than that. If he wanted out of BC, he would be gone by now. That is why he only is mentioned when it is a strong program in a down cycle.

The only way he takes over Penn State or gets hired for any other primo job is if we have an amazing Top 5, conference championship type season. And if that happens BC will pull out every thing we have to keep him.

My bet is he is on the Heights until he retires.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

No (BC) stone unturned

Summer remains a lean news time, but here are a few items of note.

Akida McClain cut a deal. It looks like he will avoid any serious punishment. This is good news for BC basketball. With Sean Williams’ future uncertain, Akida should get some minutes spelling Smith and Dudley.

Two takes on BC’s preparation for joining the ACC. I don’t love the new slogan, but it is certainly not the worst one to come out of BC sports marketing. I am glad Gene dismissed the exorbitant travel costs claim that the Big East schools threw around. In the article from Charlottesville Daily Progress, they mention an ACC celebration party at Fenway -- another welcome sign of the Red Sox influence.

Brian Curtis, who wrote Every Week a Season, is now a columnist for In his latest article, he says that even with our departure that the New Big East will not be that bad. I have to disagree. Louisville is one of the best teams in the country, but I expect the rest of the teams to really struggle out of conference.

Nice article on some BC baseball recruits. Looking for BC stuff on the web has confirmed one of my beliefs -- don’t pay for recruiting news. Most of recruits are big names somewhere and in many cases get free coverage from small-town papers. Plus any of the good stuff from the “gurus,” will end up on some message board.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday links

Gene D. is trying to mend fences with Syracuse. Some might say adding the Orange back to the schedule is about travel, but I think it is more about recruiting. A charter flight to upstate New York is not that much cheaper than one to North Carolina. But telling kids in New Jersey, New York and New England "we play over half our schedule within driving distance of your home" will counter attack any anti-ACC spin Big East coaches might use against us. While I didn't like the way Syracuse's admins ripped us and certainly didn't like losing with the Fiesta Bowl on the line, it is good to see Gene move on.

Loyal reader LBI Eagle found this ACC preview. I'll continue mine in the next few weeks.

Sportsline created a Hot Seat chart. These sorts of things are pure speculation, but fun to fill the offseason. They don't think TOB is under any sort of pressure. I agree. It will take two losing ACC seasons before firing talk would ever start.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bowl games, baseball and boxing

Interesting article in the Orlando Sentinel on the implications of the TV deal for the premiere Orlando bowl (f/k/a the Citrus Bowl) and how it will impact all the other second tier bowls. Basically the expanded BCS devauled their offering and so their payout should decline. Which means conferences might switch slots. The Sentinel makes a prediction on how it will shake out. Still doesn't look good for a Disney World trip for the Eagles, but most of the ACC options appear to be in the southeast.

MLB held its draft this week. I normally don't cover much BC baseball but it is nice to see a few kids get drafted. If I had only been tall and a lefty. Future draftees that aren't on the Cape are now playing in the Berkshires.

Finally, an odd note at the end of Ron Borges' column. It seems that former BC lineman Derric Rossy is now a boxer. The heavyweight ranks are so thin now, maybe he can make a run.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Summer shopping

Nice article on Sportsline about Al Skinner's penchant for finding underrecruited and overlooked stars. The article also mentions a chance for Williams to return. If he can be back for conference play in January, I don't think the team will miss a beat. And if the staff finds another star -- even better.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Slow news week

BYU confirmed ABC will pick up the BC game. This is regional coverage, so I imagine it will play in New England and the Rockies. Anyone else who wants to see it will have to get Gameplan or find a sports bar. The game is Labor Day weekend so I'll probably be at the Sports Grill at Carillon Beach (where I watched the Syracuse debacle).

More Flutie-Pats stuff.

Speaking of Doug, Boston College's endowment passed the $1 billion mark. Many attribute the school's ascendancy to Flutie's play. He was a factor, but alumni check books and Father Monan's focused fund raising transformed the school to what it is today.

TRay found another Peterson story. This one focuses on his adjustment to Canada.

Spring recap/preview Part III


This is the easiest section of the recap/previews to write because it should be the strength of the team this season.

Superstar Brian Toal earned Big East Rookie honors and adjusted to the speed of the college game quickly in his first season. His brother got better each year while at BC, so there is optimism that he’ll be even better this season. If his learning curve accelerates, there is no reason to think he can’t make 90 tackles next season. Toal and the other returning starters, Ray Henderson and Ricky Brown, combined for 233 tackles last season.

Ray Henderson had a nice season and made a few big interceptions last year, but he is not a dominant player. He can pick his moments and seems to read opposing QBs well (it doesn’t hurt that he was a former QB). He also comes off as one of those screamer/emotional leader types. I usually want those guys to zip it, but it may be needed given TOB’s stoic nature.

Brown had the most unassuming 80 tackle season you could imagine. He is finally getting a chance to play to his potential. Hopefully he’ll have another strong year.

With the front four applying a lot of pressure last season, these three were able to drop back and wait for action to come to them. They probably won’t have that same luxury this year. Our opponents will probably pass more and our defensive line is not as experienced.

For years, BC fans bemoaned the state of our LB corp. In addition to talent, this season brings depth as both Jolonn Dunbar and Tryonne Pruitt showed ability and aggressiveness in spot duty last year.

Overall I expect these guys to hold the defense together. Spaz plays a frustrating bend but don’t break style and will rarely blitz the LBs. I just hope they can keep up with the more talented playmakers in the ACC and don’t freelance too much.