Friday, June 30, 2006

Spider bites and other news

Incoming Freshman Thomas Claiborne missed an All-Star game after being hospitalized with a spider bite. Yes, a spider bite. Weird. At least he is expected to make a full recovery.

Talk about early, early decision. Jerry York received an early verbal committment from current high school sophomore forward Jimmy Hayes. This sort of stuff is actually fairly common in hockey.

Josh Beekman made the Rivals preseason All-America First Team and is on the Outland Trophy watch list.

Kaydia Kentish signed with the women's basketball team.

BC grad Lesley Visser was named as the first woman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dana Barros’ curious career continues…he quit Northeastern after two months to go work for Mayor Menino.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Draft Day and other news

Tonight is the NBA Draft. Despite suffering an injury in the 'Nova game, Craig Smith is expected to be selected. Craig is undersized, but I like his pro prospects. I think his game is most similar to Corliss Williamson, who had a solid career as an NBA role player. Smith runs the floor better than Corliss did but does not have the mid-range shot that "Big Nasty" had. Craig could be great coming off the bench for many teams and can give a coach minutes at the 3 and 4 spot. Best of luck to Cookie Monster.

According to this article, Smith could land with the Pistons late in the Second Round.

This article lists Smith as the "sleeper" of the Draft.

Blogger David Glenn has another thorough piece on ACC talent as it relates to the Draft.

Switching gears to football, The Sporting News ranked the ACC stadiums. Alumni finished 10th. So far I've only been to Georgia Tech, Clemson and Wake. Clemson is in a league of its own, but Alumni is a better experience than the other too.

Here is an article on summer commitments. BC only has four at this point, but I expect the number to increase once camp closes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bob Ryan email exchange Part II

This is the second part of my email exchange with Bob Ryan. (Part I can be found here.) In this addition we wrap up the exchange as Bob touches on changes at the Globe, the place for bloggers and how BC will do this season.

ATL_eagle: You’ve seen and been a part of ESPN’s shift from coverage to heavy opinion. You’ve seen and been a part of sport talk radio’s growth. What is your take on the latest medium -- blogs? While I don’t have the platform that you do, some blogs clearly do. Yet with the blog I can reach a very specific audience, take angles, tones or topics that you and even Michael Vega [The Globe’s BC beat writer] cannot. And in something more closely related to your day-to-day, The Globe is consolidating its newsroom with So where do you think it is all heading and what role do you see bloggers playing?

Bob Ryan: With regard to the internet, blogs, etc., they are an unavoidable way of life. The instant communication represented by the internet has vastly altered the journalistic world and we are trying to find our way through all this. Joining forces more tightly with Boston.Com was inevitable. Now Boston.Com has an obligation to better itself. I find the site sloppy and annoying. It needs much better organization.

Jimmy Durante's famous line was "Everybody wants to get into the act." And now everybody can because anyone can blog. It's out there. Nothing we can do about it, except attempt to produce your material as best you can and write it better than any blogger could ever dream of in the hopes that some people care about good writing and, perhaps, insight that is unavailable to a blogger sitting in his cellar. All this extraneous stuff clouds the issues. It's all very different, and I'm glad I am far, far closer to the end of my career than the beginning, for many reasons.

ATL_eagle: One last question. Even though I’ve told myself I won’t get fooled again, I actually think BC will have a big year in football, win 10 games and play in a real Bowl. What is your prediction?

Bob Ryan: I haven't done any homework on BC football as of yet. About all I can say is that opening AT Central Michigan is ballsy and dangerous. That league is a menace to the big boys.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bob Ryan email exchange Part I

Ealier this year in a BC preview on Deadspin I played off of Deadspin’s “Jerky Columnist” series by noting that Bob Ryan and Mike Lupica are both BC grads. While I don’t know Lupica, I have met Bob Ryan few times and can tell you he is not a jerk. In fact when I was at BC he was more than willing to come on student radio halftime shows and give his opinion on anything. Despite our meager audience Ryan would rant and rave for 10 minutes as if he were on the Sports Reporters. It was appreciated then and now as he is willing to pick up our conversations eight years later. Part I of our email exchange follows below, as we touch on BC’s potential and walking the line between journalist and alum. Tuesday I will post Part II where he touches on media, blogs and BC chances this fall.

ATL_eagle: The football season is just around the corner and the consensus from fans and analysts is more of the same for BC -- beat the little guys, lose to the heavyweights, finish about 8-4 and go to a third-tier bowl. This predictability is dividing the online fan base into two camps. One has the “we are what we are” mentality and is happy the BC runs a clean program that wins more than it loses. The other is growing frustrated by this glass ceiling and wonder if BC, and more specifically Tom O’Brien, will ever put it all together for one magical run. What do you think the upside of the program is? Can BC win the conference and real bowl game occasionally? After nine years should we expect more from O’Brien or should we just be happy that BC is a consistent winner?

Bob Ryan: I believe many BC fans take the basic success of both the basketball and football teams for granted.

BC is at a distinct recruiting disadvantage in comparison to prime rivals. The fact is that there are more (qualified) kids in high school who are looking to go to a school where their college sport is a dominant local fan and media topic than there are (qualified) high school kids who would appreciate all that a BC has to offer and are willing to accept less coverage and adulation because Boston is essentially a pro town.

I believe what BC has done in the last several years under Al Skinner is tremendous, and no more can be expected. Asked, yes. Hoped for, yes. Expected? No.

I sympathize with those who love football and who yearn to take that final step. It would be nice. But I personally don't expect more. I'm happy BC scared Notre Dame away for a while; that's for sure. But I don't expect BC to be a Top 10 team.

What did hurt, without question, was the Syracuse game in '04. I was appalled by the lackluster performance in such a big game. I would think the blame would have to start with Tom O'Brien, but he didn't miss the tackles or play with such a lack of emotion. I ripped them in print and I ould do so again.

I also think people underplayed beating the likes of BYU and Clemson on the road last year. I was in attendance at both, and I tried to convey the difference in emphasis and the general atmosphere. It's an entirely different world out there when a college team is THE focus. It just is, and it will never be that way for either BC football or basketball.

Summation: BC is pretty lucky to have Tom O'Brien. Remember the circumstances under which he came here. I'm surprised he's still here.

But I must stress that I care more personally about basketball, and have always been more of a football alumni front-runner. When the football team is down, I'm not as upset as I am when it's basketball taking hits. File that under full disclosure.

ATL_eagle: You won't find a bigger fan of Al Skinner than me. O'Brien is a much more difficult guy for me to get a hold of...even after nine years. There are so many things I like and I am thankful for, but the "what the hell happened" losses every year really take their toll as a fan. I understand the limitations of BC (school, location, etc.) but in the past fifteen years we've seen schools like Northwestern and Stanford play in BCS games. Why can't BC? Why can't O'Brien? And since you mentioned you tend to be an "alumni front-runner" and as a veteran writer with a good nose for spin and BS, do you sometimes get the sense that the Football program is constantly spinning their accomplishments (six bowl, winning seasons, grad rates) and slipping in excuses about BC's lack of tradition and tough academics and worst of all the rehashing the gambling scandal. It's been ten years -- as an alum I am tired of hearing about what a mess it was. Henning and the scandal were horrible, but he also left behind two Hasselbecks, Hovan, Damien Woody, etc. Do you think the spin would fly at Notre Dame, Alabama, etc? And since BC is under the radar in Boston are you able to write more as a fan/alum when writing about the Eagles than you would writing about the Pats or Sox?

Bob Ryan: A to last Q: Not really. I put it aside when I write about BC. Again, I don't get all worked up over football. I pretty much take it as it comes,with the exception of that horrible Syracuse display…

Northwestern had the one flicker under Barnett. Stanford? Big time in every way. No comparison.

ATL_eagle: Stanford big time? They’ve had some high points, but so have we. But this is not about the Cardinal. It’s about BC.

As you’ve said, you are generally proud but have been critical at times (most recently with BC’s decision to end the Holy Cross basketball series). Yet when you take a stand one way or another, you get skewered on the BC message boards because some feel you are being disloyal to your alma mater. Do you care what fans and alumni think about your stances?

Bob Ryan: I find it discouraging that in this day and age there are people who are so unsophisticated they don't understand a writer's role. If I'm writing about BC, I am doing so as a writer from the Boston Globe, not as Bob Ryan, BC '68. My job isn't to kiss-ass. When they do something good, like produce some very entertaining and worthy basketball teams in the last few years, or produce, as usual, excellent hockey teams, I write nice things. When they do something bad, such as mail in a vitally important game against Syracuse, or stink up the joint against Texas in the NCAA, I say so. When they do things of which I do not approve, such as leave the Big East to join a conference where they do not belong, I say so. When they drop Holy Cross in basketball, which is downright shameful, I knock them. So what they say in the chat rooms really doesn't concern me if their problem is my alleged "disloyalty" to BC. Did these chat room critics appreciate my Jack Concannon column? Probably not.

I treat BC as a journalistic enterprise the same as I do BU, Harvard, Northeaster or Northern Arizona. Occasionally I pull rank and reminisce about BC happenings, sure. Otherwise, I play it straight.

I like and admire Gene DeFilippo, even though I am opposed to his pet thing, the ACC deal. He knows this and I do not believe it has interfered with our friendship because it's business, not personal. I loathed Chet Gladchuck. That was no secret. I loved Bill Flynn. That was no secret, either.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Mass football

Massachusetts was never known as a football hotbed. Other sports dominated and the competition and coaching was considered below that of places in the Midwest and South. Due in part to the Patriots’ success things are changing and more kids are playing football. If things are getting better and if better athletes pick football, BC should benefit. One example is the number of kids going to BC from this All-Star team. Now there are still doubters out there who question the quality of these prospects. We’ll see what happens. TOB has the most at risk. If these guys blossom and are the sign of things to come, TOB’s recruiting job just got a lot easier. If they fail and the team struggles, people will point to this recruiting class.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stuff to read

The USA Today ran an ACC basketball notebook with BC featured first (yeah for alphabetical order). It includes some good quotes from Dudley and Skinner.

Craig Smith may get drafted afterall. Things are looking better and he is nearly recovered from his wrist injury.

Andy Katz is probably the most BC-friendly national writer (his dad is on the faculty). Backing the Eagles has proved fruitful since we continue to exceed national expectations. This year he has us as a preseason Top 25 team. One thing to look forward to later this summer or early fall -- Andy alerting us of this year's stud freshman. My guess is the coaching staff gives him the heads up based on the first practices and he then slips the little nugget into the Notes section of a column.

While we are not getting much respect with the mainstream football media, a few bloggers think we might have a really good year. In their roundtable answers, Sunday Morning Quarterback and Burnt Orange Nation picked us as their underrated team. I sort of agree with them. How are we not in anyone's preseason Top 25? TOB is a near lock for seven wins under most circumstances. With this year's joke of a schedule we should easily get to eight victories which would probably finish 23ish or so in the polls.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Position Analysis: Quarterbacks

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers the Quarterbacks. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here, and Part II: Running Backs here, Part III: Defensive Line here, Part IV: Special Teams here, Part V: Linebackers here).

Projected Starter
QB -- Matt Ryan, JR, 6’5, 221 lbs

Other Guy who should see time
QB -- Chris Crane, SO, 6’5, 228 lbs

In case you couldn’t tell, I am really excited about Matt Ryan’s potential. As his bio on notes: “Ryan has attempted and completed more passes and thrown for more yards and touchdowns in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined than any BC quarterback since Mark Hartsell in 1993-94.”

But this combination of experience and youth doesn’t assure success. Hartsell struggled in his final year. Quinton Porter and Brian St. Pierre both had issues in their Senior seasons too.

Ryan's numbers don’t assure success either. Yes, he throws downfield more often than Porter, but if you look at his career stats, they are strikingly similar to Quinton Porter’s prior to last season.

QBAttsCmpsTDsRushing TDsINTsYards
Porter entering 2005 season27015414271846
Ryan entering 2006 season26615610571864

We know how Porter’s breakout year ended. Will Ryan’s number continue to mirror the Maine Man’s? I don’t think so. And this is where my confidence in him becomes much more subjective. There is an air about Matty "Ice". Peterson had it. St. Pierre and Porter did not. This doesn’t mean the "it" guys are always going to play the perfect game and not make mistakes. This intangible thing is a combination of toughness, confidence, athletic ability and personality that is vital for a quarterback. Exhibit A is the Clemson game. He went into a hostile building, took a beating (see the video clip) yet got up and did enough for us to win.

Exhibit B would be the Wake comeback. He pulled off a miracle comeback against a team that had stolen games from us the prior two seasons. Momentum shifts like that can carry a team.

Ryan's record as a starter now stands at 5-1. Call me crazy, but I feel like we have a chance every time he plays. I never felt that way with St. Pierre or Porter. I did with Peterson. Yet there is no way to measure this feeling or even really explain it. I like a good stat as much as I like a good story, so just take this little nugget for what it is worth: Ryan and Peterson are the only QBs to win at least five starts in a row under TOB. Peterson’s final record ended up at 12-2.

Now enough about what will happen and love letters to the Big Man on Campus. What do we need to know about Ryan the player? He is a big kid with a big arm. He can take a hit. He throws a nice deep ball. He has a good understanding of the offense and does not lock in on his primary target.

Things Ryan needs to work on: touch on the short routes and forcing things. It is a fine line between hero and goat. Ryan was heroic in the first half in Boise but nearly coughed up the ball on a scramble late in the game.

Chris Crane enters the year as the primary backup. We haven’t seen much of him on the field. Reports from practice have been good. He fits the TOB Bible model of big guy with a brain. Hopefully our early games won’t be close and he can get some quality playing time in case he is needed later in the season.


The new Eagle in Atlanta Ross Applegate is likely to redshirt meaning Billy Flutie will probably enter the season as the emergency quarterback. I know it is just a name, but it will be cool to see Flutie on the back of a quarterback’s jersey.

Final Prediction

I think this will be a big year for BC. Most of that is based on my faith in Matt Ryan. He has the potential and enough pieces around him. Let’s hope it all comes together.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More magazine stuff

Well, I did it. I bought The Sporting News College Football Preview. Last week, I said I wasn’t going to buy it but found myself skimming it at Borders. A day later I broke down and said “what the hell?” Now after the inevitable letdown, I have sworn that I am done and will not buy Lindy’s or any other preseason publication. There is nothing BC-related left to learn. In order to save you a few bucks, here is what the different publications are saying about the Eagles.

Phil Steele’s College Preview Magazine
Overview: the best of the bunch, but I am not as enamored as some bloggers. He has the best stats and makes the most claims, but as Ian said, Steele spends way too much time hyping his past predictions in his goofy hieroglyphics.

What did he say about BC? He ranked BC 41 nationally and 3rd in the Atlantic.

Steele is very high on Marten and Cherilus. Both were listed ast 3rd team All American. Toal made the 3rd team too. He has Beekman is in Top 10 Guards. He thinks less of Matt Ryan (25th) and Whitworth (45th) relative to their peers. Dunbar, Raji and Tribble also made his national position rankings at 30, 51 and 16.

What didn’t make sense to me was how he could have so many of our Lineman ranked high nationally but only place the unit as 14th overall. Is he really expecting that much of a drop off from the new starters?

When he ranks ACC players, BC guys place pretty well. All the previously mentioned guys received some sort of honor in addition to Silva and Ramella making 4th team ACC.

As hollow as some of Steele’s formulas are, I do give him credit for his Special Teams ranking. And he is the first guy I’ve read in print to take TOB to task for our special teams. According to Steele, TOB coached teams have never ranked higher than 57th in his formula and reached a low point in 2003, when we were one of the worst in the country -- 114th.

Steele has us as a Bowl team.

The Sporting News Preseason Magazine
Overview: They are lite on stats and big on storylines. Not much unique BC content. I bought it more for the other teams. I love the anonymous quotes from coaches, but this year they weren’t as venomous.

What did they say about BC? They are more enthused about our prospects nationally than Steele. TSN ranked BC 29th nationally. Like Steele they see us as the third best team in our division.

They are very high on my 2005 MVP Josh Beekman. He made first team preseason All American. However, not one BC unit cracked their national unit rankings.

Marten and Toal made 2nd team All ACC.

The Sporting News also ranked the ACC recruiting classes. BC finished 7th; Farrell was their source so bias must be noted.

They are down on our Wide Receivers and Defensive Ends. I am unsure about the Ends, but I think people will be very surprised by the production of our WRs. Gonzo is very good. Challenger will be as productive as Lester and I think Robinson could have a breakout season.

TSN also called our staff “underrated” and said BC will be a Bowl team.

Athlon Atlantic Coast Preview
Overview: Glossy and pretty empty. I bought it because it was the first one to hit the stands. Like TSN, it is big on storylines.

What did they say about BC? They ranked us 36 nationally and 3rd in the Atlantic.

Athlon’s claim that TOB is underrated has been well documented.

They ranked our recruiting class as 9th overall in the ACC.

Most of the guys previously mentioned made some sort of ACC team. They were very high on transfer Jon Loyte. They also mention the importance of Jake Geiser.

While I give credit to The Sporting News for their blind quotes, Athlon quoted one opposing coach saying that TOB stuck with Porter too long.

Finally, they are the only magazine that thinks our Bowl streak is at risk. That is one thing I am not worried about. Our schedule is designed for us to go bowling.

OT: Goofing off in the Mods

Some things never change. If the Diet Coke Mentos things existed when I was in college, someone I know would have tried this. BC doesn’t have an engineering school, but these guys are doing us proud.

Monday, June 19, 2006

News roundup

This article on the transition between the NCAA and NFL features Derrick Knight. They artribute a lot of the challenges to size, but I really think scheme can mask a player's true talent at the college level. The primary back at BC will put up huge numbers -- it is a given with the offense. However, in the NFL without our scheme and line, it is a whole new game. All this writer has to do is look at QBs from a school like Texas Tech and measure their transition. It hyperbole, but you could plug any joe off the street in some of these situations and watch him succeed.

Incoming freshmen Alex Albright was one of defensive standouts at this Ohio All-Star game.

More Big East embarassment -- West Virginia came out nearly $1.3 million in the hole following their lawsuit against BC and the ACC.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Note the BC sleeper --
indoctrination starts early in my house.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable: Summer Magazines

Roundtable time again. In this addition, the bloggers are giving their thoughts on preseason magazines and the overrated and underrated teams of 2006. Check out The Ciskie Blog to see what other bloggers had to say. My answers are below.

Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?

While I have major complaints with all of them, I think Steele does the best job. My biggest problem is that I follow a mid-level team…intensely. And rarely do any of these mags dedicate anytime to BC, include BC players or units in their “unit rankings” or even include anything I don’t already know about BC. I understand that the business angle of putting all your resources into covering the marquee teams. It is just that as a fan of an “others receiving votes” team it can be a letdown. I can only imagine what it is like when your team is not in a BCS conference.

One other thing on the magazines, I didn’t buy the Sporting News version this year, but I love their catty anonymous quotes from other coaches. Only in college football will you see that sort of stuff.

What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

Maybe I am missing something, but why are people so high on Clemson? Tommy B. has shown the Tom O’Brien like ability to plateau around 7 or 8 wins, but I don’t think he is ready to win the conference -- not with a new quarterback. They’ve softened their out of conference schedule, but the slate still includes Spurrier and games at FSU, at VTech and at BC. I say they are a borderline Top 25 team, not a conference champion.

Turn the tables. Who is underrated?

Navy. They have an experienced team and a manageable schedule. I think they might end up with seven, possibly eight, wins.

Which conference will be the best in 2006?

While all the majors conferences seem pretty even, I think the Big XII might be the best. Two heavyweights in Texas and Oklahoma. An always dangerous Texas Tech. An emerging Nebraska. KU’s D and Hawkins in Boulder. It should be an interesting season.

Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006? Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?

I have really no idea. I am still digesting the preseason mags and trying to make sense of it all. Forgive my bias, it is just that I only turn my attention to the “non-BCS” teams when it comes time for BC to play one of them in a Bowl game.

Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.

Despite the restrictions I will go with Brady Quinn. I think he'll put up huge numbers...gigantic numbers...“I can’t believe they scored 40 again” type numbers. If their defense is somewhat decent, the Irish should finish in the Top 5 and make his Heisman a slamdunk.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Some kid named O'Dowd is on Line 1 for you"

I am only a casual observer of recruiting news, so the uniqueness of this story caught my eye. There will be more than enough open slots on our offensive line in the near future, so O'Dowd’s interest is welcome. The more curious aspect is why didn’t our staff realize how interested a highly-touted kid like O'Dowd was until he reached out to BC? Now let’s close the deal.

"Goes after the media like no one else."

The above quote is my Blogroll desription of Gunslingers. I occasionally take the Boston coverage to task, but LD really hits the mark whenever he takes aim at ESPN. His latest post hits on a topic near and dear to most BC fans' hearts -- the mainstream and oldline media obsession with Notre Dame. Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Raider Ricky Brown and other news

Here is a nice article on Ricky Brown and his first days as a NFLer. The best line of the piece goes to Warren Sapp, who said Brown is the whitest guy on the team and has the blackest name.

Brian Toal was added to the Bednarik Award Watch List. I know this is based on repuation...I hope it is also a sign that his health is improving.

CMU is already thinking about their opener against BC.

The Braves drafted Ryne Reynoso last week.

Former BC star Andrew Locke was the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Month.

Former BC star Amber Jacobs is considered a key to the Minnesota Lynx's season.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Position Analysis: Linebackers

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers Linebacker. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here, and Part II: Running Backs here, Part III: Defensive Line here, Part IV: Special Teams here).

Projected Starters
OLB -- Tyronne Pruitt, JR, 5’11, 218 lbs
MLB -- Jolonn Dunbar, JR, 6’1, 244 lbs
OLB -- Brian Toal, JR, 6'1, 238 lbs

Other guys who should see time
LB -- Mike McLaughlin, FR, 6’0, 245 lbs
LB -- Kevin Akins, SO, 6’2, 205 lbs
LB -- Robert Francois, SO, 6'2, 235 lbs

This unit should be the strength of the team. The group has speed, football smarts, good size, depth and experience on its side. Inevitably Linebackers are critical to any defense, but as I said in April, I was very encouraged by the productivity of the Linebackers last year. For the first time in a long time, the second team saw significant playing time. And when given the chance they stepped up. Now despite losing two starters, we will field a group that has onfield experience under their belts.

The biggest question mark remains Brian Toal’s health. When healthy, he is arguably the best athlete on BC’s roster -- a good special teamer, a good goalline back and a Linebacker looking for the big play. The big play mentality hurt him last season as he missed some tackles and was out of place on a few others. I don’t expect that to be an issue this year. I think his continued maturity and wake-up call from injury will provide a discipline to his play that was missing last season. Things I don’t know: if he will be on the weakside as much this year or how he will be used in blitz packages? He is a playmaker and a healthy Toal should be a first team ACC Linebacker.

One of the biggest surprises of last year was the play of Jolonn Dunbar. The converted RB came on and immediately made an impact. He became our best open-field tackler and seemed very comfortable running the defense from the middle. While he didn’t get the picks that Ray Henderson did, his play was dynamic enough to knock a few balls lose.

Tyronne Pruitt will get the other starting spot. Although he didn’t make the same impression as Dunbar, he still played very well last year. He’s smaller than Ricky Brown, so I don’t know how Spaz will use him as a starter (weakside or strong side). I remember him looking totally lost in coverage against Clemson. By Boise State he looked like a pro.


Two guys who have never played a down as Linebackers for BC could also pay big dividends. One is Redshirt Freshman Mike McLaughlin. He is a local product who was heavily hyped during recruiting. Early word from practices is that he is the real deal and will get time spelling Dunbar. The other exciting move was seeing Kevin Akins listed as a Linebacker. Coming over from Corner surprised many. But in this defense, the Linebackers are asked to do more than the Corners, so I am all for putting a tweener like him in the middle. Hopefully he will adjust quickly.

Final Prediction

It’s pretty obvious that I like what our Linebackers have to offer. Although our depth serves as insurance against injury problems, I hope everyone starts the year healthy. A good rotation made a huge difference last year and if we are limited to four players instead of six regular guys, things might start to break down. I think the defense will surprise people and that Dunbar and Toal will make All-ACC teams.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Globe's Year 1 review

This article in the Globe got people talking. Some critics looked at it as an example of Gene spinning about our successes, failures and future in the ACC. I didn't see it that way. Gene was being honest. I live down here and do think BC will continue to struggle in Spring sports. What some see as excuse making, I see as reality. However, there is no reason BC can't build its Spring Sports programs to ACC championship caliber...and that should be part of the bigger picture when looking at this article or evaluating BC's move to the ACC.

The move was not made for the 2005-2006 year. It was a huge decision designed to do what is best for the school for the long term. Our decision makers looked at the long-term horizon and said this is where BC needs to be. It wasn't about competing this year. It was about competing every year. To do that BC will need to build better facilities, deal with harsh weather and find better athletes. The school can and should -- "ever to excel" and all that stuff.

If BC had won every ACC championship this year it still would have been too early to evaluate the move. 25 years from now will be a good time to look back and ask "should BC have stayed in the ACC?" If the answer is "no" (which I doubt) it won't be because our baseball field was used as a parking lot in 2006. It will be because BC didn't put the right people in the right places. The ACC move was the right one, but there is still much to do.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Position Analysis: Special Teams

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers Special Teams. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here, and Part II: Running Backs here, Part III: Defensive Line here).

Projected Starters
K -- Ryan Ohliger, JR, 5’9, 197 lbs
P -- Johnny Ayers, JR, 6’0, 186 lbs
R -- Dejuan Tribble, JR, 5'9, 189 lbs

Other guys who should see time
P/K -- Billy Flutie, FR, 6'2, 175 lbs
R -- Brandon Robinson, SO, 5'11, 191 lbs

Special teams will suck this year. (How is that for analysis?) Unfortunately as I have said many times, our special teams have been inexcusably bad for many seasons. We are the opposite of Beamer Ball. We’ve had bad coverage, bad kickers, bad snappers and bad luck. What can we expect this year? More of the same.

Ryan Ohliger will start the season as our place kicker. The good news is that he still has a pretty strong leg and will knock his share of kickoffs into the endzone. The bad news? He is a total head case and I cannot count on him to make even the simplest kick. I’ve read about his distance issues in some preview. I don’t agree. I’ve seen him kick the ball a long way. He just cannot do it under pressure. Ever since the 2004 Wake game where he missed some chip shots, he’s been all over the place. He lost his job at one point last year only to regain it when our walk on wasn’t much better. Let’s hope some offseason practice and an upperclassman’s perspective will make him a better kicker this season.

Johnny Ayers improved greatly from his Freshman to Sophomore years. However, our coverage around him did not. As CFN mentioned “the Eagles finished 102nd in the nation in net punting and 11th in the ACC.” Unacceptable. This must improve this year.

The brightspot of our special teams will be the returns of Dejuan Tribble. He is replacing BC’s most productive return man in Blackmon, but Dejuan has shown great ability and has returned punts for scores before. While not as dynamic as Blackmon, I still think he’ll give us good field position throughout the season.

Billy Flutie can supposedly kick and punt. If either veteran falters, it will be nice to see him come off the bench and try to win some games. And if the ability to perform under pressure is genetic, than we want him out there when the game is on the line.

Final Prediction
This year will be better than last, but still not great. I would be happy if we finish in the middle of the pack statistically in the different special teams categories.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Quick updates

Busy week and slow news. Friday I will continue the position preview. In the meantime...

BC moved quickly to fill the vacant Baseball coach position. Gene hired from within and named current assistant Mikio Aoki the new head man. Aoki does have head coaching experience although not winning record. Fortunately he knows the current guys and knows what it takes to win at BC. Best of luck to him. One other note, I think he is the first Asian head coach at BC. If anyone else knows of one prior to Aoki, please let me know.

Gene also took part in an online chat. Like the TOB chat, I applaud Gene for including some challenging questions. On the flip side, the format doesn't allow for follow up, so the spin on questions about our schedule can't be challenged. But it is progress. (So far Sports Information has ignored my requests for interviews with Bible and Spaz. Maybe Gene and/or TOB will agree to something this summer.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hughes leaving

BC baseball coach Peter Hughes is leaving Boston to takeover at Virginia Tech. Hughes built a great program and turned an underachieving unit into a perennial winner. Interesting that he said the high cost of living was his reason for the move. I wonder how much of a factor the cost of living is with other non revenue sports? Best of luck to Hughes. Now it is up to Gene to find the right guy and build on Hughes' foundation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What did other coaches do after nine seasons?

Nine years should tell you everything there is to know about a coach. Yet I keep wondering if we are ever going to see TOB break through his current glass ceiling and win a true conference title or at the very least, a reputable bowl.

Although history is not always the best indicator, it can be enlightening. So I went back and tried to find coaches in similar situations to TOB and see where they stood through nine seasons and how they fared the following three seasons.

In order to compare apples to apples, I only selected coaches with the following criteria:

  • Coached at least 12 consecutive, full seasons at a BCS conference school, and
  • Began his tenure after the Division IA-IAA split.

The first real surprise? How few coaches were included on this list. High turnover is a given in coaching. However, in a sample that included 66 schools and a span covering 28 seasons, only 12 coaches lasted at least 12 seasons (some others will join the club in the next few years). That tells me that the odds are against TOB lasting another, say, five years and it also speaks to how unique TOB’s situation is: he exceeds the general expectations at BC, yet doesn’t generate much interest from better programs who might want to hire him away.

Regardless of this select club. One thing is clear -- few schools see an upswing in a coaches years 10th, 11th or 12th season.

Monday, June 05, 2006

News from around the web

Rivals is doing an offseason “where are they now” feature. Two BC heroes of old are included in the series (David Gordon and Gerard Phelan).

EDSBS reminded me, you can never see this play enough.

Craig Smith’s wrist is still hurting him. His inability to work out is also hurting his draft stock.

In other medical news, Will Blackmon broke his foot at Packer’s camp.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Who is the most important player of the 2006 season?

I am counting on a big year. An easy out of conference schedule and a solid QB has me thinking conference title. Yet a few plays or one player can make a difference between Boise and Pasadena. So who is the most important player of the season? Ryan? Silva? Toal? Nope. All are valuable. But we have enough of a team in place that we can still rally if one those guys falters. The real lynchpin is actually Jack Geiser. Who the hell is Jack Geiser you ask? He is the true freshman we’ve recruited as a Long Snapper.

Now I’ll admit that it is a bit of a stretch to say that the season rides on his ability to fling a ball accurately between his legs. But Geiser will play a pivotal role. BC special teams have been consistently sloppy for the past six or seven seasons. The low point came in 2003. That year BC had two punts blocked, our punter sacked, saw a bad snap fumbled away and another result in a safety. There were also plenty of wounded ducks and bad returns in 2003 that all started with bad snaps. The source of the miscues? Francois Brochu’s injury. Our reliable Long Snapper red-shirted and BC rotated a series of guys who couldn’t get it done. The field goals weren’t helped either by the erratic snaps. Special teams clearly cost us the WVU and Miami games that year and nearly cost us ND and Rutgers.

So now Geiser comes in with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I am prepared for BC special teams to be an inconsistent mess…they always are. But if Geiser can’t get it done, things will quickly go from bad to worse. Keep your fingers crossed and have the TUMs handy.