Friday, August 31, 2007

One day away!

First a little video from Vinny '03 to get your primed for Saturday.

Great article in the Herald on Steve Logan. It really is a shame he didn't come to BC ten years ago. This quote stood out as an example that he and the new staff understand BC.
“You’re talking about one of the best combinations of athletic ability and intellect,” said Logan. “You’re not all the way at that end where your academics are so out of sight where you can’t get a player. And then you’re not all the way on the other end where you’ve got a jock-ocracy going on.”

Here's a coverage map to clear up any confusion on what game your local ABC station will carry. If you're not on the east coast, you better find a sports bar or get ESPN Gameplan.

SundayMorningQB likes our chances of being one of the surprise teams of 2007.

During the game CSTV will have a live blog of different game including BC-Wake.

Here are some injury updates on the Deacons.

Saragin likes us more than most pollsters.

Here's an overview on the game from ACCNation.

TOB, Petercuskie and Scott Dragos look back on TOB's first game as head coach of the Eagles.

For those of you who are reading the blog for the first time this season, here is what the weekend schedule will look like:
-- Saturday morningish: Gameday post. Nothing of real substance, maybe a link or two. The purpose is to open up a post where people can comment on the game. I will not be online during TV games.
-- Saturday afternoon/night: Postgame post. Usually just a quick take. Very happy when we win. Gloomy when we lose. Once again feel free to comment.
-- Sunday afternoon/night/Monday morning: Second viewing thoughts and grades. I rewatch each game a second time with a notepad and TIVO. (Yes, I know I am nuts.) I've been doing it for three years and it is very enlightening. Because of the little one my Sundays are not as flexible as they used to be so this may occasionally get posted very late Sunday night or Monday morning.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

BC-Wake Forest Preview

[Thanks for the reader fixes. I am a one man band, so never hesitate to point out mistakes.]

Heading into the season, I think fans are grouped into three categories. Those who think we’ll never be the same without TOB, those who think Jags is the guy to take us to the next level and those who are cautiously optimistic. We’ve spent the whole offseason speculating about what’s going to happen. Saturday at 3:30, speculation ends and the new era begins. I am optimistic about everything surrounding the change. Sure, I’d rather start the season with a cupcake but there is something to be said for the sink or swim approach. Let’s hope the team feels the same way.

Theme that won’t be discussed on television.
While I am sure the announcers will talk about the hard-fought games the two teams have played over the last four years, I doubt they’ll state the one maddening aspect to both fans – that annual loser has usually played better/given the game away. In 2003 BC fell apart on Porter’s fluky fumble and followed by a late, deep touchdown. In 2004, Ohliger’s shanks left the door open for Wake to steal the game with a late TD. In 2005, Wake was kicking BC’s ass until Matt Ryan got called off the bench. People also forget that even after Ryan scored his second touchdown, Wake still moved the ball down the field and had a sure TD pass sail just over the hands of their receiver. And last season BC moved the ball up and down the field but were undone by Whitworth’s fumble and Ryan’s interception.

Three simple keys
1. Stop the big plays. Wake’s success against BC hasn’t been about methodical drives and moving the ball over and over. Instead the pattern has been we hold them for multiple series and then they make one big play. Spaz’s defenses have always fallen asleep or overpursued against misdirection offenses. Let’s hope that after four years, he’s finally made the adjustment.
2. Keep Matt Ryan on his feet. I am not all that concerned about the run blocking in the zone scheme. I think we’ll adjust well. The pass blocking does worry me. Can Cherilus contain the pass rush from the left? Can Tennant, Ramsey and Costanzo step up in their first starts? Ryan will be holding onto the ball longer under Logan. To do so and live to see NC State, he’ll need protection.
3. Make Field Goals. Seems really simple, right? We haven’t made a field goal against Wake under Jim Grobe. We are 0-5. We’ve also only taken five because our kickers have either been shaky or not had the range. A lot is being asked of Aponavicius, but he is on scholarship now. Cinderella SuperFan time is over.

Gambling Notes
-- The favorite in this matchup has not covered the past four years.
-- Grobe is 16-16 on the road
-- Grobe is 3-3 in season openers as the Head Coach at Wake Forest
The current line is BC-6

What would be a pleasant surprise?
An easy BC victory. Nothing comes easy against the Deacons…starting our season with the conference champion is a tough task…implementing a new offense should cause some sloppiness…etc. If we win with ease, I’ll have a smile on my face.

What would be a letdown? Losing again. There is a genuine excitement surrounding this program. Losing would let a lot of air out of the tires.

What would be a shocker? Getting spanked. While I respect Wake, there is no reason they should run away with this. We’ve got more experience. We’ve got the conference Player of the Year and perhaps the best defense in the Atlantic. We better put up a fight.

Bottom Line
I haven’t had this much excitement about BC football since the 2004 Syracuse game. Hope and the unknown has returned. I don’t think everything will be perfect Saturday or this season, but enough should go right for us to win.
Final Score: BC 27, Wake Forest 17

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Guest Blogger: Chris Chase

Wake Forest has provided plenty of heartbreak to BC fans. I think we should view the Deacons differently...they should serve as our example that "it" can happen. "It" being the magical season where it all comes together and we win something meaningful. To get an informed look at the Deacons' chance of repeating, I've asked Chris Chase of to answer a few questions about his alma mater.

1. Under Grobe the offense has been able to plug anyone off the bench and keep on trucking. Not so much on the defense. With the players lost to graduation, the NFL and grades, what can we expect from the Wake defense this year?

Chris Chase: One of the Fox Sports regional stations that I pay $5 a month to get, yet never watch, was showing a replay of The Orange Bowl last night. In addition to being surprised that Wake was up 3-0 early in the 2nd quarter, I was pleasantly reminded of how crisp the team's defense was. They flew to the ball, tackled in swarms and largely played mistake-free football in that game, and all season.

It's tough to imagine the Deacs D repeating that in 2007. The unit's physical and emotional leader, Jon Abbate, inexplicably skipped his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. (Most forecasts had him pegged as a late-round pick, but Abbate went undrafted and is now trying to catch-on with the Texans as a fullback. Abbate built up such goodwill at Wake during his junior season based on his play and inspirational story so he hasn't gotten much flak for bolting, but he kind of deserves some. He had the wrong people telling him the wrong things, and now he's fighting for a roster spot instead of leading his team into Chestnut Hill on Saturday.) Aaron Curry will take his place in the middle for the Deacs. He has more of the prototypical linebacker size than Abbate, but I've seen him described as "high-energy" in two places, which is oftentimes the football equivalent of hearing that a girl has a "nice personality".

Considering Abbate's early departure and the graduation of safety ballhawk Josh Gattis, the Deacs would seem to have a tough road to replicating their defensive success from 2006. Of course, one year ago nobody thought Abbate or Gattis would be first team All-ACC either. They adhered to the system and shined. There are any number of players who could do the same this year; including personal favorites Boo Robinson (DT) and Alphonso Smith (S). (Although Smith was pretty awesome last year, so that’s not much of a stretch.)
(Incidentally, when perusing through the ACC Media Guide trying to find last year's preseason all-ACC teams, I came across this startling fact: The ACC team with the most recipients of the Player of the Year award is Duke, with 10. That'd be like finding out Keanu Reeves has received the most Oscars.)

2. Riley Skinner was the suprise of the ACC last year. Do you expect a sophomore slump or do you think he takes it to the next level this year?

Chris Chase: One year ago, quarterback Ben Mauk was the anticipated savior in Winston-Salem. As a senior in high school, Mauk set national records for yardage and touchdown passes (6,540 and 76, respectively) and was named Mr. Football for the state of Ohio. But an arm injury in Wake's 2006 opener caused him to miss the entire season and forced redshirt-freshman Riley Skinner into the lineup. It's impossible to know what would have happened if Mauk hadn't hurt his arm, but it's tough to imagine that he would have led the Deacs to the Orange Bowl.

Skinner's play was indicative of Wake Forest as a team. He played effective, smart, mistake-free football all season. There weren't too many highlight reels featuring Skinner, but he was a game-manager that kept the Deacs in nearly every game (with the exception of Virginia Tech).

There's no reason to think why Skinner would regress in 2007. Wake's offensive line lost All-ACC tackle Steve Vallos, but with center Steve Justice leading an experienced unit, they should be able to keep Skinner upright, thus giving him plenty of time to see the field. As long as Skinner has that time and can be as mistake-free as he was last year, the dreaded sophomore slump should be avoided. I just hope he can stay healthy.

Skinner is frequently a key blocker in Wake's misdirection run game and he thrives in that role. At the Maryland game last year, my eyes weren't focused on whichever Deac was carrying the ball, instead I was watching Skinner set up his block, lowering his shoulder and taking out any Terrapin in the area. Since he's wearing less padding than other members of the team, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Skinner pop a shoulder out.

3. Last year was the "perfect storm" season (bad ACC, most breaks going Wake's way, injured players being replaced by even better players) for the Deacons. Can it happen again?

Chris Chase: My mantra during last year's magical run was that Wake Forest was three plays away from hiking to a bowl game in Boise and being a nice story rather than being one of the most unexpected stories in recent college football history. If you read my blog last season, or read my take on the BC game on this site, you'll know that I picked against Wake every step of the way, figuring that they couldn't possibly keep winning. In truth, though, the Deacs were only "exposed" against Virginia Tech. Their lateral running game worked against normal defenses, but against VT's speed, Wake couldn't get anything going on the ground.
Tech isn't on the schedule this season and neither is Miami. This is good. The quickest teams Wake will see are Florida State and Clemson. The Deacs crushed the 'Noles last season in what was Bobby Bowden's worst home less ever. Against Bowden's son, the Deacs held a 4th quarter lead before imploding following a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. The Deacs know they can play with both those teams, something that would have seemed unthinkable just 365 days ago. (It’s a complete joke that Florida State is ranked #19 to start the year. Maybe they’ll play well enough to earn that spot, but they did nothing last year to show that. This is why the AP and Coach’s Poll should start the first weekend in October.)

For as many breaks as Wake got last season (Duke missing a short, game-winning FG; a batted away goalline pass as time expired against UNC and the BC game that I won't discuss here), that Clemson game was well within their reach before a relatively unlucky play that turned the tide. Luck tends to even out over the course of many games, but football seasons are short. It’s unlikely that good fortune will continue to shine upon Winston-Salem, but not impossible. With 12 games on the schedule, seven of which are toss-ups, I'm going to say that Wake will win 7 or 8. They could challenge for the Atlantic Division title, but I think they'll fall short. However, any amount of wins from five to ten wouldn't shock me.

4. The BC-Wake games have been classics. What is your prediction for this year's game?

Chris Chase: My first prediction is that I'm going to be livid if the guide on my DVR is correct and ABC is showing the Nevada/Nebraska game instead of Wake/BC at 3:30 on Saturday. The only thing I'd want to see Nevada and Nebraska do against each other is - sorry, I really don't know how I intended to finish that joke.
Holy crap, did Matt Ryan really throw the ball 57 times in the Wake game last year? That's a lot. If he does that again, I'd like Wake's chances. As it is though, I'm predicting that the series stays true to form, with the home team winning a close game. In 2004, Wake won on a last-minute 40-yard TD pass. The next year, in a driving downpour in Chestnut Hill, Wake choked away a 17-0 lead and a 31-20 lead with 3:29 left. (I still contend that the refs deserved much credit for BC's win, but that doesn't matter now.) And we all know what happened last year. Three years, three close games, three wins by the home team. I say BC makes it 4-for-4; but I've been wrong before. And that's just fine with me.

Check out for more on Wake, the Redskins and his take on the sports world.

Unique accolade for Matt Ryan and other links

Busy day, so I apologize for the late post. Later today I'll have a guest blogger and on Thursday I'll post my game preview. Now for the links...

Matt Ryan may not be getting any love from the Heisman pundits, but the gay bloggers think he is cute. Ryan checks in at No. 8 in this annual feature from BoiFromTroy.

Stewart Mandel also likes Ryan (but for different reasons). As he mentioned last week, Mandel also has us in his Top 25.

Notre Dame fans dismiss the BC rivalry. This South Bend writer does not.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More wisdom from Steve Logan

The new New York Times football blog put up some great quotes from new offensive coordinator Steve Logan. Here's Logan's take on the Heisman
“That’s a looney-tune deal. You’ve got to have a great defense. You’ve got to have some help. The one thing about quarterback play, I said it on my radio show every week, the quarterback, unlike any other position in any sport, cannot and never does operate in a vacuum. If you want a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, he’d better have a pretty salty running back with him. He’d better have a wide receiver that can make a play. He’d better have an offensive line that gives him time."

I am glad we've got Logan on staff and really glad that Jags has the confidence to let his assistants talk to the media. It is another refreshing change.

A closer look at first games

Going back to Frank Leahy’s tenure, BC coaches are 6-6 in their first games. Our last three head coaches are 0-3. Not a good omen for Saturday. I’ve already looked at first years, but I thought I would take a deeper dive on the first games for the modern era (the DI split) BC coaches.

Coach: Joe Yukica
First Game: September 28, 1968 at Navy
Result: BC 49, Navy 15
Thoughts: While this game took place before the DI split, since Yukica’s reign carried into the modern era, I counted his first. Although Navy was competitive in the 1960s, ’68 was a down year for them (2-8) making this win important but less impressive. BC ended the year 6-3. This was Yukica’s first win en route to becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach. As you'll be reminded over and over during the NC State week, TOB broke Yukica’s win total last fall.

Coach: Ed Chlebek
First Game: September 16, 1978
Result: BC 7, Air Force 18
Thoughts: This was the first game of a disastrous and winless first season for Chlebek. Air Force wasn’t good in 1978 (3-8) but they had a coach who knew what he was doing (Bill Parcells). Inheriting a steady program and going winless was an ominous sign for Chlebek. Other odd losses in 1978 included getting shutout by UMass, a one-point loss to Holy Cross and flying all the way to Japan to play and lose to Temple.

Coach: Jack Bicknell
First Game: September 19, 1981
Result: BC 13, Texas A&M 12
Thoughts: This was a pretty big upset as Texas A&M was a bowl team and not much was expected of BC. Bicknell would follow this win with four straight losses. The second half of the season would get a little better when injuries forced Bicknell to use a freshman QB named Flutie. BC would finish the year 5-6.

Coach: Tom Coughlin
First Game: August 31, 1991 at Rutgers
Result: BC 13, Rutgers 20
Thoughts: While losing to Rutgers in the 1990s should have been embarrassing, this loss was to one of the Scarlett Knights’ better teams (6-5). Coughlin only won four games his first year, but his teams were competitive throughout and could have won two or three more if a few things broke his way.

Coach: Dan Henning
First Game: September 3, 1994 at Michigan
Result: BC 26, Michigan 34
Thoughts: This was my first game as a BC student and I watched it in Conte. Yes, Conte. They put it up on the scoreboard. I cannot remember the exact reason why we had to watch there (it was either not shown in Boston or it was on ESPN when the campus still didn’t have cable). BC scored early on a flea-flicker, but we couldn’t keep up with a very talented Michigan team. BC finished the season an underachieving 7-4-1. A few thrilling moments, yet ultimately coming up short would be sign of things to come in the Henning era.

Coach: Tom O’Brien
First Game: September 6, 1997 at Temple
Result: BC 21, Temple 28
Thoughts: I’ve written about this loss in the past. While expectations for TOB were low, losing like this was depressing. Temple had a few good players but were not a good team and would finish 3-8. BC would finish 4-7. After the loss, I never would have expected that TOB would become the program’s winningest coach.

Jags position probably most closely resembles Henning (taking over a winner and facing a BCS conference team). But the big differences between 1994 and now is that BC will be at home and has more talent than Wake. Let’s hope he has a different outcome than Henning.

Keep in mind that first games are important from a momentum standpoint, but not a great indicator of anything. (And I’ll be telling myself that over and over if we lose Saturday.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Season prediction Part III: what will happen

I’ve gone back and forth on this since the day TOB announced he was leaving. What would a new coach mean for this talented team? How would BC fare against such a demanding schedule? My reasons for optimism (Logan, Spaz, Matt Ryan) would then be offset by another development (our front and back loaded schedule). I’d hear or read about how good the defense was only to hear equally grim news about the offense the next day. All that is over. None of it matters Saturday as a new era begins. I think this season will be good (not as good as the best case) but enjoyable and refreshing. I’ve been pretty close with my actual predictions that past two seasons (2005 and 2006). Let’s see how this one plays out.

What will happen

Wake Forest. Win. I have the ultimate respect for Wake Forest and will never take them lightly, but I think we win comfortably this year.

NC State. Win. No doubt. Plus if we beat Wake in the opener we’ll probably move into the Top 25 and you know how TOB does against ranked teams.

At Georgia Tech. Loss. Tech’s D is very good. By the third week, you’d hope BC’s would be clicking on offense but on the road against a very good team, I have doubts.

Army. Win. Playing the service academies is always tricky, but Army is still a few years away from being good again.

UMass. Win. BC’s recent DIAA games haven’t been competitive. I don’t think that changes this year.

Bowling Green. Win. The annual MAC sacrifice continues. One of these days a MAC team is going to beat us. I don’t think it will happen this year. At 5-1, BC would be ranked again.

At Notre Dame. Win. The analysts seem pretty split on Notre Dame. I think they’ll be good but certainly beatable. We’re fortunate to play them the week before USC. I think this game will mean more to us and we come away with a win.

At Virginia Tech. Loss. I cannot see this playing out any other way. I guess it is the Blacksburg aspect that making me so pessimistic. VT was a tough home team before the tragedy. Adding that emotion to the crowd makes it that much more so. As long as we have Matt Ryan I think we can win any game, but forced to make a realistic prediction, I see a loss here.

Florida State. Win. I don’t see us losing two in a row. I also think FSU is a year or two away from being an unbeatable power again. We also need this win for divisional purposes.

At Maryland. Win. I am anticipating a down year from the Terps, so by the time we get to this game they may be mailing it in.

At Clemson. Loss. We’ve pulled off improbably wins against the Tigers in 2005 and 2006. The luck runs out here.

Miami. Win. If I am lukewarm on the Florida State makeover, put me in the skeptical column on the Miami coaching changes. I know Randy Shannon had statistically good defenses there, but to me he doesn’t represent the wholesale changes that were needed and his offensive coaching hires left me unimpressed.

A 5-3 conference record creates a very precarious bowl situation. I don’t think it gets us into an ACC championship game, therefore BCS games are eliminated. Gator and Peach/Chick Fil-a are still in play, but probably long shots. I don’t think we’re all that desirable for Orlando, so I predict we’ll fall to the Music City Bowl. Not ideal, but realistic. We’d face an SEC team (my bet is Tennessee) which would be a virtual home game for them. We win and Jags finishes his first season with a very respectable 10-3 record.

Gameweek news roundup

Matt Ryan got the hometown treatment from both Philly papers. Here is the link in the Daily News and here is the link from the Inquirer. (Thanks to Lou and LBI eagle for sending.)

These guys ripped off my idea of best case, worst case, etc...(I'll post my final part this afternoon). However, the News & Observer also posted this +- style look at BC.

The Worcester Telegram, which usually doesn't cover BC, posted a general preview.

Everyone expressed concern about our scrimmages...yet no one is mentioning Wake's uneven practices.

In pro news, Brian St. Pierre is still hanging on with the Steelers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Season Prediction Part II: best case scenario

Given the set up of our schedule, the new staff and our veteran team, this could be a fantastic season. And as Jags has been reminding us in the media, BC has been only “one game away” the last three seasons. Is this the year we get over the hump? I hope so, but remain cautiously optimistic. If the perfect season happens, this is how it could play out. Monday I’ll post my real predictions.

Best case scenario

Wake Forest. Win. No trip ups against the Deacons this year. BC runs away against a young and undermanned Wake Forest defense.

NC State. Win. The perfect day. Perfect weather, perfect day from Matt Ryan under his new QB coach, the defense shuts out Dana Bible, and bitter fans mock TOB. Everyone goes home happy.

At Georgia Tech. Win. A very tough game but the victory sends notice to the college football world that BC is for real. The team is in great position due to the 3-0 conference start.

Army. Win. Things are clicking. Not even interesting.

UMass. Win. This team is too good to have a letdown against a DIAA team. Chris Crane plays well most of the second half giving fans a glimpse of 2008.

Bowling Green. Win. Another easy game. BC is now ranked 11 and undefeated heading into Notre Dame. Fans are just a tad bit excited.

At Notre Dame.
Win. Notre Dame is still rebuilding so the win isn’t as big as some of the other triumphs over the Irish, but BC is now in the top 10. Campus gets a little rowdy Saturday night.

At Virginia Tech. Loss. The bubble bursts. BC plays a little sloppy against a very good VT on Thursday night. Jags and the players say all the right things and are still focused on winning the division.

Florida State. Win. Florida State is better than they were in 2006 but still not all the way back. BC has another impressive showing and Ryan looks like he’ll be a Heisman finalist.

At Maryland. Win. Maryland overachieved last year. I think this year will be more of a struggle for the Terps. BC wins with ease.

At Clemson. Loss. Another epic game only this time with a different end. The loss hurts but BC still controls its own destiny.

Miami. Win. Erasing all frustrations of the TOB era, BC beats the uneven Hurricanes and wins the Atlantic Division.

ACC Championship Game vs Virginia Tech. Taking on the Hokies at a neutral field makes things a little better. A back and forth game sees BC win the ACC.

The two losses are not enough to get BC in the National Championship mix nor enough to get Ryan the Heisman (however he does get invited to New York for the ceremony). As winners of the ACC, BC heads to the Orange Bowl. There they face an at large team. I am guessing Oklahoma. BC wins capping off the best season since the Flutie days.

Now for the cold water: this is reasonable but unlikely. Monday I’ll post what I think will happen.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Basketball schedule and other links

The basketball schedule was finally released. Games of note include Kansas, Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and BC and Maryland kicking off the ACC schedule in December. The best home games are Saint Louis, Kansas, UNC, NC State and UVA. Unfortunately, no Duke and no chance for College Gameday on campus.

Here is an article on Tyronne Pruitt.

Here is a clip of Craig Smith joking about the T'Wolves dance team. (Thanks to Collin for sending the link.)

Season Prediction Part I: worst case scenario

The past two seasons, I’ve done a three-part prediction. One best case, one worst case and then what I actually thought was going to happen. As you can see (2005, 2006) my predictions actuals were very easy to make during the TOB era. This year is a different story. Jags is a Wild Card and the season could go a variety of ways. As you’ll see in a few days I am optimistic about the season, but this entry is the worst-case scenario. I don’t think the following will happen, but it could. (Check in Friday for the Best Case.)

Worst Case Scenario

Wake Forest. Loss. Jim Grobe proves he was not TOB’s nemesis but rather Frank Spaziani’s as BC continues to give up big plays to Wake's motion offense. The still adjusting BC offense looks anemic.

NC State. Loss. TOB returns triumphantly. Both offenses struggle for most of the day, but Daniel Evans leads a late game-winning drive for the second straight year.

At Georgia Tech. Loss. Third straight ACC opponent. Third straight loss. Needless to say the plane ride home is very quiet. There is a pall on campus. The message boards are in full meltdown mode.

Army. Win. Finally some relief. The offense looks better. The defense shuts down the Knights. Hope returns.

UMass. Win. Another walk in the park. Matt Ryan has a big day. The defense continues its strong showing making everyone think that the second half of the ACC schedule will be better than the first three games.

Bowling Green. Win. The helter skelter October weather returns making this a sloppy game and much closer than BC fans would like. However, BC wins to get back to .500.

At Notre Dame. Loss. A close game but BC's offense takes a major step back against stiffer competition and Notre Dame’s new 3-4 scheme.

At Virginia Tech. Loss. Thursday night in Blacksburg is always rough. Add a very good VT looking for revenge and it gets ugly.

Florida State. Loss. The past two games between these teams were close and hard fought. This one is not.

At Maryland. Win. With the team’s back against the wall and the slim bowl hopes still alive, the Eagles rally and beat Maryland for the third straight year.

At Clemson. Win. Another sign of life, or a sign that Tommy Bowden’s team has checked out.

Miami. Loss. For the second straight year BC loses to Miami in a defensive struggle. Last year the loss sent us back to Charlotte. This year, it marks the end of the road.

Let me reiterate that I don’t think things will get this bad (hence the “worst case scenario”) but it is easy to see how with a new coach and quirky schedule the season could unravel quickly. Check in tomorrow for the best case

More bar fight stuff and other links

I don't want to give it any more attention than it deserves but since both papers had stories (Globe and Herald) I thought I would mention the charges against Cherilus and Tribble. I still beleive this will all blow over, will not impact the season and is ploy to get some of Gos' money. The bar owner even says that. Let's be like a bigtime football factory and sweep this under the rug move on.

BC picked up another commitment for this recruiting class. Kaleb Ramsey is a Pittsburgh native and will play defense for us.

SI predicts BC will win the Atlantic Division.

This is an article on college teams coexisting with pro teams. Notice how some coaches embrace the concept and others whine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kent State on the schedule and other links

By now most have probably read the Globe notebook that mentioned the Kent State games, but I thought I would give my quick thoughts. This is a good game and situation for BC. I'd be more concerned if we were still in the TOB soft schedule era, but Jags and Gene have shown that they are looking to strengthen our out of conference slate. If you are going to take on USC, Notre Dame and other marquee programs, I have no problem with balancing the heavyweights with a MAC team. Regular reader Kevin expressed a fear that I am sure many have: "we were lucky to escape our last two road openers against MAC teams." I am willing to serve as a MAC team's Goliath if our road game is on national TV and they agree to two games at Alumni. BC profits via exposure and then with an added future home game. With setup scheduled, I now want Gene to get these Kent State games on TV.

Speaking of TV, right now it looks like three of our non-conference home games will not be televised. There is still hope for ESPN 360 but this is really disappointing. I know that our ESPN deal precludes NESN stepping in, but I would think that the Red Sox or the ACC could reach some sort of compromise. I can see why there might not be interest in Bowling Green, but Army would do fairly well nationally and any game against another New England team would be worth NESN's time.

Here is a very good ACC Football blog.

In more Brighton news, current students better be careful off campus or they'll end up in the paddy wagon.

Stewart Mandel Interview

As some of you know long before my blogging days I worked at One of my colleagues was Stewart Mandel. Stewart’s first book "Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football" will be released later this week. His publisher was kind enough to send me a copy earlier this summer. While I am biased, I think any college football fan and regular reader of Stewart’s work on will enjoy it. He takes on all today’s college football controversies in a chapter-by-chapter format. This approach makes the book a quick read yet also gives some unique takes on seemingly stale topics. I think BC fans will especially enjoy the chapters on the conference shuffles and the breakdown of Notre Dame lore and hype.

Even with the season just around the corner, Stewart took some time out of his promotion schedule to answer a few of my questions about the book. In our exchange he also explains his coverage of BC and how he thinks our season will end.

ATL_eagle: The book covers a series of current hot topics from college football each of which could have supported its own book. Why did you decide to go in this direction instead of doing a deep dive on one topic (say a book on recruiting or the conference juggling, etc)?

Stewart Mandel:
I think one of the trickiest things about covering a sport as closely as we do, 365 days a year, it's easy to lose perspective as to the stories that are really, truly important to ALL college football fans as opposed to those that you or I may find equally interesting but in reality, appeal mostly to a small core of absolute diehards. You're right, nearly all of these topics could theoretically justify a book of their own -- and in fact, my good friend Bruce Feldman is doing just that with recruiting -- but in the grand scheme of things, I think the number of people who'd want to read a 300-page book about poll voting or conference expansion is relatively small.

By using the format that I did, I feel I was able to hit on a wide variety of topics that appeal to a more comprehensive audience, regardless of affiliation, and to be able to do so in the same kind of conversational yet (hopefully) informative manner in which I write on

There are plenty of great writers out there better suited than me to write a 300-page expose on the BCS. This book, however, more uniquely suits my chosen voice.

ATL_eagle: I felt the strongest portion of the book was the chapter on recruiting. You use history and anecdotes to prove how inaccurate the rankings are beyond the top 100 or so athletes. What you didn't touch on is how coaches feel about the process. The internet recruiting machine/monster wouldn't exist if the coaches didn't feed info to the gurus and play into the recruiting sites, yet I constantly read and hear about coaches hating the recruiting sites. Why don't they cut the sites and their writers off and not play into the kids egos or desires to get more stars?

Stewart Mandel: I don't necessarily agree with the first assertion. There are numerous coaches quoted in there, and toward the end, I talk about how, for all their complaining, most coaches (assistants more so than head coaches) actively consume these same recruiting sites and, in many cases, contribute to them. Like with anything else in this sport, coaches are always looking to gain that extra edge, and at this point, the recruiting sites are so pervasive and so influential that a coaching staff would be shooting itself in the foot if it didn't try in some way to use them to their advantage (whether by feeding info or learning info from it themselves). To answer your last part, I'm sure there are plenty of coaches who would love nothing more than to "back off" some of the more ego-inflated kids -- but then they lose risking them to someone else. And that's a risk they can't afford.

ATL_eagle: While I tend to be an apologist for you on the blog and BC message boards, a lot of BC fans dislike you and your national beat colleagues. Either BC doesn't get enough respect, coverage, or gets labeled with the same recycled cliches about the program. In your and other beat guys defense, there is no way you can be an expert on every BCS conference team, especially when you are focused on the top teams. With that in mind, why don't you toss up your hands and say "I don't know that much about this BC team" or "honestly I've watched about 15 minutes of Ole Miss this year" or "I didn't see Coach A's boneheaded call against State U because I was at the Florida-Tennessee game" instead of trying to give analysis that a smart fan of a out of the spotlight team could see right through?

Stewart Mandel: In my experience, there isn't a single team in the country whose message-board/blog fans feel the national media gives them their due. I even get complaints from fans of teams like USC and Florida, who have been pretty much non-stop media darlings the last few years. Someone can always find some evidence they're being "slighted" if they go looking for it. But I truly don't mind such comments, and in fact I completely understand them. This is the only major sport where the media plays an active role in deciding the outcome. Why wouldn't fans be paranoid about getting screwed over?

As for the second part, you have to keep in mind that, with all due respect to BC fans -- or Ole Miss fans, or Tennessee fans or any other school's fans -- at the end of the day, they represent a fraction of my audience. When I write something like the Mailbag, it's imperative that both the questions I choose and the answers I give are of interest to a general, national audience. For instance, I have a question in this week’s mailbag about BC. I wouldn't imagine that anything in my answer will come as "news" to anyone who follows BC closely -- but it might to all the other fans out there. I fully concede that any BC fan who follows the team closely enough to read a BC blog every day probably knows the inner-workings of that team far better than me. However, by maintaining a general knowledge of not just BC but 70 other teams, it allows me to compare BC to those other teams, analyze their general place in the landscape and offer a truly detached, outsider's perspective that's hard to maintain if you're a beat writer or blogger who spends all day, every day primarily following one team.

ATL_eagle: Regular features of yours that always get a lot of play on the BC boards (outside the mailbag) are the picks and bowl predictions. I know it's early but predict the following games (NC State at BC, BC at Notre Dame) and tell us now what (if any bowl) BC plays in?

Stewart Mandel: Yeah, I'm not big on picking specific games more than a week out. I'll just share with you my general prediction for BC's season in general: They're my favorite to win their division (though I fully anticipate another logjam where there's some sort of tie for first and they happen to win the tiebreaker), which would likely mean winning about nine regular season games. As for the bowl, as you well know, they're not exactly a favorite of the upper-tier ACC bowl partners in the South, so if they don't win the title game, they would likely go somewhere like the Music City Bowl (while the Gator snaps up FSU, the Peach Georgia Tech, the Champs Sports Miami, etc.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Orange Bowl memories

Miami is leaving the Orange Bowl. While most of BC's games in the famous stadium were dreadful, we will always have this...

Preseason Blogpoll

Two years ago, Brian asked me to join the inagurual blogpoll. It proved to be an enlightening experience. Prior to the blogpoll, I assumed I could do a better job than most real pollers. However, you soon realize there is no way to get a good feel for all the potential poll teams. On any given weekend I watch parts of six games and still miss more nationally than I see. The inefficiency of polling pushed me from indifferent to a firm playoff proponent.

Even though I don't think polls should decide titles I gladly accepted Brian's invite to participate in the 2007 blogpoll. It is an interesting study and there is plenty of give and take throughout the season.

Below is my preseason ballot. I am high on the SEC and ACC (and BC). Low on the Big East and midmajors.

1 Southern Cal 25
2 LSU 24
3 Oklahoma 23
4 Texas 22
5 Virginia Tech 21
6 South Carolina 20
7 West Virginia 19
8 Michigan 18
9 Florida 17
10 Wisconsin 16
11 Ohio State 15
12 Louisville 14
13 Georgia 13
14 Tennessee 12
15 Penn State 11
16 California 10
17 Georgia Tech 9
18 Boston College 8
19 UCLA 7
20 Texas A&M 6
21 Auburn 5
22 Alabama 4
23 TCU 3
24 Hawaii 2
25 Florida State 1

Dropped Out:

Look what's been added to YouTube

Matty Ice buzz building and other links

Ryan received plenty of good pub recently but no one has gone as far as Terry Bowden did in this column. He calls Ryan a top 10 player and thinks that Matt could go as high as No. 2 in the draft next year. Pretty cool. Unlike many national guys, we know Terry has watched Matt for the past two years (at least against Clemson and FSU).

Here is an article on Akins from the weekend.

BC is recruiting western PA's Quinten Williams.

The Boston Blog liked the Steve Logan piece in the Times. The blog goes on to defend TOB but admits that BC needs more excitement to get noticed in Boston.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jags as OC: Season 2, West Virginia

This loss to West Virginia was the last game Jags coached at BC. After the season he took a job as Green Bay’s Tight Ends coach. TOB hired Dana Bible and embarked on BC’s longest, sustained run in the modern era (the DI split). You’d hope that Jags time as OC would have ended in a crescendo of points and passing. Instead it was our second straight loss and one of many tough games in Morgantown.

Stat Line
First downs 15
Rushed-yards 42-162
Passing yards 105
Sacked-yards lost 4-41
Return yards 37
Passes 9-17-1
Punts 6-39.7
Fumbles-lost 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-60
Time of possession 27:04

What can we learn from this game? Jags could run the ball. I know fans are concerned about this year and can rattle off a variety of reasons why we'll struggle: "players are different," "line scheme is different," and "Jags is not even calling the plays," but I think we will have good rushing production. Just look at this game…Mike Cloud, pretty much our only offensive weapon at the time, was able to run for 179 yards in Morgantown. On a less stellar note, Jags was not a miracle worked with QBs. In 1997 he did some good things with Matt Hasselbeck. However, this game ended Scott Mutryn's mediocre college QB. Jags never made Scott better or undid the damage already inflicted on Mutryn’s college career.

What can we learn from this series? Considering the circumstances, Jags did pretty well in his first go around. At the time, the coordinator spot was a big step up for him. He moved from position coach at a mid-major to OC in a top conference. He left his mentor Steve Logan and working with a new head coach and a team with a lousy defense.

Over the course of two seasons, Jags tried a variety of things and only saw a portion of those ideas work. However, he kept the attack balanced and productive. He used his best players and helped some of the lesser know players blossom. Aside from the W-L record it was a positive output.

Although he missed out on the true turnaround, the timing of Jags' departure served him well for his current role. He has enough familiarity with the school to know what works, yet brings fresh ideas. BC fans dealt with his on the job growing pains 10 years ago and will probably deal with a few head scratchers this time around, but the upside is so promising that I am really looking forward to the Jags era.

A look at Fenway Sports Group

Here is an interesting look at the BC's marketing partner the Fenway Sports Group. I think the best aspect of this relationship from a BC perspective is how seamless it has been. Supposedly the revenue is way up (no official numbers released) yet you never feel like the Red Sox are setting the BC agenda or invading the BC experience with corporate sponsorship.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend roundup

A few notes from the weekend...

Matt Ryan and Steve Logan get the New York Times treatment (thanks to Bob for sending). Really good piece on both. Every time I start to have doubts about the upside of this season, these two get me excited. Infact, if Logan was our new head coach, instead of offensive coordinator, I think BC would be getting more positive preseason press.

Will Blackmon is having a good preseason (thanks to Mike for the link).

As expected those Brighton bloggers are unhappy about the new sound system.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alumni gets louder and other links

The neighbors are going to love this...we're improving the PA system at Alumni. (Thanks to Anthony for the link.)

A great article on new offensive coordinator Steve Logan.

Ian and I will be pounding out ACC preview stuff over at the Fanhouse in the next week or so.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fall fashion

The BC Stadium (fka Whale) Pants arrived. They are glorious. A perfect combination of style, tradition, fanaticism, and comfort. I now have to make a decision: what do I wear with the perfect pants?

I could go with the SuperFan t-shirt but I don't think the yellow works well with the khaki.

There is always the classic BC t-shirt. But I am turning 31 this season and becoming an old fart. I'll probably wear a polo or golf shirt with the new pants.

While my priorities can often be questioned, my family is still No. 1. Want proof? I went ahead and got my wife an outfit that every woman wants -- the BC stadium skirt. Also check out the woman's retro sports fitted t-shirt (another new addition to the BC fashion trend).

2007 Position Previews: Defensive Line

This is the eighth part of my position by position breakdown of the 2007 roster.


The strength of the defense will be the linebackers. But there is plenty of upside on the defensive line. BC has good depth and a few playmakers who could be All Conference.

BC is in the unique position of sending out a deep, young yet experienced line. Larkin and Raji are Seniors and Brace and Willette are Juniors but everyone else on the two deep is an underclassman and the sophmores all have significant playing time under their belts. Take a look.

Austin Giles – played in all 13 games
Nick Rossi – played in 2 games
Jim Ramella – played in 12 games in 2005. Medical Redshirt in 2006
Allan Smith – played in all 13 games
Brendan Deska – played in 9 games
Alex Albright – played in all 13 games
Brady Smith – played in 12 games

With Spaz coming back, I think you’ll see a continuous rotation on the defensive line. Last year all of the above guys saw the field. This helps keep guys fresh and allows BC to put pressure on the opposing QB with less blitzing.

The Players
DT – BJ Raji, SR, 6’1, 325lbs
DT – Ron Brace, JR, 6’3, 325lbs
DE – Nick Larkin, SR, 6’4, 241
DE – strong>Allan Smith, SO, 6’2, 237lbs
DE – Jim Ramella, SO, 6’4, 247lbs
DE – Austin Giles, SO, 6’3, 291lbs
DE – Alex Albright, SO, 6’5, 235lbs
DT – Jerry Willette, JR, 6’5, 282lbs
DT – Nick Rossi, SO, 6’6, 294lbs
DT – Brendan Deska, SO, 6’5, 250lbs
DT – Thomas Claiborne, FR, 6’3, 330lbs
DE – Corey Eason, FR, 6’5, 247lbs
DT - Damik Scafe, FR, 6’3, 305lbs

Raji is the most significant player of the front line. He is very agile and quick for his size. He was guilty for taking a play or two off last year. Hopefully his slimmed down frame will give him the needed endurance. His partner at DT is Ron Brace. Another heavyweight who has slimmed down, Brace should be productive this year. Larkin is a steady performer but has never really had a breakout game or season. He’s dependable and will hopefully improve his pass rushing this year. Ramella is back after a long recovery from shoulder problems. He showed good football IQ as a true freshman in 2005. If he can regain his form he should be a very good player this year. Alex Albright was one of the surprises last year. I expect continued improvement from him. Allan Smith had a good offseason and has put on a little more weight this year. Brady Smith started at times last year but also had the occasional detour into the coaching doghouse. He'll be one of the player who benefits from a new position coach. Willette is serviceable and improved as the season progressed last year. Rossi and Deska will probably see more sideline than field this year. Claiborne seemed very heavy last year. Hopefully he has some mobility. Scafe is another guy who may or may not play. Eason was a highly sought after recruit. I don’t know if he will redshirt.

If even half the super sophomores get better this unit will kick ass this year. Raji seems motivated to prove he is an NFL tackle. Brace and Larkin are steady performers. I think this might be our best defensive line since 2004.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More practice pics

A few more pics from the scrimmage. Here is BC's official press release.

Have you heard the one...?

A few weeks ago some posters on Eagle Insider started predicting what anecdotes the TV broadcasters would trot out for the upcoming season. You’ll remember such past classics like: “Kiwi’s grandfather was Prime Minister…” “O’Brien overcoming the gambling scandal…” “Aponavicius was a SuperFan…”

By halftime of the second game you’re already tired of hearing them, but the TV folks keep trotting them out there. It is so silly. The broadcast team should assume that the majority of the people watching BC have been watching BC play all season. And to those folks just tuning in? I am sorry but I think they can still enjoy the game without hearing that “BC has the longest bowl winning streak in the nation…”

Here are my early guesses on things we’ll hear over and over again. (Credit goes to the Eagle Insider posters for putting the spark in my mind for a few of these.)

1. “Flutie is the nephew of BC legend…” We got a taste of this last year, but Billy was redshirting and never saw the field. Now that he’ll be catching balls, it will be endless. I think all BC fans will get a kick out of it…the first 100 or so times.

2. “Ayers in on the BC baseball team too…” This has been mentioned in the past, but his at bat against Dice-K in Spring Training could pump up the interest.

3. “That play looked a lot like one Brett Favre use to make for Jags…” The media obsession with Favre is well known. What has surprised me is how often Jags and Matt Ryan are getting asked about the Green Bay QB. Jags has done a great job of deflecting the comparison and saying that Ryan is more like Matt Hasselbeck. Yet for some reason I don’t think that will be the end of it.

4. “BC is still trying to fill the void left by Brian Toal…” Toal is a good player and will be missed, but not to the extent that the whole world is predicting. I expect at least one sideline shot of Brian in street clothes and mention per game, especially around the goal line.

5. “BC is installing the new zone blocking…” This is inevitable. If the line plays well it will be because of the zone blocking. If the line plays poorly it will be because of the zone blocking. Whatever happens expect a lot of talk about the five guys upfront.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Practice pics

Here are some pics from practice. Mostly second team offense versus the scout defense. As you can see they are using a variety of guys along the line.