Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Looking back at Spaz Part 2

Spaz is a first-time head coach, but he is a very familiar name to BC fans. Having called the defenses for 10 years, I thought the offseason would be a good time to look back at some of his best and worst moments. Hopefully he’s learned from these events and will use that knowledge this season now that he is in charge of both sides of the ball.

Syracuse 43--BC 17
November 27, 2004

What happened?
BC entered its final home game of the season and final home game as a member of the Big East with its destiny in its own hand. Beat a floundering Syracuse team and it was on to the Fiesta Bowl. Playing without their starting QB, the Eagles needed a strong effort from their defense. Instead they got run over. Calling the performance flat would be generous. Five years later it is still hard to understand how such a talented defensive unit had so many problems against a undermatched opponent.

Head scratching defensive lowlights from that game included:
-- Allowing the first play of the game to go for a 69 yard TD
-- Allowing Syracuse's third string RB -- who also played on defense that day -- to run for 141 yards
-- Allowing two 'Cuse running backs to gain more than 100 yards
-- Allowing 43 points when the opponent's QB only completed 9 of 16 for 88 yards and had two INTs.
-- Allowed Syracuse to score more than they did against Buffalo, Temple, and Rutgers (when Rutgers was still bad).

TOB gets much of the blame for the emotionless effort on that day. Everything was in their hands and they blew it. But I've always felt Spaziani deserved some blame too. His guys were the ones missing tackles all day. He didn't get them fired up. He also failed to adjust as Syracuse ran up and down on BC all day. I think this game remains the most disappointing loss for BC fans of my era.

What I hope he’s learned?

For all the rah rah gimmicky stuff that gets dismissed by tacticians, I hope that Spaz remembers that these are still kids. Gimmicks and emotion have their place. As Head Coach he now stands as the leader of both sides of the ball. He needs to set the tone in preparedness, focus, and emotion. We can never take another win for granted, especially when the stakes are so high.


Sr.Atlanta said...

Did you have to remind me of this game!?

It was the most disappointing loss since I've been a BC fan (1985)

And yes, I did have hotel reservations in Tempe looking forward to the Fiesta Bowl!

Bird said...

I remember that Syracuse team 'cause we kicked the shiot out of them in the Citrus Bowl that year. The first play on offense for them Chris Reis picked off Perry Patterson's pass and took it back to the house.

Reggie Ball went from possibly being supplanted the next year to bowl game MVP.

GordonsLeftFoot said...

I've heard rumors that every other coach in the Big East spoke with Pasqualani the week prior to tell him how to beat BC. And wasn't that the final year the school got to keep the bulk of the BCS money? If so, BC lost $10+ million that Saturday. Ugh. No mas.

CT said...

We made that Syracuse team look like Colorado from the early '90's.

I'd say the David Green Fumble game was more disappointing to me, though.

morrina said...

The Syracuse game was the most disappointing, because we were expected to win easily. But, I would call the loss to WVU (Green fumble) "more painful". Coming off the huge upset of ND....and we had the game won -- gutwrenching. Second most painful was the loss to #1 Miami on that freak ricochet interception at the goal line.

Big Jack Krack said...

Syracuse lost to TEMPLE 34 to 24 on November 13th that year. They then had two weeks to prepare for BC - big deal. They also got stomped by Purdue, Virginia and West Virginia that year, and lost to Florida State as well.

The Syracuse football team then lost, 51-14, to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, December 21, in the Champs Sports Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Syracuse has fallen on very bad times ever since!

Georgia Tech fans can blame Syracuse for elevating Reggie Ball, who engineered more significant losses than he did wins.

Even if every other coach in the Big East spoke with Pasqualani the week prior to tell him how to beat BC as GLF notes, I could see us at worst losing maybe 20 to 17 or 24 to 17 - or 10 to 3 for crying out loud. Every BC fan expected a solid win that day, even with Peterson out and young Matt Ryan into the fire. Our fate was clearly in our hands. The defense was a no-show; deer in the headlights - seemed unreal at the time.

I was at the David Green fumble game, even though I was living in the Washington, DC area at the time. The amazing thing is, we still could have buckled down and won the game with solid defense. WVU had to move maybe 70 yards in a couple of minutes to win. We were ahead 14 to 10, and lost 17 to 14 - ouch! Can't tell you how much grief I took from Notre Dame fans after that loss - or how much grief I felt period. These two losses weren't as bad as the infamous 55 - 12 loss to Holy Cross in 1942 (which saved a lot of BC lives because they cancelled the victory party at the Cocoanut Grove as a result)when undefeated BC was on the way to the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

Here's an article for you younger fans - I grew up hearing these stories often.


blockparty said...

thanks BKJ, i love the history lessons. keep 'em coming.

CT said...

Reggie Ball can thank Chan Gailey for his career.

"The" fumble from Green...Thanksgiving weekend, the week after ND that changed their program henceforth...slotted for the Sugar Bowl, I believe. WVU was undefeated that year, no? They got stomped by UF in New Orleans, too.

Yeah, the defense gave up a 65 yard drive and I still can see the TD pass in the right corner of the end zone that sent me screaming outside. We were up 14-3 with about 11 mins remaining, to make matters worse.

I went to the Carquest Bowl that year in a 3/4 empty Joe Robbie Stadium as we beat an overmatched UVA team. I sat there thinking, "just one play away."

The Syracuse game left me more dumbfounded, to be sure, but the WVU game felt different. More crushing, I guess, b/c of the way we lost by giving up 2 TDs late. Syracuse...we were never in it.

Big Jack Krack said...

CT - I'm off point a little bit, but I never could figure Chan Gailey. I was calling for his ouster for several years before it happened and have no stake in the matter really - except of course my wife and her son are GT people through and through.

Ball was the QB for 4 straight losses to Georgia, 3 of which were particularly painful for GT fans. Can't blame him for the loss his Freshman year in 2003.

Both Gailey and Ball lost track of the downs on a late drive in 2004, allowing Georgia to hold on for a 19-13 win in Athens - Ball threw the 4th down away by heaving the ball INTO THE GRANDSTANDS - one of the more dumbfounding plays I have ever seen;

Ball threw an interception at the goal line with just over a minute remaining in 2005's 14-7 loss to the Bulldogs. Finally, in a 15 to 12 loss in 2006, Ball had a miserable game, completing just 6-of-22 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions. GT could have arguably won all three of those with a smart quarterback.

Anyway - enough about them - but it shows we're not the only team with painful losses.

Here's one for all of us - in 2004 how did the Yellow Jackets fall To North Carolina, 34-13 and stomp Syracuse 51 to 14, when we beat UNC 37 to 24, after getting croaked by Syracuse in our most important game in a over a decade? If it was a basketball game, there would have been an investigation for point shaving :-) Oh boy, where did that come from?

eagleboston said...

This game did not have a lot on the line but I remember a brutal contest against Miami. I was at the game at Alumni and the game went into overtime. If I remember correctly, O'Brien did not really understand overtime strategy and he went for 2 instead of kicking an extra point to tie and put the game into a second OT. I was frustrated by the loss as Miami had quite a streak going against us.

Other brutal games: West Virginia beating BC in the early 90's. Notre Dame absolutely obliterating us the year before the Touchdown Jesus kick. Losing to Northwestern on an onside kick just before they became a winning program. The Syracuse game. ACC Championship game in Ryan's senior year. North Carolina about 3 years ago. The Hail Flutie from a redshirt freshman at NC State.

On the other side of the coin, we have had more than our share of great late-game victories. Suffice it to say that we have crushed more hearts than had our hearts broken.

Big Jack Krack said...

Good points EagleBoston.

The Miami game in question was TOB's first year - 1997. Miami 45 - BC 44. We still can't beat Butch Davis.

In 2004 we did end up 9 and 3; arguably, we could have been undefeated going into the last (home) game against Syracuse. We had close losses to Wake Forest and Pittsburgh that could have gone our way.

LBs – among others

Ricky Brown – Oakland Raiders
Ray Henderson
Jolonn Dunbar – New Orleans Saints
Tyrone Pruitt
Freshman Brian Toal (he might make it yet)

Defensive Line included

Mathias Kiwanuka – New York Giants
Tim Bulman – Houston Texans
Al Washington (top-notch college player)
Phil Mettling

Secondary might have been young, but talented.

How DID we get spanked so badly? Atl brought the subject up :-)

I'm going to bed - just doodling from my hotel room - sorry to be rambling on and on.

matthew2 said...

On a BBall note.... if Wake beats Clemson on Sunday and we win the next 2, we get a bye in the first round.

CT said...

BJK--I don't think you were the only one confused by the goings-on at GT during Gailey's tenure. I figure Ball (from my hometown, Stn. Mtn., no less) had pictures of Gailey at a karaoke bar or something--you know, showing some personality--for him to stick with it for four frustrating years. Especially with Calvin Johnson out there having to continually adjust to poorly thrown balls. Techsters can only imagine what a good QB could've done with CJ.

The '92 game against ND was disappointing, but, again, we were never in that one. Lost 51-7, I think. We were 7-0 at the time, too, thinking we were announcing our re-arrival on the big stage. And then Holtz fake punted late in the game when ND was winning huge. See? Karma struck just one short year later. Ha.

I was quite proud of the guys in the '01 Miami game--the Ed Reed INT as time expired. Miami had virtually a pro franchise disguised as a college team that year.

Nothing will top the '93 ND game.

Well, maybe something will. Just not yet.

We all eagerly await the Spaz experiment. Let's hope he coaches better than he recruits.

Big game tonight!

eaglefbfan said...

I will always blame that Syracuse game on TOB. Great coach Monday-Friday. Horrible coach on Saturday. I jumped off the couch that fateful December night in 2006 when the ESPN ticker told me he had left for NC State.