Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why Spaz's recruiting doesn't matter anymore

After BC picked up another below the radar recruit, Spaz's most vocal critics were out again disparaging his recruiting class. I don't trust the recruiting rankings, but it does concern me that our commitments aren't drawing more interest from BCS teams. There is a similar concern on the Penn State front. There's plenty of speculation, but BC is not a factor among the rumored PSU transfers. But really none of it matters. Spaz is going to wrap up most of the recruiting this summer and then focus on the games come fall. While not inspiring, the plan is practical. There are two outcomes:

1. Spaz has a losing season and gets fired. If this happens, our 2013 recruiting class will be a hodgepodge of current commits, a transfer or two and whatever our new coach can uncover. For a new guy Spaz's lower profile recruits might be an advantage. If they aren't valued, they are less likely to be poached by other programs. A new Head Coach can then exert a little effort in getting the Spaz commits to stay committed and spend more time on filling out the class.

2. Spaz has a winning season and keeps his job. In this scenario Spaz stays off the hot seat and has to finish filling out the 2013 recruiting class. With a little more job security he can use his last few scholarships on bigger names. He may even luck into a decent prospect who suddenly becomes available due to another school's coaching change (like he did with Rutgers last year). In this case Spaz doesn't waste time recruiting during the season and then picks up some low-hanging fruit.

Spaz is never going to recruit an elite class. There are many contributing factors as to why, but mostly it is because Spaz is not a salesmen. And we shouldn't care. He's not going to change. It is just a matter of who will finish out this class four months from now.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Chase Rettig

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part due to the key players overachieving.

Junior Quarterback, Chase Rettig

What he's been: We all hoped Rettig would be a phenom. That he would some how save the Spaz era from its offensive funk and lead BC to unexpected glory. Instead, he's been mediocre. He completed just over half of his passes last year and never put together back-to-back great games nor enough sustained drives. Apologists for Rettig like me blame the system, the talent around him and of course the way his Spaz has screwed up the offense. But even the biggest Rettig cheerleaders have to admit he's yet to have a memorable BC moment or done anything to get on an NFL radar.

What he needs to be: Someone who can put the team on his back. I know the offensive line has been terrible, leaving Chase running for his life. I know plenty of passes have been dropped and no one is making big plays. But a truly great QB would show more by now. He's started 21 games. He's finally is a simplified offense that will get the ball out of his hands. If Chase does have an accurate arm, if he is as cerebral as people say, if he can get off throws in a collapsing pocket, now is his chance to show it.

Why I like his chances to shine: I don't know if Doug Martin is going to be a miracle worker, but QB's can make huge leaps with a new offense. Just look at Dominique Davis. He went to East Carolina and became one of the most accurate passers in the country.

Last year I thought Rettig would be great. I thought his toughness and preparation would overcome the offensive limitations. Here I am a year late thinking the same thing. But the difference is Doug Martin. We finally have an experienced OC running a current, simple offense. Rettig will be asked to make quick decisions and get the ball out fast. I think he can do it. I also think that throwing 400+ passes will give him a rhythm and a confidence that he's never had at BC.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rich Thompson will cover BC football this Fall for the Herald

There is some news on the BC media front. The Herald assigned Rich Thompson to the BC beat for this Fall's football season. Rich has covered BC on occasion over the years, but mostly on the basketball side. Thompson is a welcome addition, as the Herald's focus has been spotty since Steve Conroy started splitting his time on hockey. Hopefully a new voice on the BC scene will also spark Blauds to improve his work.

For many years, BC fans' main source of news was Mike (Vega at the Globe) and Mike (Shalin at the Herald). We complained about their identical features and soft touch on the BC coaches. Little did we know how good things were. Since Vega's move in 2007, we've been left with a beat writer who seems to loathe his job and also makes excuses for our Head Coach. Blauds also rarely writes or tweets during the college offseason. That sort of editorial decision may have been fine 20 years ago, but now college sports is a year round news cycle. When you look at all the work produced by college beat writers around the country, it makes the Boston media look lazy or oblivious.

Thompson also plans to tweet regularly once the season starts. I hope he makes the most of this opportunity. It is a shame to see the beat neglected like it is across town.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Revisiting a Boston (BC) Olympics using London as an example

During the 2010 Winter Olympics I tossed around the idea of Boston hosting a summer or winter games. My point then remains that the same: Boston is ideal because the local universities could already supply many of the venues. The big obstacle would always be the main stadium for Track & Field and the opening and closing ceremonies. Nearly every city that hosts is left with a White Elephant that costs hundreds of millions of dollars. But London may provide a solution. They built their Olympic Stadium as a temporary venue. It looked great on TV, holds enough for the games and can be shrunk as soon as it all wraps up. Londoners haven't decided what they will do with the space. There are a few different bidders looking to take over the remains of the stadium. Boston would probably have similar suitors depending on the location. I would guess that UMasss Boston would want a small stadium or maybe the Revolution would want to convert it to a soccer only facility. The possibilities are endless.

I would still love to see Boston host the games and wish our partner Fenway Sports Group would get behind it. I am practical too. This wouldn't just be a vanity project for BC. It would be a backdoor way to get the IOC to fix the air conditioning in Conte!

Friday, July 27, 2012

New soccer Eagles and other links

BCeagles.com released the bios of the six new freshmen and two transfers for the men's soccer team. Four of the newbies hail from New York.

It feels like every ACC team returns a starting QB. While the depth gives the conference advantages that other conferences don't have, I think some of the talent is overrated. In fact, I can't believe that Rettig is considered the 10th best. I would rank him 5th and think he could be even better by the end of the year.

Despite shoulder surgery, Alex Albright is healthy heading into his second NFL season. He's also ready to move to inside linebacker.

In case you missed it, BC will play Baylor in the Charleston Classic this Fall. That gives all the Boston media, the college basketball writers and the BC bloggers a chance to rehash the Donahue-Heslip situation again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can BC sell a faceless program?

As the team prepared for the poster photo shoot, I started to think about some of the current challenges BC faces marketing the program. Who will be the focus of the poster? Can a casual BC fan name our best players? With the team coming off its worst season in over a decade, it would be nice to have a focal point. A person who fans could rally around. With Kuechly gone, BC doesn't have that player or coach.

Spaz is not a compelling public speaker. BC uses coordinators in their Youtube videos. No BC player made the ACC's preseason all conference team. They have two likeable but rather unknown Seniors on the cover of the media guide.

Perception matters in college football. Obviously tickets sales are part of that, but lacking a star player hurts when TV networks are selecting our games. Even if some of our players have breakout years, they will have a hard time winning national awards.

BC created some new and unique ticket packages to help attendance for the less attractive games. If we are play well, TV networks might pay attention during the last month of the season. But if the team struggles, it will be hard to sell anything. You can't force players to be great or be dynamic personalities. Even if players aren't well known, I am consistently proud of how they handle themselves. But BC can ask its coach to sell the program. Spaz doesn't and won't. But I hope that when we hire a new coach that sales and marketing aspect are not ignored. Coaching is primary, but representing BC should always be a factor. 

Phil Steele talks ACC and other links

Here is Phil Steele previewing the Big East and the ACC.

Former Eagle Tim Bulman signed with New England.His teammate Ricky Brown is hanging on too and is now with the Ravens.

Did anyone else hear this comment from Spaz?
"We've tied Chase's hands behind his back his first two years. He's at the point now where he's ready to cross the line."
I know this sort of thing is off the cuff, but why is he saying that he's held a QB back? Am I the only one who gets frustrated by this stuff?

VCU hired BC grad Ed McLaughlin as their new AD. If and when Gene retires McLaughlin will be one of top targets to replace him.

This is from earlier in the week, but I am glad Kimble is confident. I think he could have a big season.

Emmett Cleary provides some insights into how the offense will change.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Viva Espana: what you need to know about the basketball team's trip to Spain

NCAA rules allow a basketball team to take an overseas summer tour once every four years. These trips are a huge advantage as they allow the team to play together and at a high level during a dead period. In addition to improving skills, the trips also bond teams together and help the coaches experiment with different rotations and lineups. In the past BC has traveled to France, Switzerland and Australia. In a little less than a month, BC will take its first trip to Spain. This is our first tour under Donahue and a critical chance for this team to get better. Below are some of the facts, figures, schedules and nuggets about the trip.

  • All players can and will attend, including new freshmen Joe Rahon, Olivier Hanlan and incoming Senior Andrew Van Nest. Transfer Alex Dragicevich cannot go. 
  • Aside from the players, the rest of the travel party includes the coaching staff, a trainer, a sports information director, and two managers. 
  • Some of the schedule is still being finalized, but here are BC's current plans for games:
    • August 27 Madrid - Game 1  
    • August 29 Valencia – Game 2 (ACB Team - Valencia Basket) 
    • August 31 Barcelona - Game 3 (ACB Team - Penya or Manresa)
    • September 1 Barcelona - Game 4 (LEB Team)
  • The team leaves Boston on August 25. In each city they will practice and see some of the local sights. They also have community service time scheduled. The team returns on September 3. Classes begin back in Boston the next day.
  • The games will be played with international rules, courts and FIBA balls.
  • BC doesn't know if the referees will speak any English (but they're hoping).
For any Eagle fans in Spain, try to catch a game or two. It should be fun. For those of us stateside, there are presently no official broadcasts but I imagine an internet feed will pop up for some of the action.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Dominic Appiah

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part due to the key players overachieving. 

 Sophomore Defensive Tackle, Dominic Appiah

What he's been: Appiah surprised many last year. Playing for the first time after redshirting his freshman year, Appiah ended up starting most of the games. He made his presence known quickly with the ability to get an inside push and make plays in the backfield. Appiah was new to the inside but he showed natural ability and moved very well considering he played nearly 30 pounds lighter in high school.

What he needs to be: We need Appiah to be like B.J. Raji or Ron Brace. We don't have as many difference makers in other areas of the defense. If Appiah and Ramsey partner to become a dominant force -- like Brace and Raji -- it will create all sorts of opportunities for the rest of the defense. If the two of them can control the line of scrimmage we can become one of the elite DLines in the ACC.

Why I like his chances to shine: It feels like I am head of the Appiah fan club. Spaz doesn't even have him at the top of the preseason depth chart. Of all the guys I have profiled, he would probably be viewed as the least likely to make an impact. He's still young. He's still learning the position and he's still getting used to moving with his added bulk. But I saw enough moments that I believe Appiah can be a great DT. He has the push, the leverage and surprising speed for big guy. Other teams had trouble handling him last year. If Appiah remains focused and works hard, he is going to dominate every interior lineman in the conference. And if Ramsey and Appiah both play well, BC will be a bowl team again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

ACC Media roundup and other links

The ACC Media voted BC 5th overall in the Atlantic Division. That's not particularly surprising since the majority of the reporters are from Carolina and still view us as a secondary program. Although I teased him on twitter, even Meter avoided his usual "BC: 1st" vote.

The recurring question for Spaz was regarding Kuechly. He handles it well and points to Ramsey as the type of player who can fill the void. Not too many asked Spaz about the "Hot Seat." (I didn't embed that video due to the auto play issues.)

It will be interesting to see if BC benefits from the looming exodus at Penn State. We are positioned well since we have scholarship space and recruited many of their kids. But I wonder if Spaz will have any hesitation in taking advantage of his alma mater.

Virginia Athlete Atem Ntantang committed to BC.

 The ACC Digital Network is running a countdown of great moments. Of course they included BC comeback against Virginia Tech. It doesn't have Chris Fowler yelling "Lane Stadium goes silent" but it does have Meter losing it.

BC is one of the schools to leverage the transfer up phenomenon in college football.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

ACC Kickoff, Day 1 -- UPDATE

UPDATE: I took down the video since it was auto playing for people. You can listen to Ramsey and Cleary here.

I hoped that Spaz would address the Penn State situation. Knowing that those types of questions were coming, the ACC coaches released a joint statement on Penn State and Paterno. Someone should still ask Spaz on Monday since he does know Sandusky and played under Paterno.

This is a shot of Kaleb Ramsey talking to the media. And here is all the players together. Cleary also fielded questions, including those about biology and chemistry.

I expect more on Monday when Spaz talks. I also think all the newspaper guys (including Blauds) will write up their interviews from Sunday into Monday posts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The field is finished

Reader Doug took these pictures yesterday. I think the field and wall look great. The next step will be hearing how the players like the look and feel. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Questions I want asked at the ACC Media Days

The ACC convenes this weekend in Greensboro for the annual ACC Media Days. I am not going. But I do have questions I would ask. 

Questions for Frank Spaziani

-- Is he aware of the "hot seat" talk? Does he feel the pressure. How does he get the team and staff to focus? Is it impacting recruiting?

-- What are his expectations for the season? Does he see the team competing for a division title? 

-- What attracted him to Doug Martin's offense? What are his expectations for the offense? Does he think the increased tempo will impact the defensive side of the ball? 

-- What will Bollman's role be as "running game coordinator"? Is Bollman using different techniques and or approaches to the offensive line play?

-- What traits was he looking for as he hired new coaches to replace the departed? 

-- As a Penn State alum and former player, what are his thoughts on the Freeh report? Are the former players talking among themselves about what they can do to help rebuild the Penn State football reputation? What does he want done with the Paterno statue?

Emmett Cleary

-- When did the staff approach him about moving to the left side? How is he preparing for the new position? 

--Who is leading the OL drills in the offseason? 

-- How are things different with a new position coach? What will fans see?

-- What aspects of his game is he focusing on this year?

-- How is Chase Rettig adjusting to the new offense? 

-- Which offensive player will surprise BC fans this year? Who is going to make a big leap?

-- What are his expectations for the season? How important is it to the Seniors to get back to a winning record and a bowl game?

Kaleb Ramsey

-- How is his health? 

-- What was it like to sit out a season?

-- Earlier in his career there was speculation that he might transfer from BC. How does it feel to be a 5th year senior at BC now?

-- Last year BC played more three man fronts than ever before. Will we see more of that this year?

--  Does the talk of an NFL career add any extra motivation?

We know Blauds and HD will be in Greensboro. Hopefully they or others will slip in one or two of these questions. I don't expect anything particularly revealing, but I would like to hear Spaz talk about the pressure of the season. 

Willis commits, decommits and then commits, and other links

It was a strange night if you follow BC recruiting on Twitter. First Rivals reported Georgia running back Myles Willis' commitment. Then Willis himself took to twitter to say that he didn't commit. Later in the night he clarified that he did commit. Regardless, it seems like it is over and he seems like a good pickup. He plays for local Atlanta power Marist. I will try to check out one of his games this fall.

One of the great under-appreciated aspects of BC sports is "For Boston." However, the bloggers at Atlantic Coast Convos have great taste as they listed our fight song as the best in the ACC. (Am I the only one singing "For Boston" to himself right now?)

BCeagles.com put out another player Q&A, this time with basketball transfer Alex Dragicevich. Dennis Clifford is one of the players who has made an early impression on Alex.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wey Q&A and other links

BCeagles.com posted a Q & A with Patrick Wey. He talks about his summer training and trying to win another National Championship.

BC basketball fans will enjoy this pic of the early '90s stars.

Although she still has two more years of High School volleyball player Brittany Pavich committed to BC.

From earlier in the week, here is an article on new commitment Matt Milano.

Baseball player John Nicklas is ready to make an impact.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Ian White

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part due to the key players overachieving.

Junior Center, Ian White

What he's been: The redshirt JR has played a lot and almost all of it at guard. What's been frustrating is that White would be very, very good in some games and then off in others. Because he is playing primarily inside, the issues usually involve getting overpowered by bigger DTs. Like most of the olinemen the past few years, White's flashed moments of greatness but lacked consistency.

What he needs to be: In my opinion the offensive line play really started falling apart after Matt Tennant left. I think Centers are underappreciated...at times even by their own coaches. It seems like the Spaz/Devine MO was to put the best five on the field regardless of positional fit and not to worry about rejiggering the lineup. The way the staff yo-yo'd Mark Spinney and others at Center the past two years hurt our consistency. And it impacts the QB position too. White's new to the role, so this could lead to more chaos. I hope not. We need him to be good from Day 1. He needs to set the tone for the OL and communicate with Rettig. Other players are important, but White -- or whoever starts at Center -- will be the keystone to the offense.

Why I like his chances to shine: Like Cleary, I think White is one of those guys who would have thrived under old BC regimes. He's been smart and tough from the minute he was eligible to play. He might not be as powerful as needed, but now as a redshirt JR, he should be fully matured. Plus playing Center doesn't require as much power and is more reliant on smarts and quickness.

I don't know if White will be our starting Center for Miami or even later into the season. Under Devine positions and the depth chart were constantly being tweaked. I pray things are different with Bollman. Let White learned to be a Center. He has a chance to be a great one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How I talk myself into thinking we are going to be good...

You can see it on the BC message boards. You can see it on twitter and on the blogs. Optimism is rising. People are looking forward to the BC Football season. On Eagle Outsider they sarcastically call this "10-2 season." It is that time of year when every aspect of the team and season still has hope and promise. Despite my best judgement and spending half of my posts speculating on Spaz's future, I am falling into this same trap. The closer we get to kickoff and the more I read, the more I think BC might surprise people this year. I am not ready to post my predictions for the season, but here are a few reasons why I do think this team should be bowl bound.

The Schedule
It looks tougher on paper than it really is. Our toughest opponents come to us. We play three of our first four at home. Playing FSU and Georgia Tech on back-to-back weeks is a bit rough, but playing Georgia Tech any time forces a team to regroup. If you have to play a gimmick offense, you might as well do it after facing a top 10 team. Maybe it will serve as a rally point after playing the 'Noles.

Underrated talent
Look at that depth chart again. It is not an all star lineup, but I think our front seven will be better than last year. I love some of the young DBs (Keyes, Asprilla) and think with a healthy Noel and improved ALJ, we can be solid defensively. I still think Chase Rettig can be great. I have real hope for Doug Martin and think our WR and TE talent is good enough. The biggest question is the offensive line. But as someone who has preached for a OL coaching change, I keep telling myself that Bollman will make a difference.

Emotion and Pride
Football is an emotional game and emotional sport. Point fingers at whomever you like, but BC had awful team and coaching chemistry last season. When I see Al Washington posting on Facebook about his excitement, when I hear about the 5th year Seniors wanting to end their careers on a high note, when I look at the new field, I think that positive energy and emotion will carry us to an extra win or two.

As long as these two (see pic below) stay out of the way and Spaz coaches to win, I think this might be a fun season. Is anyone else talking themselves into a big year?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Jim Noel

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part due to the key players overachieving.

Senior Safety, Jim Noel

What he's been: A contributor since day one, Noel has grown from back up to fill in starter, to a full time starter over three years. While primarily a safety, BC has also used him at corner. He missed a good portion of 2011, leaving our already depleted secondary without an impact player. Noel has never been a big hitter or ballhawk, but he's been good in coverage and done what's been asked.

What he needs to be: Noel needs to take over. Our defense is at its best when we have safeties with great anticipation. If you design your defense to exploit QB mistakes, you need a smart and athletic Safety to be in the right place at the right time. One of the reasons we struggled ending drives last year and giving up big plays to teams like Central Florida was because our safeties just couldn't make plays. Noel was doing his best filling in at Corner, while Syvlia, Hughes and Rositano kept getting burned. Hopefully Noel can focus on one area this year, stay healthy and have a big season.

Why I like his chances to shine: Look back on the interceptions Noel has made. They are often really great athletic plays. Few are gimmes that just landed in his hand. If he can be that great for 12 games and get even a little help from his other safeties, he will have a big year.

Last season BC only had 13 interceptions. It was our lowest output since the TOB years. If Noel can help end a few drives with big takeaways, BC could be a strong defensive team again.

Precamp Depth Chart and other links

BC updated the depth chart in time for preseason camps to begin. This should be viewed as temporary and not who will start Labor Day weekend. There will be injuries and position switches that will alter things a bit. Hopefully no one is kicked off the team between now and the start of the season.

Florida DB Matt Milano committed to BC over the weekend. Milano also had offers from Arizona and Air Force.

Andy Katz listed BC among the possible destinations for BU transfer Jake O'Brien. Rumor is Providence is his most likely destination. I hope he gives BC a long look. He'd be another no risk big man for Donahue and give us some nice depth.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coaches to Watch this fall Part 4: Current Offensive Coordinators

Since everyone has Spaz on the Hotseat List, now is as good a time as any to look at future BC head coaching candidates. Unlike our past profile series, the timing and style on these posts will be a little different. Instead of being weeks or days away from a potential change, we have the benefit of a whole season to evaluate these guys. Some stocks will rise, while others will fall and it will make our usual scoreboard watching that much more interesting.

The natural inclination would be for BC to replace Spaz with an offensive guy. Unfortunately there is not a great pool of candidates among current college offensive coordinators. There are plenty of good coordinators, but I don't know how many are ready to be head coaches or coach at a place like BC. These are some of the more prominent names. After the 2012 season, we'll have a better idea of if they are ready to take on an FBS head coaching job.

Chad Morris
Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Chad Morris was coaching high school football three years ago. His meteoric rise to Clemson's playcaller is another example of how much college football has changed. Gus Malzahn and guys like Chip Kelly and Art Briles before him shot from relative obscurity to changing college football within a few season. Pedigree and climbing the ladders doesn't mean as much anymore. All that matters is how you score and Morris showed that he could give new life to Clemson's attack. Like the others mentioned Morris emphasized tempo and a no huddle. His track record is impressive, as is his reputation for teaching and implementing this offense.  
What to Watch for in 2012: Can Clemson keep it up? The ACC now has a chance to adjust to his scheme. It will also be interested to know what Morris wants to do. All these guys want to be head coaches, but is he willing to roll the dice on a job like BC? Would he even fit in? BC's very different from coaching high school in west Texas. 

Matt Canada
Offensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
The Badgers have been a good proving ground for coordinators. I like the fit for BC since Wisconsin tends to develop and recruit like we do. They also have run "pro style" offenses with an emphasis on OL and the running attacks. Canada will be new there this fall, but he's got BCS experience and led explosive offenses in the MAC too. If Canada became a candidate for BC, I would have hesitation about his time at Indiana. They threw it a ton while he was calling plays but didn't win much.
What to Watch in 2012: Will Canada keep throwing it at the more conservative Wisconsin? If Wisconsin keeps up their recent success will he emerge as a candidate elsewhere?

Bill Lazor
Offensive Coordinator, Virginia
Lazor's been a good coordinator at Virginia. He's not changing the game but they've been better than they were before he got there and they've been consistent. Lazor's ACC experience -- especially at a school like UVA -- translates well to BC (as it did for TOB years ago). He can also sell his NFL ties to recruits. He played at Cornell and is from Scranton, so geography and academics wouldn't be an issue. 
What to Watch for in 2012: How will UVA handle their pending QB controversy. Will they also move up within the ACC or stay middle of the pack offensively?

Doug Nussmeier 
Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
Nussmeier moves from Washington to being the playcaller at the Defending National Champions. He's got a good profile for a rising coach in that he played professionally, coached in college, the NFL and Canada, and is now at an elite program. He runs a pro-style west coast offense, so the transition to BC would be relatively easy. Nussmeier lacks any obvious ties to BC or the northeast.
What to Watch in 2012: How will Nussmeier adjust to the pressure cooker of Saban and Alabama? Saban's offensives have been bland but effective. I expect more of the same this year. It doesn't make for compelling football but working for Saban can be good training for future head coaches. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

ICYMI: Links from the past week

Phil Steele thinks we will score more points this season

Kevin Pierre-Louis was named to the Nagurski watch list.

Pennsylvania Tight End strongly considered BC but verballed to UConn instead. BC's interest seemed to fade as other Tight Ends/Defensive Ends committed.

Temple closed on Jersey prospect Jarred Alwan. That's a big coup considering how hard BC went after him.

Former Eagle Steve Hailey now coaches on the Boston AAU circuit. Maybe that will help us with local talent.

BC still has interest in Ohio RB Keith Watkins.

Friday, July 13, 2012

No King at BC may be a good thing

Nearly everything that needs to be said about Penn State and Joe Paterno has been said. But one point that Bruce Feldman made regarding College Football's King culture reminded me of how different BC is from most FBS schools. We don't and never have had a "King." I've often longed for that iconic winner that could serve as the face of the program, but maybe it is better that we don't. For whatever we miss by not having a "Woody" or a "JoePa" or "Bear" we also avoid the power struggles and corruption that often comes with an all-powerful Head Coach.

What does a King really provide anyway? Branding...a little nostalgia...someone to embrace. But it doesn't really win you football games or make you a better school. Florida State's losing in the final Bowden years proved that and Penn State has a permanent stain on their whole community because of their Kingdom.

BC's had some dynamic leaders, but none have ever stayed long enough to reach statue status. Our winningest coach and longest tenured even left and no one put up a fight to keep him. TOB could have been our icon. A little more fire and one or two more critical wins and we would have celebrated him like other schools have done with their biggest winners. But it wasn't to be and that's probably a good thing.

When I've profiled coaching candidates in the past, I've hoped that one would stay for a long time. That's changed. I don't want a guy who want to be bigger than the University. Things are better that way.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Emmett Cleary

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part to the key players overachieving.

Senior Offensive Tackle, Emmett Cleary

What he's been: A long-time starter and one of the leaders on offense. Cleary has played on both sides of the line and at both guard and tackle.  When he first arrived, Jags said that he could be the next Costanzo. Tall and lean (for a lineman) Cleary's been a consistent contributor like Costanzo (playing in 36 games and starting 26) yet he's never been the consistently great like Costanzo. How much of Cleary's occasional mistakes or setback are due to talent, coaching or the offense? I think it's been a bit of everything.

What he needs to be: Good isn't good enough anymore. Cleary takes on the big responsibility of left tackle this year. Rettig has been running for his life the past three years. If the offense is ever going to take off, they need to improve pass protection. That will start with Cleary. And in the ACC, he'll be facing some of the top defensive linemen in the country on a weekly basis. Cleary's always been good with speed guys on the edge. He'll also need to improve on run blocking. If Martin uses more stretches and zones like Logan, that will leave Cleary often sealing off edges on run plays.

Why I like his chances to shine: We've seen offensive lineman make huge leaps from season to season before. Part of it is maturing into their bodies and understanding the position. But a lot is coaching. I think Cleary has been underserved in that department. Even if Bollman is not some OL guru, I think Cleary playing in a more pass happy, up tempo offense will play to his strengths. I  think his leadership position and the coaching staff's confidence in him will make him shine at LT. I think he will live up to his potential and have multiple games where he dominates and plays mistake free football. Plus he still has the NFL on his horizon. If he can perform at an elite level, he can jump up from a late round afterthought to a high-round pick.

I think if Cleary stays healthy, he shoot up draft boards. If BC's offense breaks out of its doldrums he'll be named an all conference player.

BC using coordinators as face(s) of the program?

BC posted this "thank you" video as an invite to a special practice for season ticket holders. Notice anyone missing? It is just a silly Youtbue video but I find it very telling that the school left out the Head Coach. This is college football. Your head coach is the face of the program. Ours isn't even mentioned in a direct marketing message to our most loyal customers.

There are many likely explanations for Spaz's absence. He's not particularly good on camera. He's never really shown any sort of enthusiasm for this sort of thing. And I think BC has heard enough to know that Spaz is not very popular with our fan base. No reason to trot him out when it will just dampen excitement about the upcoming season.

I like Bill McGovern and Doug Martin. Both are capable coordinators and leaders. Martin's been a head coach and I know McGovern wants to be one, so giving them face time is not a bad idea. Let's hope they are also given autonomy this year (which hasn't been Spaz's strong suit with coordinators). If these two are given real power, season ticket holders will probably be happy they renewed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Optimism from Football Outsiders and other links

I am a sucker for football analytics and I also really respect CBS's Matt Hinton. So when his ACC preview piece on Football Outsiders listed BC with a .500 record and a 3rd place finish in the division, I was pleasantly surprised. FO is betting on our returning players and the positive trends of the last few games of 2011. I still don't know what to think about the upcoming season, but my love for BC and articles like this have me looking on the bright side.

BC is sending Emmett Cleary and Kaleb Ramsey to Greensboro to represent the school during ACC media days. I think this is actually a great sign for BC and for both players. I expected Cleary to have a break out season last year. He was good, but not all conference. Maybe this year is his chance to shine and get on NFL radars. Ramsey has always had the talent. His health and attitude have been bigger issues. If he is healthy and focused this year, he will be a game changer on D.

Here is more on our newest recruit out of Cincinnati Truman Gutapfel.

Chris Pantale is on the Mackey watch list. The award is given annually to the country's best Tight End.

Beaver Country Day big man Jacquil Taylor is generating local interest. BC has yet to offer, but is following him.

BCeagles.com posted a Q&A with Bobby Swiggert yesterday. I found his talk about paring down the offense encouraging. We need to work on execution not diversity of plays.

HD put out this offseason filler piece ranking coaching jobs in the ACC. I don't really care where she perceives us. When the job changes we will be very attractive to the right guy for us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where is the one that got away?

While we've struggled recruiting Massachusetts players this year, we've cleaned up in Connecticut and in Ohio. Those local kids (or other lay-up recruits) we miss generate plenty of frustration but they happen every year. What's fortunate about our misses though, is that very few have come back to haunt us. When was the last time a great recruit spurned BC and became a star? I can think of a few over the years, but most of the recruits that "got away" had middling careers elsewhere.

Some recent examples of guys who spurned us include Graham Stewart, Arthur Lynch and Joe Boisture. All three committed to BC at one point only to rethink their decisions and go to bigger programs. Stewart washed out at Florida and is now sitting out a transfer year at UConn. Boisture is out of football altogether. Lynch has been a backup at Georgia. He has a chance for a bigger role this season, but so far has not lived up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment. Even with our terrible offense, Chris Pantale has had a much more productive Tight End career.

The closest thing I can think of to a recent recruit who had success elsewhere is Virginia OT Oday Aboushi. But should he even count? He didn't spurn BC. Our admissions office turned him down after he verbaled to BC. Prior to that, you would have to go back to Dorian Bryant. But like Aboushi, his case was less about being seduced by a bigger, flashier program and more about not meeting BC's minimum standards for admissions at one point in time.

Where these guys all over-hyped by the recruiting services? Where they wrong fits at their post-BC choices?  I don't know. I do think a program like BC is probably more patient with players than some of the bigger programs. We won't rush a guy out of the program to free up a scholarship. We prefer to redshirt. And I think the nature of a program -- with good academic support and less of a big school mentality -- keeps kids from falling through the cracks. Every recruit thinks they are going to be a star, so selling them on development and a safety net doesn't sway many, but it should. If anything BC should use a guy like Marcus Grant -- a local kid who left a Big Ten program to come "home" as an example to Massachusetts recruits. Massachusetts kids keep leaving to play at the "highest level." Our counter should be that we will develop them for life and the NFL (the real highest level) and not chew them up and spit them out like a football factory.

I am sure that there will be a guy in the near future who decommits from BC and becomes a star. Or a guy we should have had who leads another team to glory. Right now I am just glad that we have very few regrets  when it comes to old recruits. Our recruiting still has major challenges, but that's one area where things have broken our way.

[Note to commentors: let me know if you think I missed any recruits who "got away."] 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Key Players for 2012: Kevin Pierre-Louis

This is a series on the key players for the 2012 season. Big things are expected for some, while others will need to improve over their previous performances. If 2012 is a good year, it will be in part to the key players overachieving.

Junior Linebacker, Kevin Pierre-Louis

What he's been: BC's second-leading tackler. On most teams KPL would already be a star. But he played next to college football's tackling machine. There wasn't much room for headlines or an extra tackle with Luke Kuechly doing so much. Pierre-Louis also missed three games last year and played through pain in others. When healthy, he showed great anticipation and was a very solid tackler. In a way, he's a lot like Kuechly.

What he needs to be: KPL needs to be more of a game changer. He's got the speed and instincts to do it. Also, his role won't be in the middle, so he can take chances that Kuechly could not. Ideally he'd have a season like Herzy's 2008. Where on one play he's blitzing the QB and on the next he's running a fumble back. While our scheme has defined much of the defensive success the past five years, we've also benefited from great individual performances. To be great again, we need someone with the tools like KPL to become elite.

Why I like his chances to shine: KPL played really well in the first half of 2011. If he had stayed healthy, he would've been all conference. There's no reason he can't be even better this year. We'll miss Kuechly, but the defensive line might be better this year -- that will create more opportunities for big plays from Pierre-Louis. I also like his stats. His tackles for loss and pass break ups in a shortened season give me hope that he'll do even more when playing in all games and playing at 100%.

I think KPL takes off this year. I think he'll be first team ACC, lead BC with over 110 tackles, and have at least two INTs and two fumble recoveries.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Montel Harris to Temple now officially official

Although it's been rumored and reported multiple times over the past few months, Montel Harris finally enrolled in Temple over the weekend. Supposedly the delay was due to Harris completing his academic commitments to BC. To be eligible at Temple, Montel must have completed his BC degree.

All the past comments hold true for me. I hope Montel has a great end to his career and gets his shot at the NFL. He was a pleasure to watch the past four years.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

What would Spaz need to do to hold on?

I've been speculating about new coaches all summer, but what if Spaz actually pulls through? Crystal Ball Run thinks it could happen. Ultimately it will come down to our record. In my opinion, this is how it would play out. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

4-8 or worse...
Spaz is gone. Back to back 8 loss seasons would be too much. The diehards are already calling for his head. Another embarrassing and hard to watch season would kill goodwill among the casual BC fans.

8-4 or better...
Spaz is safe. We have the talent and the schedule to be this good. I don't think it will happen, but if it does we will see Year 5 of the Spaz era.

6 or 7 wins...
Spaz "retires." He gets his money. He gets to go out with a winning record. He saves face. This is probably the best outcome for everyone.

This is the unknown in my opinion. I could see the powers that be wanting to keep him one more year. Especially if we end on a high note.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Coaches to Watch this fall Part 3: Current Defensive Coordinators

Since everyone has Spaz on the Hotseat List, now is as good a time as any to look at future BC head coaching candidates. Unlike our past profile series, the timing and style on these posts will be a little different. Instead of being weeks or days away from a potential change, we have the benefit of a whole season to evaluate these guys. Some stocks will rise, while others will fall and it will make our usual scoreboard watching that much more interesting.

BC has turned to college coordinators in the past to step up as Head Coach. While there is risk with any hire, the nice thing about a rising coordinator is that they've usually proven themselves adapt at one phase of the game and you have the chance to hire the next great football mind. Plus most coordinators come in hungry and hard working, looking to make the most of their first chance as a head coach. Because Spaz is a a defensive coach, I am sure BC fans will want a replacement with an offensive background, but that doesn't mean we should overlook these guys.

Pat Narduzzi
Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State
Until Bruce Feldman dropped his name as a Spaz replacement, I don't think many BC fans were even thinking about Narduzzi. On paper he's a very solid candidate. He's got BCS experience at Michigan State. The Spartans love him and recently gave him a huge raise. While they haven't been elite, I like what Michigan State has done under Dantonio (and Narduzzi). They overachieve given their talent base and work hard on the recruting front. Because of his stops in Cincinnati and growing up in northeast Ohio, Narduzzi has ties to our important midwest recruiting territories. What I like most about him as a candidate is his time at Rhode Island. I don't think our new head coach needs ties to BC, but I do think it helps if he comes in with an understanding of what BC is and can be. If you've coached at URI, you know what New England football is like. You know about the difference in fan interest and the space crunch BC is under. And you'll know that BC can be successful with the right coaching.
What to Watch for in 2012: How high Narduzzi's profile rises. He interviewed for head coaching jobs last year. If Michigan State continues to improve and Narduzzi earns more accolades, other schools will have interest.

Mark Stoops
Defensive Coordinator, Florida State
Normally I would worry about the fit of a guy like Stoops. He's coming from a football factory. His last name brings some good and bad baggage. But I do think there are some strong pluses in his candidacy at BC. Like Narduzzi, Stoops has deep ties to the Ohio Catholic high school circuit. He also has a good understanding of the ACC landscape after stops in Miami and Florida State. His FSU defenses still begin with the 4-3, so he could take our current roster and install his own system. Although the Stoops name isn't a household name in Boston, his track record, name and personality would be an easy sell to the BC faithful.
What to Watch for in 2012: How Florida State handles their expectations. If this is the year they finally return to being "Florida State" Stoops will get much of the credit and be a hot name. Even if they are good, not great, he's still viable at BC.

Manny Diaz
Defensive Coordinator, Texas
Due to his unusual path into coaching and his sudden rise, Diaz is a very hot name among coordinators. Aside from his time coaching at other ACC schools, there's not much tying him to BC. But I think his ability to recruit, his Xs and Os and the ability to be the face of the program deserve consideration. Diaz is young, but serving as a coordinator at Texas is a good proving ground. Mack Brown is in CEO mode, so his coordinators do much of the heavy lifting. It's great preparation for making the jump to head coach.
What to Watch for in 2012: TOB's potential retirement. Diaz is one of the names on many NC State wish lists. If TOB steps down, some in their fan base will make a big push for Diaz to return to Raleigh.

Bob Diaco
Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco is one of the most relentless recruiters in college football. If he took over at BC, I think we could upgrade our talent quickly. The New Jersey native has plenty of ACC experience and has recruited at schools with academic restrictions. I don't love his scheme (3-4) and have a few concerns about his defenses being good but never dominant. But he would be a very good fit at BC and worth the risk.
What to Watch for in 2012: An Irish implosion. Although his seat is not as hot as Spaz's, Kelly needs to win this year. If he's fired, we can't hire his fired defensive coordinator. The perception would be terrible among fans and recruits.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

More people to follow

A little over a month ago, I posted a few BC related names that you should follow. Now, I have a few more...

BC Hockey Blog: twitter and blog. The diehard hockey fans already follow, but for those more casual BC hockey fans, this is a good place to keep up with our best team.

Warren K. Zola: twitter. BC's Assistant Dean of Graduate programs is pretty plugged into the student athlete  scene at BC. He contributes to the Huffington Post on Sports Law, sports news and College Sports.

Lou Imbriano: twitter. The former Patriots executive and current BC professor tweets about a variety of sports and sports marketing news. In my opinion, BC should be leaning on him more with regards to how we market our programs.

BC Che Chi's: twitter. A parody account that only a BC alum would understand. Parody accounts are tough to sustain, but I look forward to Che Chi's contributions come football season.

Justin Rowland: twitter. The Rivals recruiting writer is breaking more and more BC news lately. If you follow recruiting, you should probably follow Rowland.

Pass the Van Nest koolaid and other links

The Globe's feature on 5th year basketball transfer Andrew Van Nest has me fired up. Aside from being a good story, what if this kid can actually play? I know he didn't see the court much at Harvard, but do you trust Tommy Amaker when it comes to managing a roster? The best part of the Van Nest situation is that there is no risk to BC. If he doesn't pan out, he is gone within a year. But who knows, maybe he can give us 10 minutes a game. We need another big body and 6'11 with shooting touch translates into most leagues.

Earlier in the week, the ACC locked in a deal with the Orange Bowl. There is still plenty of conjecture about what it means but there are some strong points in the deal. First the ACC will be able to sell the media rights. That gives us the chance to earn similar dollars to the Big Four conferences. Second, the Orange Bowl will be a New Year's Day game. That's huge as it should help travel and ticket sales. Finally Notre Dame will have an affiliation to the game. One more tie to the Irish is a good thing from a TV standpoint.

Connecticut WR Dave Coggins supposedly verbaled to BC the other day. Rivals says it is not a sure thing yet. BC offered a scholarship to Ohio Dlineman Truman Gutapfel. BC is hoping to get two Florida targets as a packaged deal.

Another Cincinnati-area BC target Evan Jansen committed to Indiana. BC also lost out to California offensive lineman Alex Redmond. Florida LB Nick Internicola seemed like a solid BC target, but he committed to Rutgers earlier this week.

Matt Humphrey is adjusting to his third college team.

Parker Milner has impressed the Bruins at their developmental camp.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

History Lesson: the Eagle

In honor of the 4th of July, I thought it might be a good time to revisit one of the symbols BC shares with our great nation: the eagle.

Although the Eagle is now synonymous with BC through statues and other references on campus, we were without an official mascot during our first few decades. In 1920 the Heights published a cartoon showing a cat licking a plate of its sports rivals. Yes, we could have been the "Cats." While that would have inspired plenty of nicknames and unique imagery, Father McLaughlin didn't think a cat was the proper representative for our university. He suggested the eagle due to its majesty, power and freedom. We officially became the "Eagles" that same year.

Contrary to millions of sports writers' work, we are not the "golden eagles." And despite Baldwin's looks and name we are not the "bald eagles" either.

Two other FBS programs also use the eagle as their mascot. Like us Eastern Michigan is just the Eagles. Southern Mississippi uses Golden Eagles.

I can't find any evidence that McLaughlin wanted to tie BC's symbols to those of the United States, but it is a nice connection.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More Turf news

This is bordering on overkill, but I am going all in...

The good people at AstroTurf have premiered a live video feed of the Alumni Stadium turf installation. Now instead of spending your holiday week outdoors with family and friends, you can watch as synthetic grass is laid down in Chestnut Hill.

Keep fighting the good fight Lax diehards!

AJ's tweet brought the following comments on BC's Facebook page to my attention. After BC posted an update on the new field, Gene and Spaz's critics took to Facebook to vent. The usual complaints about both guys, tailgating and the state of the program filled the discussion. But what stood out to me was one simple comment from Connor Wilson: "bring back lacrosse."  I don't share the BC Lax community's mission, but I respect their passion. Lacrosse is never coming back, but that doesn't mean BC shouldn't hear about it every day.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Anderson interview and other links

BCeagles.com posted a Q&A with Ryan Anderson. He talked about his summer break and his new teammates. Hopefully the new guys are as far along as Anderson feels they are.

HD is banking on our experience as a reason we could surprise people this year.

BC keeps hitting Ohio prospects hard. The latest target is Cinci LB Marcus Oliver.

Here is more on future Eagle Dan Monteroso. Monteroso also generated some interest from basketball schools. Maybe Spaz will let him play basketball in the Spring.

This matrix took a different look at the Hot Seat issue. With regards to losing and underachieving, Spaz is not as bad as some of the bigger names on the list.

Former eagles Carolyn Swords and Molly Schaus discussed how Title IX impacted their sporting careers.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

NFL attendance problems a lesson for BC

BC's faced some attendance issues the past few years. We like to blame the tailgating or Spaz or the schedule, but the reality is there are multiple factors. Just look at the attendance issues facing the most popular league in American sports -- the NFL. If they can't get butts in the seats, how can BC? The NFL has a few different solutions in play. Perhaps, BC can learn from them.

Fewer Seats
The NFL is lowering the bar, so that blackout rules don't require sellouts. Blackouts are not an issue in college, but perhaps few seats will help demand and make Alumni seem full. I don't want to tear out seats, but maybe we can replace the bleachers with actual seats. That would take up more space, eliminate seats and improve the watching experience. 

Lower prices
The internet has added fluidity to the ticket market. It used to be BC fans would buy season ticket packages to assure themselves Notre Dame tickets or some other desirable game. Now most know that they can buy the game they want without committing to others they don't. One way to win them back is to lower the investment. BC will miss out on the mark up of the premium games, but at least they will have more people invest in a whole season. BC is indirectly doing this already with their discounts of the less desirable games. If the NFL is lowering prices on parking and concessions, BC should also explore it. Like the NFL we are getting more and more money from TV. Why not make the ingame experience more affordable.

In-game experience
This has been discussed ad nauseum, but needs to be looked at again. I don't think it is as simple as the NFL's push for wireless. We need the game day experience to be inviting from the moment the gates open to the moment the last fan is leaving. It is about the music, the ushers, the video boards, the halftime, the activities during commercial breaks. I don't want BC to turn into a barrage of nonsense, but we can do more. 

I don't go to many BC games. That's mostly because of my location. But I also like the watching the game in my home. The convenience, the visuals, and the costs all factor into my decision. But live sports is still a great experience...especially college football. I just hope BC doesn't wait around until the Alumni is empty. We need to learn from what works for the NFL and what doesn't.