Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bates signs future deal with Ohio State

A week and a half ago I wrote BC should schedule Ohio State. On Wednesday BC's new AD Brad Bates announced that he signed a deal with Ohio State. As much as I would like to say I knew something was in the works or that I had sent out vibes like some "The Secret" devotee, it is really just coincidence that it worked out. In fact, the driver of my earlier post was BC's hole in the 2013 schedule (which Bates still needs to address). But this is exciting and positive news for BC Football. Although the the home and home series won't begin until 2020, there are multiple benefits to signing and announcing the deal now.

Considering he's only been on the job two weeks, this is a pretty bold statement from our new AD. The game is a long way off, but the deal still sends a message that Bates wants BC to be relevant on a national scene and understands that our fanbase needs some excitement. It also shows that he's planning around future years where we won't play Notre Dame annually. Because of the ACC-Notre Dame rotation, BC will only face the Irish six out of ten years. It makes sense to use the non-Notre Dame years as a chance to schedule other traditional powers.

But there is a huge benefit to the program by signing this distant deal. It allows BC coaches for the next seven years to sell BC-Ohio State to Ohio kids. Even for the recruits who will graduate before we even step into the Horse Shoe, this will be a selling point. A new coach can say our AD is committed to big plans and big ideas and point to this game.

Odds say that our next BC Head Coach, won't be the Head Coach in 2020. But I hope he leaves BC in a place that we are ready for the Buckeyes. I also hope that this is just a small sign of Bates big thinking.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BC-themed 30 for 30 suggestions for ESPN

ESPN debuts another 30 for 30 tonight with the "Ghosts of Ole Miss" and yet again the series presents a film with a college theme. Mining college sports makes sense since the professional leagues have their own in-house producers focusing on lesser known stories and are experts at crafting a history and mythology for their sports. Because so many college stories are left untold, in my opinion some of the best films in the series have been college focused like "The U" and "Pony Excess." Former BC basketball star Chris Herren was featured in an ESPN Film and BC grad Joe Tessitore produced ESPN Film's "Roll Tide War Eagle" but neither is technically a "30 for 30" film. There are many BC stories that could carry a film. Here are few of my suggestions.

"The miracle before the 'Miracle'"
Flutie's story is well known, but there is much more to it than one Hail Mary. I think a more interesting film might be how he and Jack Bicknell really helped change college football with BC's passing offense. In the early '80s, BC and BYU were shattering records with their prolific passing schemes. The concepts and aggressiveness were way ahead of their time and still influence college and pro football today. How they arrived at the offense, why Flutie succeeded within the system and why it took two more decades to become mainstream would make for a great movie.

"Coughlin in charge"
As Tom Coughlin keeps winning Super Bowls his legend and legacy grow. NFL Films recently produced a special on him, but I still think his time at BC could carry its own feature. What did he face when he arrived? What did his college players think of him then and now? How he has changed? Did he ever consider staying at BC forever? Are all questions that could carry a narrative.

"Goodfellas go to college"
I was a student during the '90s gambling scandal. There wasn't much to it. However, the basketball point shaving scandal could make a great movie. I doubt BC would be very cooperative. And with Henry Hill dead, one of the most intriguing characters is not available to give his side. The other challenge to the film would be player cooperation. All the accused and alleged players have remained relatively silent about what happened. I don't know if ESPN's cameras would be enough to finally get them to talk in more detail.

"The upset that saved BC"
In 1942 undefeated BC lost its final regular season game to Holy Cross at Fenway Park. The loss caused the team and BC fans to cancel their postgame celebration at Coconut Grove night club. That night the club caught on fire killing nearly 500 people. It is assumed that if BC had won and gone on to celebrate, many of the team would have died in the blaze. This is probably a little to dated to draw ESPN's interest, but it could make for a good documentary.

Filmmakers could build full features around Peter Frates, Jay McGillis, Jerry York or Welles Crowther, but I don't think ESPN would see enough marketing dollars to support a "30 for 30" for any of them.  The BU-BC Hockey rivalry has already been a subject of a sports film by another company. I would love to see a film about the rise of the Big East and about the conference shuffles of the 2000s, but ESPN is too involved in those stories to allow someone to make an honest film out of them. If you could give someone a blank check and a camera, what BC story would you want ESPN to tell?

Monday, October 29, 2012

ESPN/ABC pretends they are not putting BC-ND in primetime and other links

ESPN reserved the right to flex the ACC schedule in a six day window. That means that they won't announce the start times or networks for the November 10th games until this Sunday. BC and Notre Dame will either be a noon game or an 8 PM game. People are speculating that this is a hedge just in case Pitt beats Notre Dame this weekend and knocks Notre Dame out of the Top 10. I predict it will be a evening game regardless of what happens this weekend. Notre Dame has been a very good TV draw this year. Their  games against Oklahoma and Stanford were the highest rated college games of their respective weekends. Even with a loss, there is viewer momentum built into them and Teo's Heisman push. This will be a night game.

Florida DT Kevin Maurice enjoyed his visit this weekend but did not commit.

SI posted their ACC basketball preview. Like me, they don't think we will be the worst team in the conference.

Hockey beat UMass-Lowell on Sunday.

BC moved up in the ACC's Power Rankings.

We know about BC's graduation rate, but I thought Biko Paris's quotes in this article were enlightening and help explain how BC does it.

Spazoween 2012

Spaz may not inspire our fanbase to buy tickets or support the team, but he does inspire some good Halloween costumes. This version of Spaz made an appearance at Alumni Saturday. The clownshoes are a nice touch.

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Maryland

On ESPN3 you could sense how excited the players were to win. Based on in-person reports, the joy lasted  well after the game and everyone felt like they won the Super Bowl. I felt glad for the players. Football can be an especially long season when things are not going well. Looking back you could see how much better the play was, yet we nearly blew it. I hope that if we continue to play better, we don't let mistakes lead to blown leads and lost wins. I hope the momentum from this carries over in everyone's effort and confidence.


Rettig pulled it out in the end, but I still don't feel like he is as sharp as he was in the beginning of the year. I feel like he is forcing things or waiting too long for something to happen. His instincts -- once one of his strengths -- seem off. For example there were plenty of times when he could have tucked and run the ball on Saturday. He's not a runner, but it would have been positive yards and kept Maryland honest. Instead he waits and waits and waits and looks for the big play. It is not always there. He missed some open guys and his fundamentals slipped a little. He was lucky he wasn't intercepted.

Andre Williams' fumble was brutal. The miscue came early, but even then if felt big. Williams also didn't do much running the ball (although the holes weren't there). I do like how Williams has improved at pass blocking. He threw his body around to get in the way of blitzers and often chucked one guy and then came across the pocket to chip another. Dudeck had a great TD catch. His pass blocking was not as good.

Huge day for Amidon. He was solid throughout and didn't have any drops. He also had some nice runs. Coleman was good. His footwork on his first catch was really nice. Glad to have Pantale back and making an impact. Swigert layed out for a big throw but couldn't pull it in. Elliott and Evans each had a catch but weren't thrown to much.

The offensive line provided decent pass protection early and then late for Rettig. When they had more breakdowns, everything stalled out.The run blocking was not that good. White allowed a sack and so did Cleary. Gallik had an exchange screw up that led to a wasted drive. Vardaro was okay. Wetzel was pretty good.

I didn't love Martin's play calling. I don't know what's going on, but the rhythm he and Rettig had early on this year seems to be off. Our first two drives were great, but then we struggled to find a string of good plays until late in the game The third down stats were putrid and I felt like too often we were looking for big plays instead of just ones that would keep the chains moving. If the run game isn't working I wish we would try more short passing.

Defense: B-

Edebali had a nice game. He doesn't make big plays, but he also doesn't make many mistakes and hustles like few on the team. Borcich's INT was a nice play for a big guy. Now we just need him to make more plays when he's not dropping back. Wujciack was made some nice plays. Murray and Appiah were quiet. Mihalik got on the field in the second half but didn't make a huge impact. Moore was okay. As a group the DLine played better, but still didn't dominate the line of scrimmage. There is room for improvement.

I thought Clancy was just ok. He had a few tackles but was not great in pass coverage. Maryland went at Divitto through the air early. When we replaced him with Joy, things were better. I like Joy's aggresiveness and he covered a lot of ground. KPL made some big plays early, but he also missed a few -- especially his near sack on the blitz.

Noel wasn't tested much through the air, but helped out in the run game. I thought it was his best game in a few weeks. Sylvia was picked on and did okay. His tackling was good. I thought Simmons played well. Asprilla wasn't near the action much. Rositano was ok.

To McGovern's credit we did mix things up. Our coverage and who was responsible for which zone was often disguised and kept Rowe offbalance. But how could we not blitz more? Why not try something against really raw QB? I also think our adjustments on Diggs were poor. Maryland put him in the slot often and left us exposed covering him with a LB. And we really didn't do much to counter. A better Offensive Coordinator/QB combo would have burned us more with that mismatch.

Special Teams: B

Spiffy set the tone early with his aggressive and smart returns. I like that he ran straight ahead and dodged some tackles.

Levano had another uneven day. The worst part about it, is there doesn't seem to be any reason to it. I like that they tried the rugby style to perhaps reset his punting "yips." Freese was solid.

Our kick coverage was pretty good. So was our punt coverage. When you consider we contained Diggs in this aspect of the game, it was a positive.

Overall: B-

Admit it. When we blew the lead in the 4th, you didn't think we would win. I know I didn't. And that is not New England cynicism or being a pessimistic BC fan. It is about Spaz's history of mismanaging games. I also worried about Rettig. At that point in the game, he seemed lost and incapable of leading a long drive. But I was wrong and the team showed some resiliency and focus. It is that type of resiliency that has me hoping for a strong finish.

I don't feel like coaching won this game nor did anything to screw it up. But even that neutral impact is an improvement. I think this team has underachieved and maybe only now played up to some if its potential. If we want to build on this it we will need Spaz to keep the players focused and give the team winning gameplans. It can be done. That last drive proved it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A win is a win

When things are going bad you start to wonder if we'll ever win again. Even as a favorite, I didn't expect things to be easy. When we wasted opportunities and had issues on 3rd down I started to worry. When Maryland took the lead, I thought the game was over. But the players proved resilient and saved their best for the last drive of the day. It wasn't pretty, but it counts as a win.

I feel great for the players. They are starved for some good news and watching their reactions to the win made me smile. With the "W" BC avoids their worst season since 1978. Now let's hope they build off this and finish strong.

I'll have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday night.

In-game comments post: Maryland

If you measure enthusiasm for BC football based on in-game comments, then people are really down on the team. I think people are beyond complaining and the team is not providing many highlights to cheer about. Today we are favored. Maybe our luck will finally turn. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

ICYMI the Moore piece and other links

I welcomed Julian Benbow to the BC beat hoping that he would bring new life to the same old coverage. He's been fine. Better than his predecessor but I rarely read anything that grabbed me like some of his work prior to moving to the BC beat did. That changed when I read his feature on Malachi Moore earlier this week. Moore's story is a good one and I felt Benbow's reporting and writing delivered it perfectly. Let's hope a few more gems like that come down the beat this season.

Dave Dudeck got the Globe/Herald treatment Friday. I've been happy with his play and think he'll blossom over the next few years. I did laugh at Spaz's nickname for him though. It wasn't the name or Spaz's delivery that struck me as funny. It was that Dudeck just assumed that Spaz didn't know his name.

BC continued to be one of the top scoring GSR schools. I don't expect this to change under Brad Bates.

WEEI's hosts have already chimed in, but now their writers are calling for Spaz's head.

Game Watches: Maryland

This is an internet feed game so the comfort and convenience of true television broadcast isn't there. It also means the likely hood of your random sports bar showing the game is not very good. But if you do want to see it on a big screen, join your local game watch.

Chicago Game Watch 
Tripoli Tap
1147 West Armitage Avenue

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree (on 3rd Avenue btw 34th and 35th Streets)

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's in San Francisco
2064 Polk Street (corner of Polk and Broadway)
San Francisco

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BC-Maryland preview

I've covered BC's relationship with Randy Edsall in the past. I still hold the opinion that I have no regrets about not hiring him at various times over the years. But he should be a lesson to our new coach. Edsall took over a mediocre Maryland team and wasn't afraid of ruffling feathers. He had huge attrition and a terrible first season. But he regrouped, ramped up his recruiting efforts and has doubled his win total so far. A turnaround at BC can happen as quickly even if we have a rough season in 2013.

Hot Seat Thermometer
Although his interactions with the press are getting testy, I think things have cooled a bit for Spaz. It's over. He knows it and we know it. But as I wrote, Spaz is very likely to finish out the season. That's got to be a little relief. Now he can stop worrying about what is going to happen and focus on winning a few more games.
Temperature: a sizzling fajita plate

Overlooked Storyline: This is probably the last time BC will be favored this season
I am still amazed by the point spread in this game. It remains at BC-1.5. Most of that can be rationalized by Maryland's QB issues, but this team has still accomplished more than BC. After Maryland, the rest of BC's opponents are at or above .500. The only way BC is favored again is if we win this weekend and Wake Forest looks really bad. We will be heavy underdogs against Notre Dame and get at least three points each against NC State and Virginia Tech.

Three Simple Keys
1. Rettig distributing the ball. He's been looking at Swigert as much as he focused on Amidon earlier in the year. If we are going to start scoring again and keep Maryland on their toes, we need Chase to work all his progressions and get multiple people involved in the offense.
2. Stop them on third down. Our offense cannot score if they cannot get on the field. Last week was pathetic. This week we need to be creative and apply pressure on third down.
3. Stop Diggs. He's their best reciever and will be the primary target of either QB. WRs have been getting open on us all year. Maybe this week we should try some double coverage.

Gambling Notes
-- The home team in this series has lost three straight
-- Edsall is 2-9 after a loss while head coach at Maryland
-- Spaz is 0-6 against the spread when facing an FBS team this year
The current line is BC-1.5

As most know BC will be wearing uniforms to honor the Wounded Warrior Project. This will be the first time BC has used white as a base color for our jerseys during a home game in 27 years. [UPDATE: Reid Oslin checked in to alert me to the fact that BC was the "home team" when we played Ohio State in the 1995 Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands. Dan Henning elected to have us in whites because of the heat.]

Scoreboard Watching
I'll be watching Notre Dame and Oklahoma. No disrespect to Pitt, but if the Irish win, they will be undefeated when we face them. Under normal years, I would say that is right where we want them. This year, I fear an ass kicking worse than the Florida State game.

I hope to see...
The defense make some big plays. Not only is it frustrating to watch them get picked apart, it is maddening that they rarely make game changing plays. Where are the turnovers? Where are the tackles behind the line of scrimmage? That needs to change this weekend.

BC is in trouble if...
Maryland completes more than 50% of their passes. They are untested and we need to disrupt their rhythm, force bad throws and get pressure.

Bottom Line
The point spread on this game surprised me because of public perception. I think most casual fans view BC as terrible and Spaz as a lame duck. But I do understand why we are favored. We've underachieved but still have enough pieces to be competitive. Maryland doesn't know what they have at QB and we are at home.  All of that leans towards BC. I also think a little dumb luck and some guys having big games gives us another win over the Terps.
Final Score: BC 24, Maryland 14

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There won't be blood

Since the embarrassment in Tallahassee, I've been pounding the drum to fire Spaz now. Based on multiple conversations I've had the past week with people closer to the situation, it doesn't sound like Brad Bates sees it the same way. Barring any issue with the players, Spaz is going to finish the season. I don't agree with the mindset, but I understand why Bates wants it that way.

Whatever benefit Bates gets from firing Spaz is offset in his mind by the temporary mess it creates. If you fire Spaz you have to promote a interim. That's a political process. That will leave hurt feelings on the staff and team. You also then create a situation where the interim might build momentum, win a few games and build a coalition to get the job full time. I think we all agree BC needs a clean start, so I understand that aspect of this. I also think Bates wants the players and staffers to finish the season the right way. From what I gather the players are still playing hard and united. Hopefully it pays off. While it appears at times that the coaching staff is checked out, let's hope they realize that working hard the rest of the way will help their reputations.

There is also a rumor floating around that BC and Spaz have already come to terms on a buyout and resignation timeline. Not true. It might come to that, but nothing has been broached or even outlined directly with Spaz yet. He's still the coach.

BC hired Bates for a reason and to do a lot more than make a coaching change. He's making evaluations and preparing a process. I respect that. The fan and blogger in me might not want to hear it, but the ultimate goal is to rebuild BC football.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Revisiting the Under Armour white stripe helmet

Brad Bates has a lot on his plate. As much as I like giving him unsolicited advice on the big issues, I want to use his second day on the job to address a trivial matter. We need to get rid of the white stripe/stained glass helmet! Firing Spaz may have to wait, but the helmet is something that can be rectified before the season is over.

The helmet may look cool. Who am I to judge taste and style? My idea of cool are BC whale pants. It may be a hit with players. If these gimmicks didn't work, Oregon wouldn't unveil a new helmet every week. Under Armour may like it because it reinforces our stained-glass motif. All of that doesn't matter. What matters is that we will forever associate that helmet and this look with Spaz's losing seasons. Since its debut BC has been in a tailspin. BCI dubbed the 49er knockoff the "Mendoza helmet" because our winning percentage with it on was less than .200. And we keep losing. Helmets don't win games but they do project an image. This helmet screams: "Spaz football."

I like the idea of uniform gimmicks. Do things like the Wounded Warrior Project. Try a Pro Combat look once a season. But week in and week out we need our guys wearing this.

This helmet may be plain. It is not the one Flutie wore, but it is distinct, it is ours. This says: "BC Football."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kickoff time for Wake and other links

The ACC announced that BC's game at Wake Forest will be a 3:30 kickoff and carried on regional networks (probably the same ones that carried the Georgia Tech game). While I would prefer the ESPN channels, I am encouraged that even during a terrible season our games are getting broadcasts. It speaks to the lasting power of our BC's brand. Imagine what things would be like with aggressive Marketing?

Over the weekend Steve Donahue picked up a recruit for the 2013 class. Garland Owens is a wing player but does bring more of a slashing style of play to Donahue's offense. The idea of becoming a better shooter was one of BC's appeals.

 Hockey East voted Johnny Gaudreau its player of the week.

As everyone noted, the point spread for BC-Maryland has already had some funny shifts.

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Georgia Tech

For those who wonder about the logistics of writing these recaps, Saturday was ideal. Attending the game in person causes you to miss many things but you notice other details that the camera doesn't catch. Watching the game broadcast back fills in the details you cannot pick up in person. As for impressions from the game, I felt the team is really lacking unity and organization. You saw players getting on the field late, the confusion in some play calling and formation penalties. I also noticed some guys giving good efforts while others seemed checked out. After the game there were rumors of a player issue in the lockerroom, but the gossip I heard was that there were no fights. Just guys yelling about mistakes and how this season is not over. I hope they do unite and get back to winning. Spaz sucks, but these players are not playing well. Everyone is underachieving.

Offense: D

Rettig's stats were fine but this wasn't his best game. I felt he forced some throws and missed some huge potential plays. I also think he is locking in too early. On the INT, the safety just read him and slid over for the pick. You can also tell he's not spreading the ball around by the number of players involved in the plays. If he wants to get back to the effectiveness we had in the first part of the season, that means getting the ball  to your third or fourth option.

Andre Williams is getting better. His stats were worse but I felt he found some good holes and made good cuts accordingly. He was also good when asked to go out in a passing route. Of course it wouldn't be Spaz football without a running back fumble. Williams abligded and it killed our drive. Dudeck was fine.

As a group the offensive line wasn't the problem. Though we still had some issues. Gallik struggled again and at one point had guys just step right around him. How can that sort of things still be happening? He also had a terrible snap that killed one of our possession. Cleary was okay, as was Wetzel. Vardaro was fine. I thought White played well. Some of the bigger holes came from his blocks.

Swigert played well. He's good at finding the soft spots in the zone. Amidon was good but had some awful drops. His runs after the catch were pretty good. Pantale dropped a TD too. Coleman was okay. What I appreciate about Coleman is that he does a good job of turning upfield, even if it looks a little awkward.

I've been pleading for Martin to abandon the runs and push the ball threw the air. We did this week but it only worked on a few drives. But as I referenced with Rettig and the Oline, we just had some mistakes (forced throws, drops, turnovers, etc) that were as stalling as anything that Martin could have called. It wasn't a bad gameplan. Just poor execution.

Defense: F

The defensive line was better than they were against Army but still not good enough. Appiah had an off day. Abdesmand did not look good. Ricci made some mistakes. I liked what I saw from Davis. As a converted offensive lineman you never know what skills sets he brings, but he got good push and made some tackles. Wujciak made some nice tackles and was one of the reasons the interior was clogged up. Edebali made some nice plays. Murray was pretty good in extended playing time and deserves more time in the rotation.

I don't know what going on with Clancy but he got swallowed up multiple times on blocks. Then he missed a few tackles. And he wasn't great in pass coverage. One of his worst games of the season. KPL made some plays. Divitto struggled again and was just caught out of position or flat footed on some of the options runs. Joy played hard but seemed to get twisted around a few times. I liked what I saw from Daniels. Hopefully he'll get more playing time as the season progresses.

When we play this offense, our DBs are so focused on helping with the run that we allow some killer pass plays. GT's touchdown right before the half was a perfect example. Sylvia had been cheating up throughout the first half. They did a slight roll out and he was burned by his man downfield. Asprilla was good against the run. Noel struggled in pass coverage. Jones was okay. Simmons was okay too. Rositano missed some tackles and was beat on other plays.

I don't know what to do with McGovern and Spaz. We make running teams look like good passers. We are breaking every record for all the wrong reasons. Why can't he figure this out? We've been masking talent for years. What has changed so much? We played base most of the game, but none of it seemed to matter.

Special Teams: C

The bad news was the Freese miss, the kick coverage breakdowns and the poor punts.

The good news was Swigert's steady hands on the punt returns. Spiffy ran well and so did Jones.

The biggest special teams issue was the roughing the kicker. That is another example of the players not knowing the situation. As I keep saying, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Overall: D

I guess you have to give Spaz and the staff credit for keeping the guys into the game and making a short run in the second half. But how can you toss out kudos for the second half effort when we were down big again in the first half? We weren't ready for their defense. We couldn't get them off the field and we couldn't sustain any offense. Plus there were some weird decisions like the kick at the end of the half instead of the Hail Mary. Going for two later in the game. Wasting a challenge in the second half. It's like now instead of being checked out or ultra conservative he's just winging it. It doesn't matter either way. We are getting the same results.

Spaz keeps saying we're close. I sort of see it, but don't trust him at all. He has had multiple games to get things right, yet here were are. Everyone contributed to this disaster, but it is Spaz's job to begin the turnaround. I don't believe it is in him. Let's hope the players and staff do or else this final stretch will be brutal.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

More of the same in latest loss

The first half was all too familiar. Terrible tackling, no offense and a lopsided score. I was glad to see a little fight in the second but once again bad D and dumb mistakes killed any hope of a comeback.

Grades will come late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Georgia Tech

I haven't seen BC win a game in person during the Spaz regime. Today I bring my bad luck to Bobby Dodd to watch BC take on Georgia Tech. I've talked to many Georgia Tech fans this week and they are as down on their team as we are on ours. I don't know what to expect.

I will try to comment from the game, but make no promises. I often get distracted during a live game. Leave your comments below.

You can follow me on Twitter. I will also join the WZBC guys on the air during a portion of the game. If you are in Section 131, be sure to say hello.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Go Crazy! Why BC should schedule Ohio State in 2013

The ACC's decision to revert back from nine to eight conference games has BC scrambling to find an opponent for 2013. The good news is that plenty of other respectable programs are looking too. BYU needs a game. We could play Northwestern again. ESPN could also find us an opponent too if we are willing to play on a random night. The conventional wisdom is that Brad Bates will wait until after he's hired a new coach to find a 12th opponent. That makes sense. You would want your new guy to have some influence on the process. But there is one potential opponent lingering out there who I think BC should schedule now: Ohio State. This might seem crazy. We will have a new coach, we already scheduled USC and we will probably be coming off our worst season in more than two decades. But where others see a chance for failure, I see opportunity.

No one would expect us to win
New coach. A losing team. On the road against Ohio State early in the year. The spread would probably be 30 points. And that's fine. If we get killed no one cares. If we hang with them for a bit, the new coach gets some respect from the fans and college football establishment. If we shock the world and win, it is huge, program-building momentum swing.

Ohio will still be a recruiting focal point
Regardless of who we hire, he's going to have to recruit in Ohio. Our ties to certain pockets of the state, the strength of various Catholic schools and the alternative that BC provides to lower-level Big Ten recruits means we have to maintain a presence there. Traditionally we've done so by playing MAC teams. Playing at Ohio Stadium once would be an even stronger planting of the flag. Plus it would be a nice trip for all the Ohio kids on our roster.

The payoff
If Ohio State agrees to the game, they will have two options. Either this is a one-time game at Ohio Stadium and they pay us a huge amount (north of $1 million) or they agree to a home and home (with the return game coming in the next few years). If they only want the one game, that's fine. Consider it a boost to the budget to pay for Spaz's buyout. If they agree to a home and home, that is a great tool for our new coach. He can go into recruits' homes and sell that future game. This is what I would say to our recruits and fans: "we had a rough game against Ohio State, but wait until they come to play us in 2015. They will see a whole new Boston College!"

Changing the perception of BC's schedule
BC has been notorious for our careful scheduling. Gene built schedules every year that he felt were balanced and lent to wining seasons. This didn't create a lot of excitement or credibility. But we did win. I was at BC when were were still living with Coughlin's "we'll play anyone" attitude. In 1995 we played a full Big East slate, plus Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Army. It was the toughest schedule in the country. BC went 4-8. Down the road we will need to adopt Gene's scheduling philosophy again, but for next year we can do whatever we want. If we go 4-8 again but the season includes Ohio State and USC it will be considered a good first season for our new coach. And then he and Brad Bates can use this one game any time someone challenges the strength or excitement of our schedule. I can just hear it now: "during the last five years we've played Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Northwestern, etc out of conference."

You only want a coach who wants to play Ohio State
I am sure Brad Bates wants to respect the opinion of our new head coach. But if our new leader doesn't have the hunger and confidence to rebuild BC and take on programs like Ohio State, then he is not the right guy for BC right now. I am all for smart scheduling but every once in a while you need to take a chance. This is BC's chance. Go sign this contract and dot that "I."

Game Watches: Georgia Tech

Note that Philly has entered the Game Watch fray. Boston is in a new location. I understand the Boston crew moving spots. I sometimes sit in different chairs hoping that it will change our luck. As always, if your chapter is not on the list, add it in the comments section.

Boston Game Watch
Ducali Pizzeria & Bar
289 Causeway Street

Chicago Game Watch
Tripoli Tap 1147
West Armitage Avenue

Dallas Game Watch
Christies Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Avenue

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree (on 3rd Avenue btw 34th and 35th Streets)

Philadelphia Game Watch
Tavern On Broad
200 S. Broad Street

Phoenix Game Watch 
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street

San Diego Game Watch 
The Beer Company 602 Broadway
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's in San Francisco
2064 Polk Street (corner of Polk and Broadway)
San Francisco

Washington, DC Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House (formerly Porter's)
1207 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC

Women's Soccer upsets FSU and other links you might have missed this week

Huge win for the Women's Soccer team last night as they beat No. 1 Florida State 3-2 in Newton. It was BC's first win over the Seminoles. Miraculously BC was the first ACC team to score on Florida State this year. The team faces Miami on Sunday.

The brightside to Spaz's poor recruiting? Even if he is fired, we are unlikely to lose any of our recruits since no one wants them according to Rivals. In the same article Pat Forde also calls BC a tough job. I will address that idea at a future date.

Rachid Ibrahim verballed to Pitt, spurning BC and Iowa.

CBS thinks Georgia Tech will win. So does Soaring to Glory.

You can watch the Men's Soccer game with Duke on Youtube.

CFN doesn't think we will win another game this year. CFN also put former Eagle Dominick LeGrande on one of their midseason All America teams.

Field Hockey lost to UConn.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Make the most of it: some advice to current BC football players

Spaz suspended Colin Larmond Jr. He gave the pat "violation of team rules" explanation. The prevailing rumor is that Larmond voiced displeasure with his playing time and BC's direction and Spaz sat him. I understand where both are coming from.

The season is falling apart and Spaz rationalizes that he's got to take control. He's probably got a "you're with us or against us" attitude. Every shaky program in every sport does something similar.

I also feel for Larmond. He came back for a 5th year and isn't even playing on a really bad team. BC could use him. He sees friends like Montel Harris and Dominick LeGrande having good seasons elsewhere. He is probably wondering why he came back. Oh and Spaz sucks. Like really sucks. Not many would want to play for him. But Larmond is learning a good life lesson. There are times to take a stand and there are times to suck it up and make the most of a shitty situation. My advice to the current players is to get back on the field and play.

To the Seniors, you need to suck it up because you don't have much football left. Even if you hate football or are burned out, you will one day look back fondly on these times. You'll be with teammates or catch BC on TV and think back to your time. Don't let it be filled with regret. Don't wish that you had played instead of watched the last few games. You have six weeks left. Practice and play as hard as you can. Leave everything out on the field. Don't do it for Spaz. Do it for yourself and all the people who supported you along the way.

To all the players expected to return, you need to practice and play hard because your new coach is watching. We haven't hired anyone yet, but any new coach worth his salt is going to review every piece of data he has to better understand the team. If you are lacking effort now or are not playing through nagging injuries, do you think the new coach and his staff are going to have faith in you? They are going to move on and fill the roster as quickly as they can with "their guys." You'll be even more of an afterthought. The only way to prevent that is to build your reputation now as a hard worker and a coachable guy.

As I've been reminding BC fans, this is not the first time a BC season has fallen apart. The players need to remember that too. This disaster can be personally or professionally rewarding if you just suck it up and play.

BC-Georgia Tech preview

This week's game is a different sort of paradox. Consider it the movable object vs the resistible force. Georgia Tech's defense is bad, to the point that they fired their Defensive Coordinator midseason. As anyone reading this knows, BC's defense is also terrible. There is no reason to believe that either will dramatically improve this week. Who has the ball going for the score on the last possession will probably win. Both teams are trying to save their season so there will also be an added level of desperation in how the game is played. This is probably a good thing for Spaz. A chaotic game might just lead to a BC victory.

Hot Seat Thermometer
It is over. There is no if...only a matter of when. I've been pleading for Bates to fire Spaz now, but most speculate that he'll wait until after the season. Last week's embarrassment only added to the chorus that Spaz's time was up. Even the broadcasters of the game -- who normally stay neutral or very bland with their criticism -- pointed out all of Spaz's issues and how far we've fallen in five years.
Temperature: Surface of the sun

Overlooked Storyline: Spaz's first game as a head coach was against Paul Johnson
Although he was just the interim head coach between TOB and Jags, Spaz did officially record a win for our 2006 bowl game against Navy. If you remember Johnson's guys moved the ball pretty well against us. It was only a late fumble while trying to kill clock that gave BC a chance to steal the win. Would things have been different if we lost and Spaz took the blame? Would he have still been promoted two years later? I don't know, but it shows that even then Spaz's game management left a lot to be desired.

Three Simple Keys
1. Win at the line of scrimmage. The cliche when playing the option is "assignment football" but that is not entirely true. If you do that, Johnson has a dozen counters for each and can keep moving the chains all day. To really set them back you need to win in the trenches and disrupt the whole play.
2. Use the run sparingly. I loved throwing to the backs last week and moving Williams into a receiver slot. Do more of that this week and only run the ball to keep them honest. Lots of draws like we did against Florida State.
3. Don't rush Chase. I think the whole "get rid of it after 3 seconds" idea didn't really help Rettig. He's at his best when he is buying time in the pocket and something opens up downfield. The potential sack is worth it in return for the big play.

Gambling Notes
-- Spaz is now 0-5 against the spread this year
-- Spaz is 1-8 on the road in October
-- Paul Johnson is 21-8 at home while coach of Georgia Tech
The current line is BC+14

The home team has lost five straight in this series. This even predates the ACC clashes. The most improbable win was in TOB's second year. George O'Leary was Tech's coach and they were in the middle of a very good run.

Scoreboard Watching
Could Maryland be good? Is this the year TOB finally gets his team to the ACCCG? I don't know. Something will give when the two teams faceoff this weekend.

I hope to see...
A win. That sounds simple, but the past two losses have been brutal for different reasons. The players looked dejected and if you follow any of them on twitter, they sound beaten down. I don't think a win will change the course of the season, but it might lift some spirits.

BC is in trouble if...
Georgia Tech passes on us. I am still amazed by how aggressive Army was in their passing game against us. What did they see? What did they know? If we haven't corrected the issue, Georgia Tech is going to kill us through the air.

Bottom Line
This is a terrible matchup for us when things are going well. It is even worse now. I don't expect us to have any answers for their offense. That leaves us in a shootout again. Tech is regrouping defensively, but I can't take much solace in that as we've regressed too. I think we will slow them down in the redzone but won't do enough to keep pace. They pull away in the second half.
Final Score: Georgia Tech 30, BC 17

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sharing Donahue's optimism

The coaches predicted a last place finish for BC basketball. So did the media. Maybe I am missing something, but I agree with Steve Donahue. I think we will be a good basketball team. Not best in the conference and probably not a bubble team, but competitive. We won't finish 12th in the ACC. Here is why I am in a "half full" mood:

Returning talent
Donahue is bringing back 75% of his offense and most of his minutes. The only significant contributor he has to replace is Humphrey. Even though last year's team wasn't good, the natural progression should pay off. Historically when big BC recruiting classes mature, there is a nice bump in Year 2. The Bill Curley class improved by six wins in their second year and finished above .500. The Antonio Granger/Woodward class (even without Herren) improved by 10 wins in their sophomore year and made the tournament. The Rakim Sanders/Raji class improved by eight wins and made the tournament. Of course those improvements were also impacted by other players who were not part of the super-sized classes, but the point remains. Natural maturity will pay dividends this year.

Improvement on the road
BC was 8-9 at home. 4-4 in ACC homes games. Yet we didn't win one road game all year. I doubt that will happen again. Especially when you factor in some of the close losses. Maturity will be a big factor as will dumb luck.

The second year in Donahue's system
I think Donahue is a very good Xs and Os guy and a good teacher. But I felt at times he was over managing the games. The players didn't think for themselves or find the natural rhythms of the offense. But that was to be expected. He was teaching all of them the offense. There wasn't any holdover who could help the players while on the floor. This year they will have more experience and push the tempo more...sort of like Donahue's first season.

The new guys and a healthy Heckmann
While not as highly touted as some other ACC freshmen, Rahon and Hanlan will contribute early. Heckmann had some great moments last year but a variety of health and playing issues made him a non-factor down the stretch. If he is healthy and focused, he will more than make up for the missing Humphrey.

3, 3, 3, 3...
We will shoot and make more 3s this year. It will surely cost us a game when we go ice cold, but I expect it will help us steal and surprise some teams too.

Please let it be better
Some of my optimism is just playing the odds. Some of this is buying into what Donahue is selling. But I admit, I also just want it to be better. Football season has been so painful, we need some non-Jerry York generated excitement around the Heights. I think these guys will do it even if the rest of the ACC doesn't.

Men's soccer loses and other links

The Men's soccer team lost to a ranked Brown team when they allowed a late goal in the 87th minute. This lowered their record to 7-4-3.

BCI suggests that we pair up with Minnesota to fill our 2013 schedule holes. I like the idea of playing Minnesota but doubt we will make any decision until the new coach is hired.

HD posted her midseason report on all the teams including our own. She pointed out all the issues but was not particularly critical of how Spaz has managed the team.

Here is a good preview of the Georgia Tech matchup from Soaring to Glory.

This is from last week, but our Associate AD Eric Ziady got promoted to the head job at Delaware.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I've seen the future of BC start times and it is 11 AM kickoffs

BC and Maryland will play at 1 PM and the game will be available online via ESPN3. While few seem to like the internet broadcasts, everyone raves about the 1 PM kickoff. I guess it is the perfect timeslot for tailgating, getting to the game and still having time left on your Saturday. For all those fans of the 1 PMers, I have a warning: don't get used to it. With the changing TV landscape I don't see many 1 PM starts in our future.

Did anyone watching Louisville-Pitt this week? ESPN2 showed the game nationally and it started at 11 AM Eastern. This makes a lot of sense for ESPN. It provides live football action opposite GameDay and allows for staggered starts across all their networks. Just like the Friday night timeslots, the 11 AM is becoming more popular with teams as it allows for national exposure and more money. The success of the broadcast means ESPN is just going to add more and more games on ESPN 2 at 11. In fact, I predict ESPN will have a full season of 11 AM Saturday kickoffs within the next three years. But the 11 AM poses a unique scheduling challenge. Realisticly the only teams that can really start that early must be in the Eastern Time Zone. That means some MAC, some Big Ten, some SEC, some Big East and all the ACC. Now the Big Ten and SEC will probably avoid the 11 AMers in the near future. Aside from the Central Time Zone challenges facing half their teams, both have more desirable time slots either on their own network or on ESPN's family of networks. The MAC will do it (just look at their embrace of Wednesday games) but they don't provide the cache that ESPN wants. The Big East is ESPN's logical partner for the 11 AM games, but there is a problem. First the expanded Big East is going to have many teams outside the East. Second, there is still a very good chance the the Big East might sign a TV deal with another network. 

Where do you think ESPN will turn if the Big East is gone and none of their other premium partners agree to start their games that early? The ACC will get the first pitch from Bristol. Pitt and Syracuse are willing participants now. Don't you think they will be in the future. BC is contractually obligated to play on Friday nights in the new TV deal. It is not a stretch to think we will also agree to an 11 AM start if it meant national TV. ESPN3 has been a great resource for fans, but public perception and among recruits, it still feels like minor leagues. Having a game on ESPN 2 nationally -- even with an odd start -- is preferred by coaches and TV execs. 

I am o nboard for the early starts but I watch most games on TV and I am rarely in Boston for a tailgate. I hope if ESPN comes calling for ACC Guinea Pigs BC leverages the opportunity to try new things. Maybe have a shortened pregame tailgate for extended post game tailgating. That might fill the stands. But BC should view it as a promotional opportunity because it is not going away. 

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Florida State

Numb. That's how I feel at this point. It makes watching the games back a little easier. Actually I feel bad for some players. Some are playing hard and some who have struggled recently played well. Too bad good efforts were wasted in such a lopsided game.

Offense: F

I will defend Chase Rettig day and night, but this was not a good game. I don't know what went wrong. Where at times this season he has held too long or forced things, this week he wasn't even trying to make difficult throws. He had multiple passes that he just hurled away. Maybe the idea of getting rid of it early was drilled into him. Maybe he's frustrated. I don't know but it wasn't the Chase we've seen this year. When he did settle down, he made some nice throws. The TD to Swigert had nice touch and he put a couple into tight places with Amidon. But overall it was his worst game of the season. His decision making was off, his timing was off, he didn't work his reads like he did earlier. Hopefully he puts it behind him. Bordner got multiple series for the first time this year, but there was nothing definitive about his play.

We really only played two running backs and both were decent. Williams was good in the draws and delays. The WRs pulled many guys away from the line so there was space. I was frustrated with his inability to push it in on the goaline, but I will get to that in the play calling. Dudeck also looked pretty good. He's not a game changer, but he's got good hands and seems to be improving week to week. McCaffery got some carries in garbage time.

It is nice to have Swigert back. He made some tough catches and took some big hits. I think he would have made a difference in the beginning of the year. Amidon wasn't targeted as much but still made some good catches. Evans had one catch and so did Coleman. Neither made much of them. Pantale, Larmond, Parson  and others played but were not involved in the action.

The offensive line as a whole did not play well. But Vardaro -- who I've been rough on -- did. He moved and pulled much better and held his blocks. Cleary got called for holding and had some trouble with their speed. Wetzel was all called for holding. White got blown up a few times. Gallik wasn't good, but when he missed series and we shifted White and brought in Betancourt, things really looked bad.

I didn't like the game Martin called. After the first possession we never got in rhythm. We only had a few counters (like Swigert out of the backfield) and couldn't sustain anything. There were a few things I liked -- Williams motioning out to a WR slot. A lot of draws in space. Trying to move the pocket. I didn't like other things. The toss plays?! The goaline series. How can you leave their best player unblocked. I know it is a read and the goal is to get the pass off, but can't we adjust the play so that you are exploiting one of their weak links instead of an All America DE?

Defense: F

The defensive line is where this team really starts to crumble. I know they were short handed, but they missed tons of tackles and couldn't get even the slightest pressure on Manuel. Borchich was the unblocked guy on a lot of their option stuff, but was a step too slow to make many plays. Murray, Ricci and Quinn (who did play in the second half) got pushed around. Rudolph played hard but missed tackles. Moore made some nice plays but I wish we didn't burn his redshirt midway through the season. Edebali once again plays hard. He never gives up on plays. I just don't know why that same motor cannot create more havoc in the other team's backfield.

Divitto is another guy who had his best game in a while. He didn't miss as many tackles and was pretty good in coverage. Joy played well too when Divitto missed some time. KPL is another guy who played hard and didn't miss many tackles. You could see his frustration. Clancy had a rough game. He missed a lot of tackles and was pushed around a lot.

I don't know what is wrong with Noel and Asprilla. Many of the big plays happened in their areas. All the DBs had coverage breakdowns. I cannot remember the last time I saw so many opponents run free. This is where I think the talent argument is negated. Talent wise I would put Noel and Asprilla in the middle of the pack as far as BC DBs of the last decade. Yet their less talented predecessors never made that many glaring mistakes in one game. At times Noel and Asprilla both showed their talent in this game. But that didn't make up for the glaring issues. Simmons got extensive time at Safety and actually looked good.  Bryce Jones also looked good. Richardson played a little and didn't make an impact. Sylvia was at corner again and played well.

We were down four TDs before we starting mixing things up with zone pressure or dropping eight. Why? Are we that much in fear of Florida State that we were only going to play way off? Do we think that much of Manuel as a QB that we didn't try to confuse him or disguise things early? It was a ultra conservative gameplan and we still got killed. I don't know who has true ownership of our defense, but it is clear that two heads are not better than one.  Somebody's got to do something.

Special Teams: C
Levano -- who has not been good lately -- had a decent game. He got his punts off and while not all were beauties, they were much better and helped change field position.

Spiffy had solid returns all day. Elliot had one bad one where the ball knuckled and stopped in bounds on the  two yard line. Those sort of things seem to happen when the game is falling apart.

Overall: F

Forget about the breakdowns or the talent difference. Forget about Rettig having an off day or all the missed tackles. Our coaching staff gave up. We came out in the second half and didn't try anything new. A little blitzing in the third quarter and a few more draws is not going to change the course of a game. And our pace showed the whole stadium we had no urgency to erase the huge halftime deficit. Of course the odds that a 1-4 team was not going on the road to erase the biggest deficit in BC history against a top 10 team. No one expected that. But you would hope Spaz would do something to even try to alter the course of the game.

Once again we were unprepared and executed like a Pop Warner team. That's on the Head Coach. There is part of me that still believes this team has talent. I no longer believe Spaz can do anything with it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blog fighting (nothing to see here)

(Eds note: this is all self-serving blogger stuff that I try to avoid. If you don't care, feel free to skip this post.)

Blauds wrote this Sunday. He's written about me before, but I've just ignored it. I don't think two writers going back and forth is all that entertaining or informative. However, in this case it starts to creep into the personal and the logic is so flawed, I thought I should responded. His post is sort of all over the place, so let me take on his main points one by one.

1. "Get a credential"

I've been getting credentialed for BC events for nearly 18 years. The reason I am not a regular in the BC press box is more about geography rather than willingness to face the subjects I write about. I covered all the teams for WZBC in the 1990s and have been blogging about BC since 2005. I've been credentialed for away games and bowl games throughout the southeast. I've covered some of the same events Blauds has as a member of the media. I took this picture. Notice the guy to Purvis' right?
I will be credentialed this Saturday. But not so I can "introduce myself to Spaz and tell him what I think." I've met Spaz twice. Once when I was a student and once after the Champs Bowl. Could he put my face to this blog? Doubtful. He didn't seem to care at the time. But why would I go up to him after the game and say: "You are failing. You need to be fired!" Does any member of the media do that? Does any member of the BC community do that? I do not take calling for anyone's job lightly. Despite my extreme doubts about Spaz's capabilities as a Head Coach, I didn't call for him to be fired until last season. But Spaz is a public figure with a public job that is covered by media and debated by fans. People writing, talking and speculating about his job comes with the territory. He knows this and is paid handsomely for it. And if Blauds or he ever feel sorry for him, they only need to look at the scrutiny other Boston sports figures face (Bobby V anyone?) and other college coaches face in other parts of the country. Gene Chizik won a National Championship two years ago and now fans are attacking his wife on Facebook. In the whole scheme of things Spaz gets off easy.

But regardless of the fairness or appropriateness of me calling for a change, Blauds implies that I don't back up my words or statements. One of the reasons I have been open about my identity from the very beginning was the personal belief that having my name attached to everything I post would be the best filter for what I write and how I approach my subjects. Even with that I have made hundreds of mistakes and have dozens of posts that I wish I had never written. But I haven't deleted them. I have apologized. But this is my blog and these are my words.

Even when I was a student and going to Dan Henning's press conferences and flying on the team charter as part of the WZBC crew, I said Henning should be fired. We all did. But not to his face. That's not cowardly. It is just how things are done and Blauds knows this. We had a forum (radio) and we covered and discussed BC. But during our broadcasts we also offered our opinion. And at the time we said Henning should be fired. Now I have a different forum (this blog). I provide news and opinion and it is my opinion that Spaz should be fired. And if I happen to meet Brad Bates this weekend and he asks my opinion, I will share with him what I have already written.

2. "A HEALTHY roster of players that Spaziani recruited is not that a bad a team."

I agree with Blauds on this point. He sees it as a defense. I see it as an indictment of Spaz's tenure and record. This BC team is not as talented as some of our best but it is not as bad as some say. I believe a different coach and different staff could be getting more out of them. Regardless of health, Florida State WRs were running free through zones on Saturday. Yet players were missing assignments or getting caught out of position. Are guys trying to do too much? Are they not paying attention? Did they stop caring? No one knows, but you cannot get rid of 85 players at once. You can change the head coach. This team is underachieving by every measure. If Blauds thinks this is a six or seven win roster, then how can he come to the conclusion that Spaz is getting the most out of what he has? Every team has injuries and it costs them a game or two. Not five.

3. Firing Spaz now accomplishes nothing.

I paraphased that point, because I need this blockquote to capture all of the logic misteps Blauds made here:

"Give BC a head start on finding a new coach? Are you kidding me.

Do you actually believe that Bates is not looking and checking names and availability right now?

Do you not think that when the regular season ends a decision will be made and made quickly.

Fire Spaz now will give a boost to the players on the team? Really. I talk to players on that team. I see them on the practice field. I see them walking around campus. They are mad as hell. But changing coaches, put in someone like Doug Martin in on an interim level. Again that will accomplish? Maybe that is done at places where football is more important than going to school or playing by the rules. But at BC?"

I do believe that Bates is already considering names and I do believe he will have a quick process once he moves forward. But Blauds is either forgetting or ignoring recent college football history if he thinks firing a coach early and moving on in the process early doesn't have its advantages. The last two schools to hire Urban Meyer did so in season and after they got a head start on the process. Now I don't think BC is going to bring in the next Urban Meyer, but for the sake of a simple and credible strawman to help Blauds see the light, let's say Bates has an eye for BC grad and Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. If Spaz is no longer BC's head coach and if Carmichael wants the job, hiring him early allows Carmichael to build his staff, contact recruits and get planning on rebuilding BC. I know something that aggressive and progressive won't happen, but firing Spaz does declare to the football world: "this job is open and available." Bates will hear from dozens of potential candidates. Starting to sort through the process now is not a bad thing.

As for the players at this point they deserve better. They deserve someone who believes in them and will do everything he can to win these games. I don't go to practice (once again, geography) but you don't need to live in Cleveland Circle to judge the mood of the players and the team. Just look at social media or what player parents are writing on the blogs and message boards. Putting Martin or McGovern in charge for the rest of the season changes the mood. It won't change the team dramatically or wipe away their flaws overnight, but it is one of the only options BC has. It has nothing to do with going to class or playing by the rules.

Because this has already gone on long enough...

I don't know why Blauds decided to call me out now. Maybe because among the hundreds of anonymous BC fans on message boards and blogs, I am one of the few with a clear name to attach to my argument. It doesn't matter. I stand by what I say. I've been wrong before and will be wrong again. But this time I am confident in my opinion. BC football and its players would be better off if Bates fired Spaz midseason. Their careers on finite. Most of them only have a few games left and want to win. As I've said, they deserve better. They always have.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spaz is pathetic and Bates shouldn't wait to fire him

What did Spaz say to his players and coaches at half? "That's enough." "Nice 30 minutes, now let's hurry up and get out of here." That was a waiving of the white flag if I've ever seen one. We showed a little fight towards the end of the first half, but Rettig got picked and that seemed to be the end of it. We don't have the same talent as Florida State, but most of our early mistakes were breakdowns. These guys either aren't being coached well anymore or have stopped listening. Either way, it makes for some painful viewing.

Just some notes:

  • This is the fourth time that Spaz's teams have failed to score double digits. 
  • This is the 15th time in 44 games that Spaz's teams have scored 14 points or less. 
  • Spaz is now 0-5 against the spread. 
  • This is the fourth time a Spaz team has lost by 21 or more. 

I was of the belief that BC should not fire Spaz midseason. I felt he deserves these losses on his record and the change won't benefit BC much. Tonight's disaster changed my mind. Why keep him? He is just doing further damage to the players' psyches and burning redshirts. Fire him now and get a jump start on the search and give the players a little signal that things can and will get better.

I'll have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Florida State

Reading the team play the "disrespect" angle all week has me a little uneasy. We just lost to Army. No one should respect at this point. I would have preferred if the guys had just said bland things and came out firing today. Either way, I hope they are motivated and prepared. Florida State is going to want a decisive victory to make up for their loss to NC State. I just want a hard fought game. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Game Watches: Florida State

Strength in numbers! That's what you need to tell yourself. Go watch the game with other BC fans and if it becomes a Florida State beatdown, you will be able to commiserate with other like-minded Eagle fans. If your chapter is having a watch and I didn't list it, send me an email or post it in the comments.

Boston Game Watch 
Jerry Remy's Seaport
250 Northern Avenue

Chicago Game Watch
Tripoli Tap
1147 West Armitage Avenue

Dallas Game Watch 
Christies Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Avenue

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree (on 3rd Avenue btw 34th and 35th Streets)

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street Phoenix

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's in San Francisco
2064 Polk Street (corner of Polk and Broadway)
San Francisco

Washington, DC Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House (formerly Porter's)
1207 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC

Perspective from an older BC fan

As the season has fallen apart, I am disheartened by the notion put forth by some BC fans that "we'll never be good again." I would say it is more common in younger fans whose connection to BC football only goes back to the TOB days. As a student during the Henning era I know that BC can rebuild from anything. But even my perspective only captures one down time, so I thought I would call on the wisdom of an older BC fan. "Dr. Jack Ryan" is a message board poster, a BC grad and has been attending games at Alumni since the 1970s. When he perfectly shot down a whiner on the Eagle Outsider message boards earlier this week, I thought it was time for him to share his perspective with a different audience. Here is his take on our past, present and future. Pay attention all you kids in the yellow shirts.

As a somewhat older fan, nothing gets me angrier than these (mostly younger) fans who think that the sky is falling.

I have actually heard some fans claim that things “have never been worse”.

Never been worse?! Hello! McFly! (A reference probably lost on these Chicken Littles).

In 1978—a season I remember—Boston College was the worst college football team in America. The worst. We went 0-11 and lost to Army, Tulane, Villanova, Temple, UMASS and Holy Cross. So not only did BC lose that year, it lost bad. It didn’t just play three FCS teams (then in its first year of existence, called “1-AA” at the time) it lost to three FCS teams! And of those three teams they lost to, Villanova was soon to disband its entire program due to lack of fan support and on the field success.

And yet…

Two years later, my Dad is dragging me to the Norwood-Natick game. Why? Because he heard that BC had an interest in the diminutive QB for Natick who was tearing up the Bay State league.

Four years after that Norwood-Natick game, BC had the Heisman trophy winner under center and was headed to the Cotton Bowl. Not only that, had they beaten either West Virginia (lost by 1) or Penn State (lost by 7) they would have played in a defacto National Title game against #1 BYU in the Holiday Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

And won.

When Bill asked me to write about a long-term view of BC football, it made me think about a concept that I learned while studying for my MBA at the Carroll school.

If you were lucky enough to study at the Carroll school and lucky enough to study under Bob Taggard like I did, you are going to learn a little bit about something called “beta.” (Ok, technically you probably will learn about beta under any Finance professor, but saying that eliminates an opportunity for me to name-drop). A high-beta stock is one with very high volatility. The price of a high-beta stock fluctuates –hitting some high highs over time, but also some low lows. Many technology companies can be classified as having a high beta. On the other hand, a low-beta stock is one with very low volatility. The returns and price are fairly stable. Solid, but nothing spectacular. Think: utility company.

For the first 30 years of my life, Boston College was a high-beta stock. People whose memory of BC football starts with Tom O’Brien and who grew tired with his consistent above-average performance have to remember that for many of us the up-and-down performances of the 70s, 80s and 90s is how we best understand the program.

The important thing to remember is how resilient the BC program is even when things seem the lowest. And even more importantly, remember that at some level the fluctuation of the team seemed almost (stress almost) independent of the leadership. Ed Chelbek -- the coach who gave us that 0-11 season -- was actually retained and had the team finish 7-4 in 1980. Jack Bicknell, he of the 10-2 Cotton Bowl season, had a putrid 2-9 season in 1989. And at the very top? Bill Flynn. Athletic director from 1957 to 1990, which encompassed both the best and worst seasons in my living memory.

And one more point. It isn’t just Boston College that experiences these ups and downs. When I was in college, the University of Washington and the University of Colorado won shares of the National title in 1990 and 1991. By 2004, UW was 0-12 while this season the Buffs are 1-4 and not looking at many more “W”s in the schedule.

And so in closing, just remember that Boston College football has been around for a long time and has been resilient for a long time. Coaches, Athletic Directors and University Presidents come and go, but BC football remains.

So for all you young punks who are going to bitch and moan about either Frank Spaziani or Bill Bates or Fr. Leahy or the general state of Boston College athletics I have one thing to say to you:

Get off my lawn, you God-damn LeBron James-eque frontrunners!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Blogger: Chant Rant

When you are losing the grass always seems greener. But in this week both fanbases are questioning their direction. To get a better feel for FSU's mindset and what to expect this game, I asked Rich from Chant Rant a few questions. His answers are below.

1. I was surprised to see Florida State struggle to score against NC State. Then afterword there seemed to be some speculation that Fisher doesn't trust Manuel to fully run the offense. Was Saturday a one-time setback or a sign of bigger problems to come offensively?

Chant Rant: The loss to N.C. State was a huge disappointment and an even bigger wake-up call: It signals that the Seminole program which we all thought was on the verge of being nationally relevant again, is still plagued by inconsistency and question marks. Jimbo Fisher had us all believing that 2012 would be the culmination of the strong momentum underway since he took over from Bobby Bowden. The guy has recruited as well as anyone in the country, while installing a top to bottom process patterned after the one his former boss, Nick Saban, created.

But two things in particular have Nole fans scratching their noggins. Despite beating both of FSU's hated in-state rivals, the gators and Hurricanes, two years running, Fisher seems doomed to lose a couple games per year to teams he should beat nine times out of ten. And HOW he loses them is a growing sore spot. Jimbo, who continues to call every play though he has an offensive coordinator, goes conservative when a close game is on the line. It backfired big time against N.C. State. Ahead 16-0 at the half, the Noles offense couldn't hold off the Pack at the end. It didn't help that QB EJ Manuel had a lousy night, missing open receivers and losing yardage on option plays (partly due to his supporting cast, of course).

So to finally answer your question: Fisher had BETTER trust Manuel. He discovered, recruited and has groomed the fifth year senior, confident EJ would be the key to the Seminoles' resurgence. At this point I believe Jimbo is too stubborn to play backup Clint Trickett, even for a few series (fans are divided on which one should start). Unless Manuel is carried off the field, Fisher will live and die with his talented but inconsistent signal caller.

2. The media seems obsessed with Florida State being back. At this point do the average Nole fans care? How do FSU fans measure if things are really "back"?

Chant Rant: Nole fans care intensely, probably to a fault. Which is why the loss to N.C. State is such a bummer -- a huge step backwards on the road to being back. Back to what? Back to national prominence. Being a yearly favorite to win the ACC Championship. Finishing in the top ten. And being in the mix for a national title at least a few times in every decade.

If that sounds like fans who might be a bit spoiled -- yeah, you're probably right. But once you've tasted success like the long run of top five finishes under Bowden, it just becomes a craving that nothing else will satisfy.

3. We may be in position to hire a new head coach. One of the names that has floated in the past is Mark Stoops. What is your opinion of Stoops as a potential Head Coach and what sort of recruiter is he?

Chant Rant: A fiery coach on the sidelines, Stoops is pretty quiet off the field. That's true in part because under Jimbo, assistant coaches have very little media access. I'd bet it's also because Mark is the youngest of the Stoops coaching brothers, and probably, uh, shall we say, deferred to Bob and Mike when he was a kid. I don't hear much about his involvement with recruiting, but he apparently holds his own on a staff full of strong recruiters.

I guess the answer is, nobody really knows how he would do as a head coach. But one thing is for sure: Mark would have a unique value-added advantage. What other coach could call upon two unpaid consultants -- that just happen to be family members and respected coaches in their own right -- whenever he needs them?

4. What is your prediction for the game?

Chant Rant: Based upon what we're hearing from correspondents and other insiders, the team is shaking off its hangover from Saturday night and doing a good job of refocusing on the remainder of the season. Don't know what Vegas is predicting, but my guess is FSU by 14 to 17 points. Whatever the final score, it oughta be a fun game -- warm and dry, no rain in the forecast -- with the football in the air throughout. Unless, that is, Fisher decides to go into his conservative shell again. If that happens, all bets are off.

BC-Florida State preview

Both BC and Florida State are coming off of devastating losses although for very different reasons. Our loss felt like rock bottom. Their loss was more about a bubble bursting once again. Their return to the elite is delayed another year.This game is about how each side responds to their disappointment?

Hot Seat Thermometer
Things can't get any hotter for Spaz. Parents are taking to the internet to call out the coaches. He's getting testy with the media and he's got a new boss. Bates has said he doesn't believe in midseason firings, but if things continue to deteriorate Spaz may force Bates' hand. I think BC gains very little by firing him now, but if the players go to Bates about it, BC may need to take action.
Temperature: Death Valley in a heat wave

Overlooked Storyline: BC actually plays well in Talahasse
We won on our first two trips to Doak Campbell and nearly pulled off an upset the third time. Maybe the atmosphere or the idea of being an underdog on the road inspires BC players. Based on what the guys are saying to the media on Twitter, I think they are pretty confident going into this game.

Three Simple Keys
1. Use the pass to establish the run. Last week's rushing stats were misleading. A couple of big runs didn't mean we had any consistency. We are at our best when passing. Let's start out with our strength and turn to Andre Williams only as a change of pace.
2. Contain Manuel. We now face the best running QB of our season and we've yet to stop even mediocre talent. We need to keep him in the pocket and potentially spy him most of the game.
3. Get more people involved in the passing game. Rettig is a decent distributor but we've still been very reliant on Amidon. I would like to see more balls thrown to Swigert, Larmond and the Tight Ends.

Gambling Notes
-- Spaz is 7-11 on the road
-- This is the largest point spread of the Spaz era
-- Jimbo Fisher is 5-3 after a loss
The current line is BC+27.5

This is the second of three straight road games. BC hasn't played three straight away games since 2002.

Scoreboard Watching
The ACC slate is thin this week. I will be paying attention to Duke-Virginia Tech. Our offensive approach to the Hokies will be very similar to the one the Blue Devils will use this weekend.

I hope to see...
The players hang tough the whole game. With the mutiny whispers around the program, I fear that if this game gets out of hand, the guys could throw in the towel. That would be bad news for many reasons.

BC is in trouble if...
We turn the ball over. We need to play perfectly to beat FSU. Turnovers will be nearly insurmountable.

Bottom Line
After last week I can't rationalize a BC pick. If Spaz has his guys unprepared to face the worst team on the schedule, how can we expect more when facing the best? Last week was also a text book example of Spaz managing the game away. I think we will put up points but I don't trust our defense to hold them. We will keep it within the point spread and that will feel like victory for our embattled coach.
Final Prediction: FSU 42, BC 28

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who should the basketball team play out of conference?

One of the minor controversies to come out of the Basketball team's media day was the break in our series with UMass. As Donahue explained, there is only so much room on our schedule and there wasn't much demand. I actually agree with him and would place UMass relatively low on our non-conference slate. The NCAA limits basketball teams to 27 to 29 regular season games (depending on the number of games in their preseason tournaments). With the preseason tournaments, schedules are designed to max out at 31 games. The ACC has 18 regular season games. We also will play in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge most years. A preseason tournament also account for three games. That leaves BC with between five and seven non-conference games a year. There is not that much room. With those factors, this is how I would rank in importance our non-conference foes.

1. Providence. Long running rival. Close game. Playing a Big East team helps our RPI.
2. Holy Cross. Another long-time rival. Our athletic history is so muddled at this point, I think it is important to play Holy Cross in at least one sport that means a lot to both schools.
3. One game against a team from a BCS conference. Even with the Big Ten game and the Providence game, we will always need a game against a major program to help our ratings. This year's example is Auburn. In most years I would prefer a West Coast team so that our fans in California could see the team in person.
4. Harvard, BU or Northeastern. I think a Basketball Beanpot is a little premature, but we should play at least one of these teams annually. Ideally we would rotate through them on a three year basis. Proximity and travel cost alone justify these teams. In most years we will win.
5. One game in the New York area. As you saw from the Army game, our fans in the Tri-State area will come out to support the team if they are close. Ideally this would be a Big East team, but I understand if playing two Big East teams annually would be too much. Fordham, Army, Fairfield, Manhattan, and Hofstra all jump out as good targets for short series.
6. UMass. There is history and in most years they will be a respectable opponent. But now that we are playing them in football, I don't think it is as important to play them in hoops annually.
7. Other New England schools. On years where we have openings, we should look regionally. It makes sense financially and athletically. Byrant, UNH and Dartmouth are perfect examples from this year's schedule.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Welcome to BC. Now get to work

One of the reasons I liked the Bates hire is that he's experienced in ways the other finalists weren't. These AD jobs are highly political. You have to deal with donors, administrators, coaches and your fellow ADs. Everyone's got an angle and an agenda. A guy new to this type of role or this many players might have been overwhelmed. Bates looks like he will be fine in that department. The parallels between the Miami community's reaction and are reaction to Gene's departure are noted, but after ten years, even the most loyal of fans will want some new blood and new ideas. On a whole you cannot question the success of Bates's tenure at Miami. I am not worried about what he did or didn't do at Miami. My concern is what he plans to accomplish at BC. Much of Bates' agenda will be determined by pressing needs and BC's overriding plans for the University, but with that in mind, I offer my advice to Mr. Bates.

  • You are not hiring a football coach for Miami of Ohio. You are hiring a football coach for Boston College. I understand all the niceties to the media, but Frank Spaziani will not be coaching BC Football next fall. Because of timing, BC will be one of the better jobs available this offseason. We do not have to settle for anyone or take a flyer on an up and comer. You can make your pick of several exciting and sought after candidates. I don't know what preliminary budget BC has given you for the hire, but even if we pay in the bottom half of the conference, we will still have great possibilities. Our last two football searches were all about prior relationships with your predecessor  Don't make that same mistake. Find the best person for this job.
  • Don't accept "but that's how we've always done it" as an answer from your staffers, BC leadership or employees. One of the things I appreciate about Bates is that he is not a boat rocker and seems to be a consensus builder. That's also a nice change from recent past, but that doesn't mean Bates shouldn't challenge current lines of thought. I am glad BC went for someone from outside our community. All aspects of the Athletic Department need to be evaluated. In his speech he mentioned game day experiences and marketing. But I also think how we deal with media, how we deal with Newton and the surrounding communities and how we operate within the ACC need to be improved or changed. 
  • Get ready to raise lots of money and spend a lot of time looking a blueprints. I know there are many factors in play, but it is embarrassing that the baseball field hasn't broken ground. People look at Alumni and Conte and talk about seating configuration or air conditioning. Those issues are minor. Both buildings have long overdue basic maintenance investments. The Plex is a joke. Plus we need a practice  facility. Based on the Athletic Capital campaigns announced at other private schools, these projects are going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and require careful planning. For example the Plex cannot come down until its replacement is up. Instead of renovating Alumni/Conte do we tear down and rebuild on the same footprint (with a new indoor football practice facility and second hockey rink)? Those ideas have been discussed. Now they need action. 
  • Ask what sports we need to play. Every team has its supporters, but how long can BC sustain its current mix of teams? For all those Lacrosse lovers, I don't think it will ever return. In fact it is more likely other sports will join Lax in the used to have a team category. I think Gene was happy to put those issues on the backburner, but budget wise and scholarship wise it needs to be considered. 
  • Have fun. One thing that wasn't mentioned today but needs to be remembered, is that beyond our academic mission or promoting the school, sports are supposed to be fun. Aside from a moment here or there, BC sports have not been fun in the past few years. Winning will help, but how we approach the games, celebrate the big and little moments and embrace each other all contributes to the level of fun around the program. If you want to change that, it starts with you. Be thankful that you are working at one of the best athletic programs in the country and at one of the best schools in the country. There are tens of thousands of people who love BC and want you to succeed. Engage those people, entertain those people, and keep those people in mind as you make decisions. When things are good at BC, they are really good. Help rekindle that and we'll be forever thankful.

Brad Bates

BC could have gone in many directions in hiring a new Athletic Director. They went the safe and sound route in hiring Brad Bates. And given where we are and what lies ahead, I have no problem with the Bates hire. Is he going to change BC in dramatic ways? I don't think so, but his experience and track record leave me to believe that he is competent enough to lead Boston College through some tough decisions and major projects over the next few years.

Bates comes to BC after a decade at Miami of Ohio. Of all the rumored finalists, that alone made him the most qualified. Miami isn't a BCS level program but they have major football, basketball and hockey and have academic standards higher than most of their fellow MAC programs. Bates has hired many coaches over the years (both good and bad) and BC will benefit from that experience.

BC will present new challenges for Bates. He'll have to evaluate football quickly, repair relationships with certain alumni, evaluate our facilities and then lead a major fund raising effort to cover all of BC's current and future athletic needs.

I am optimistic about Bates' future. I also trust in Father Leahy's process. His record of major hires is very good. He decides what he wants in a candidate and the methodically finds the right person. It is not on other's timeline. It is on his and BC's timeline.

I will have more on Bates today and in the coming days. I will also pull back the curtain a bit to let you know how we got here and where all the different speculation came into play.

Welcome Brad and Ever to Excel.

Watch the Bates Press Conference

Here is the link. It starts at 1:30 PM ET. I will have my thoughts on the hire after.

Real news and more rumors

Before I get to more AD speculation, this is some real news. BC will wear the following uniform October 27 vs Maryland. It is part of BC and Under Armour's efforts to support the Wounded Warrior project. Going back to what I wrote last week, if BC feels the need to depart from our normal uniform, I would like to see something like this: one off, with a purpose.  The players seem to like the idea too.

BC will play Georgia Tech at 3 pm on regional sports networks. 

Finally BC will have a press conference at 1:30 on Tuesday. No subject was given but you have to assume it is to introduce the new AD. Speculation is rampant that it is Boo Corrigan or Quentin Williams. At this point I won't say much about either until I know things are official.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The latest on Boo Corrigan and AD search

I know some of you purposely avoid the message board chatter, but I thought the Boo Corrigan news and gossip merited its own post. Over the weekend, a very reliable and consistently accurate BC message board poster "BC West" posted on Eagle Action and Eagle Outsider that BC is in final negotiations with Boo Corrigan. He said that if the sides cannot come to agreement that BC will then move on to Xavier AD Mike Bobinski. BC will announce the new hire within a matter of days.

Corrigan was one of BC's first targets and came with a strong endorsement from John Swofford. However, he did initially rebuff BC. He felt that it was too soon into his Army tenure and he wasn't looking to make a move. Army offered more money, so he waffled. But BC kept the dialogue going and Corrigan became more interested.

If this comes together and Corrigan is the new AD, I will consider the process a success. BC made a major change right before the start of the school year and landed a solid replacement for Gene in less than six weeks. As for Corrigan as the new leader, I will post a full assessment when things are official.