Sunday, July 31, 2016

Early look at the early Bowl Projections

Many are predicting a bounce back year for BC. The schedule is easy. The ACC media picked them fifth in the division. A lot of national rankings have them in the 60 to 70 range. If they get to 6-6, there should be a bowl game in their future. Yet not all of the early Bowl Projections see it that way. SBNation left out BC. They have 10 ACC teams plus Notre Dame in the postseason. But no BC.

Athlon is more optimistic. They have BC playing in the Military Bowl...against Temple. I know I just wrote about the pointlessness of playing Temple, but in this case I wouldn't mind. You can't really control who your bowl opponent is. Plus I think playing a winnable game in a relatively close city is not a bad way to end the season. The Military Bowl is not exciting your recruits and fans, but one more win does. Addazio lost his previous two BC bowls against name schools. Where did that get us? Might as well get a win.

There will be plenty of Bowl projections to come as we approach the season. It makes for great filler. It also gives us a barometer of how outsiders view BC right now. Let's hope we can exceed expectations.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Addazio talks 5th years again

Addazio freely admits he made a mistake not bringing in a 5th year QB last year, but now he is opening up even more. This time with a Virginia paper. As assumed, Addazio did not take a QB last year out of fear of how it would hurt his recruiting and reputation:
"You didn’t want to get a reputation for not having faith [in the guys you have],” Addazio said. “No matter how you cut these things, they get sensitive.”

So with sophomore Darius Wade set to take over in 2015, Addazio opted against seeking outside depth.

“I closed my mind to it and said, ‘OK, it’s Darius’ deal. I want to develop a young guy,’” Addazio said. “I didn’t want to keep bringing fifth-year guys in here. I did it once with Murphy. I didn’t want to do it again. “You know, in hindsight — almost like, duh — it didn’t pan out.”

At least he learned. Yet I still can't believe a guy who has been around so long made such a mistake. You know what's worse than a reputation for bringing in 5th years? Losing. Losing big and going winless in conference play. That hurts your reputation. How about wasting one of the best defenses in college football? Does that hurt your reputation? But it also makes me shake my head that Addazio even thinks that long term. All coaches should think season to season. They are not guaranteed to have the next one. While I don't think Addazio is on the hot seat this year, he ruined a lot of good will with last year. If the players you recruit don't like when you bring in new players, that is their problem. Leave or compete. That is the answer. If a guy can't beat out some 5th year at BC, where is he going to be an impact player?

Coaches hate criticism from those on the outside. Yet they are so deep into their problems they often lose perspective. Think back to TOB trying to keep Quinton Porter happy while Matt Ryan sat on the bench? You should never promise playing time. Just the opportunity and a chance to get an education. Don't worry about reputations. I would rather have other schools say "Addazio will bring in someone over you" rather than "if you go to BC you will lose."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Are we supposed to be excited about Temple?

BC scheduled a home at home with Temple. The Alumni game will be played in 2018 and the return to Philadelphia will be in 2021. Temple is far from the worst team BC could schedule but in my opinion this is a filler game with little upside. And it continues Bates and Addazio's practice of safe non-conference scheduling.

BC rationalized the series with a little history. Temple was a staple of the BC schedule for years. And they were awful. But that was a time when Temple served as an easy W. These days all colleges schedule FCS teams to pad their win total. An easy win over Temple is harder to justify or shine up. Why play them? They are in a decent recruiting territory and have improved of late, but they are still likely to be bad in 2018 and 2021. No one will care if BC wins. There will be scorn if BC loses (I've sat through a loss to Temple).

If Addazio and Bates are really determined to take it easy, there are other schools we could schedule. Look at private academic schools outside the Power 5. Look at teams outside the Power 5 in markets where we have good alumni populations. Schedule in regions where we want to begin recruiting. Schedule a unique opponent with some sort of cache, would generate a little excitement. Scheduling Temple won't. For decades BC fans viewed the game as an easy win or skippable game. I have a feeling they will see it that way in 2018 too.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Getting to know Ethan Tucky

Expectations are pretty high for Ethan Tucky. The new LB was a key part of the recruiting class and then when Jim Reid came onboard, he raved about him and explained how badly he wanted Tucky at Iowa. If you're looking for signs that he will contribute early, take this interview as an example. BC would probably not have him sit down for the Q&A if they didn't think he was going to play this season. 

The interview doesn't contain anything groundbreaking or dramatic, but does give some insight into Tucky's personality. It seems like he has a good head on his shoulders and a good model for getting better. Beyond the physical, Tucky also explains the learning curve of college football and the staff's preparation. 

There's plenty of comparisons to Milano and Kuechly. That's a high ceiling, but if he really is in that league, BC can have a dominant defense for years to come. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The legacy of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two years ago I posted my concerns about the Ice Bucket Challenge. At the time, I questioned people's motives and recommended people focus on the giving, not the ice. Well it turns out my crankiness missed the point. The Ice Bucket Challenge did raise tens of millions of dollars for ALS and that money led to a breakthrough with regards to genes connected to ALS.

Hopefully that discovering leads to meaningful improvement in treating the disease. Hopefully it leads to a cure for Pete Frates -- the man who helped make the Ice Bucket Challenge a viral sensation.

I still think I was right to question people's motives, but I clearly should have focused on the upside. Congrats to all those who gave and I hope they are proud of the breakthrough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New details on ACC Network

Stewart Mandel posted a good article on the new ACC TV deal that resulted in a hard date for the ACC Network. What was clarified for the first time is how ESPN is going to generate money and guarantee carriage in a time when these types of networks are under fire. ESPN/Disney timed the launch of the ACC Network so that it coincides with the renewal of all the ESPN Networks. ESPN and the ACC will bundle the new network with the other ESPN Channels in an all or nothing proposal. If your cable company wants ESPN, they are going to need to carry the ACC Network.

Mandel also explains that basketball was a much bigger driver of the network than previously believed. All those Duke-UNC games plus the other second level powers will carry the network during the winter months.

I still have doubts that Notre Dame will ever give up football independence but they are the final piece in the puzzle. If the new playoff forced them into a conference, it will be the ACC. And if/when that happens, that gives the ACC one more trigger to juice the TV deal.

Monday, July 25, 2016

BC picked 5th in ACC Media Poll

Last week I predicted that the ACC Media would pick BC last in the Atlantic Division. Much to my surprise, they didn't. In fact, the media didn't even pick BC sixth. Instead our Eagles are expected to finish 5th. Maybe Addazio's enthusiasm and the confidence in BC's D is changing opinions.

The results of the poll show clear tiers in the division. At the top there is Clemson and FSU. Then some space before Louisville and NC State. BC is just barely ahead of Syracuse and then Wake. That's probably fair.

Just like my pessimism last week, this still doesn't mean much. BC has to go out and play the games, regardless of where they were expected to finish.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Based on media attention, Towles seems like the QB

The supposed open battle at QB doesn't look so open when you just read the press clippings. In interview after interview Addazio talked about the Towles and the mistake he made in not having more QB experience last season. This article references the "politics" of the situation last year. But the article also goes on about Towles winning qualities and fit with the approach. There is barely a mention of Wade.

in the end, I am not concerned with who plays and starts at QB. I am more concerned that Addazio learned from his mistakes. A QB rotation never really works and you can't worry about the player politics when the season is on the line. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Addazio is putting last year behind him

Give Addazio credit. He continues to show nothing but confidence. If he is right about his talent evaluations, this team should be fine.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Addazio is raising expectations

Addazio, Myles Willis and Matt Milano ran the gauntlet of the ACC Media Days Friday. While the answers and topics from most of the one-on-one interviews will sprinkle out in the following days, Addazio's press conference and ESPN interviews are out. In these interviews he's expressing a lot of optimism.

Addazio owes us optimism after he screwed up last season. While he still references not having recruited the whole roster -- and even points to Willis and Milano as examples -- this is his team. He has his coaching staff in place. He has depth at critical positions and has an OC he trusts. During the interviews he still falls back to things not being exactly how he wants, but there are not valid excuses this year.

I don't think Addazio is blowing smoke either. I think he believes what he is saying. I think the players do too. Now it is just about translating it to the field.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ACC Schedule Basketball to expand

The launch of the new ACC Network will mean many things but our first tidbit is that the basketball schedule will expand to 20 games. This is good news for BC. We have had a hard time building good basketball schedules. They've been either too hard or too easy with few games at Conte filled. These two extra games will improve BC's RIP opportunity and increases the number of quality teams that come to Chestnut Hill.

What comes next? My guess is more ACC Football games. It will only make sense. Basketball is nice but Football is what will drive the new network.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BC unveils new marketing slogan

This video is our first glimpse at BC's new Marketing slogan: BC is Boston's College. I have doubts that it will work, but I like the message.

When people say Boston is a "pro sports town," the underlying idea behind the message is people don't care about college sports. In my opinion, it is not that people don't care. It is more about people's loyalty and their spending habits are tied to the professional teams. If you look at BC's TV ratings, people clearly care. Not all those homes are BC alums. I think BC's big challenge is to get those casual TV fans in Boston to care just a bit more. Care enough that they come to games and care enough that they spend a little more money on BC merchandise.

To get them to care more you might as well play up the Boston angle. Let them consider us on the same level as the pro teams and let them try to get on the BC bandwagon.

There will always be challenges. Why are BU grads, or UMass grads or people from any other college going to start going to BC games? And how do you get the casual fan with no real affiliation to BC to come over to Chestnut Hill for a game? Winning is first. Reaching out is second and delivering a good game day experience is critical.

One Youtube video is not changing BC's standings among fans, but this is the right message to send.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hicks is gone

There were many "what could have been"s of the Steve Donahue era. One of the most intriguing was Darryl Hicks. But the injury bug that hit him in high school continued at BC to the point where he never even played for Donahue. Once he finally got on the court this year, we saw glimpses of potential, but nothing to make a difference with the terrible team. Now Hicks is gone. He's another example of predictable attrition as the roster truly becomes Jim Christian's.

With the depth the team has at guard and on the wings, Hicks was the odd man out. His minutes and productivity will be easily distributed. I don't think the loss will mean much to the success of this year's team.

I wish Hicks luck at his next stop. My advice would have been to stick out another year, get your BC degree and transfer. But maybe with all the bad luck he has had, he just wants a new start.

Monday, July 18, 2016

ACC Network coming in 2019

After years of speculation and enduring numerous changes in the college football and TV landscape, the ACC Network has a start date. It will come in 2019. The specifics and details will come later in the week at the ACC Media Days. But the highlights include extending the current TV, locking in Notre Dame and the ACC finally having a network. 

ESPN remains the key partner in the deal and that should help. Even in its decline, ESPN still has cash and leverage to get the ACC Network off to a good start. 

For BC this is continued good news. It provides stability. It provides more money. It keeps us on par with other Power 5 teams and for our fans, it means that much more coverage and content. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Where will the ACC voters rank BC?

Later this week, the ACC Coaches and players will head to North Carolina for the ACC Media Days. Coming off of last year, BC will not be a hot topic. In fact, we will be an afterthought. Outside of BC's players and fans, not much is expected. So as the ACC asks the attending media members for preseason predictions, I expect BC to finish last in the Atlantic.

Why the last place? I think Syracuse's new coach and the idea of them opening up their offense will earn points with the ACC observers. Wake is bad too, but they will have enough local writers there that some will put them above BC. I think the goodwill lost with the Don Brown departure will offset any positives related to the change on the offensive side of the ball.

The voting won't impact anything on the field but it does give insight into how we are perceived. Hopefully we get to prove them all wrong.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

BC looking to Canada Prep prospect

Many high school programs are mocked as "football schools." Canada Prep Academy is a football school. As in that's all they do. Founded in 2014 just across the border from New York in the Niagara area, the boarding school is small, focused purely on developing football players and plays an American schedule. I appreciate their specialization and cutting through a lot of the nonsense. The kids that attend are either trying to get noticed or improve their SAT scores. 

In the two years since it opened, BC has not been seriously involved with any of their players. Now we've offered their athlete Brandon Brown. Brown is currently committed to Central Michigan. I don't know or really care if we will pull Brown in, but I like establishing relationships with Canada Prep. It is a unique niche that will probably be a good stepping stone to under the radar prospects. You have to assume they want to play Power 5 football. Why not be top of mind for their coaches and late blooming players. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ty Graves highlights

We're in the dog days of summer, so enjoy this preview of things to come this winter.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

News on Brace and other links

When Ron Brace died so suddenly, it raised plenty of questions. Fortunately there are more answers now. Brace died from a irregular heartbeat combined with high blood pressure.

BC is considered a sleeper for this year. I guess there is an upside to having such a bad season.

BCI is reporting that Baseball is set to hire LIU Brooklyn's Alex Trezza as an assistant coach.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hoffses confirms Jeffers to BC

It has been rumored on BC message boards for weeks, but Wednesday Eric Hoffses and others confirmed that the Delaware's Maurice Jeffers will transfer to BC for his fifth year. The big man adds some frontline depth and experience to the team, but won't be a season changer. I just don't see him making a big leap from his Delaware productivity while at BC. What he does add is defense. Jeffers can block shots and hopefully protect the rim. Having a shot blocker should enable the wings and guards to be more aggressive on the perimeter.

Adding another 5th year means the team is still very unbalanced with an extreme mix of old and young. It is unlikely that BC will add any more basketball bodies before the season starts. I think this roster is better than last year's. Let's hope it comes together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Hockey departures and other links

As you've probably noticed, the BC Hockey team lost a lot of players this summer. Seven left and we are without any juniors. It is a big hit and even in BC's constant "reload" mindset, this is still an adjustment. But it is also the price you pay for having such a talented roster. 

This was actually a good ACC Media Preview precisely because it addresses the major issues in a way Addazio will not. 

I am used to our team receiving low rankings, but now our uniforms too?

The Saints expect big things from Edebali. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

BC sending Milano, Willis to ACC Media Days

BC named Matt Milano and Myles Willis as the Defensive and Offensive representatives at next week's ACC Media Days. As always with these things, this assignment is a bit of an honor and a bit of an indicator.

BC tends to send Seniors who can represent the school well and who have earned the special recognition. But they also want to send some of their best players as the media gatherings are a way to build up name recognition and help in getting individual and conference awards. Milano is not a surprise. He had a great season last year and is poised to be the team leader this year. Willis has certainly earned the right to go, but picking him also tells me that there are still huge question marks about the other offensive players. Sending either QB would be messy. When healthy Hilliman will get more carries than Willis. Is he not healthy yet or did they want to give Myles the shot now and Hilliman in the future?

Both guys will handle themselves well. I hope that they also use this sort of responsibility and motivation for a great season.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

CFN predicts each game on BC's schedule

How does 6-6 sound? That's what College Football News predicts for BC's season. After last year that would be an improvement, however, it would still seem hollow. As part of the prediction they expect BC to go 2-6 in ACC play.

6-6 does not allow for even one upset. I hope that our style of play and improved offense allows BC to steal at least one game. Think of some of the close games from last year. Something should have broken our way. If Addazio can't pull out any close games, then you really have to start questioning his game management abilities. 

CFN does not get into Bowl predictions, but 6-6 would make BC eligible and likely headed to a bowl game. Whatever it takes to get that seventh win and over .500. 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

390 athletes make ACC Academic Honor Roll

BC spends a lot of time on managing and publicizing APRs and graduation rates. However, just graduating athletes really undersells how much is done in the classroom by BC athletes. Nearly 400 students just made the ACC's Academic Honor Roll. That list recognizes students who maintain a 3.0 or better during one full school year. 

While some curriculums are easier than others, BC doesn't have fake majors or fake courses to pad these GPAs. These students work hard, especially when you consider their commitments outside the classroom. BC was third overall in ACC honorees. Congrats to all. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

What Syracuse's AD means for BC

Earlier this week, Syracuse hired former ESPN executive John Wildhack as their new Athletic Director. From an ACC and BC perspective, this is good news. Now as we design and negotiate new TV deals, we have a level of expertise unmatched by any other major conference. Wildhack understands ESPN in a way that few could. Hopefully, he also leads the charge in the every evolving ACC Network.

While hiring someone without any previous Athletic Department experience comes with risk, I applaud Syracuse for trying something new. Although non-traditional names were floated after GDF, Brad Bates was a safe and traditional candidate. The jury is still out on his success, but it seems pretty clear he is not going to make any major changes while in charge nor take any big risk. I hope that BC soon reaches a level of stability, so that when it comes time to replace Bates, BC can look beyond the traditional and make a hire like Syracuse just did.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

ESPN's Scouting Report on Burton

Austin Burton switched to a Florida High School to raise his profile and become a better football player. Based on this ESPN article it doesn't seem like any of that was necessary. Burton gets high praise for his arm strength and accuracy. They also think he'll be more mobile than expected.

All this talk about Burton has me feeling good, but I can only wonder how it will play out. The verbal to BC put him on other schools' radars. Playing at a higher level will also raise interest. Let's hope he continues to progress, yet doesn't give into the temptation that will come with new offers. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Hot Seats and other links

The Football season is nearing and Addazio is starting on many Hot Seat lists. Last year was disappointing, but it will take a lot for Bates to fire Addazio this year. Perhaps another winless ACC schedule.

Matt Ryan said all the right things at his BC press conference. He made a special point to thank and credit his two offensive coordinators -- Dana Bible and Steve Logan.

BCI listed all the ACC's odds for winning the conference and division. If you want to put money down on BC, you'll make big bucks if BC wins.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

BC to retire Ryan, Kuechly's jerseys

In two separate ceremonies this fall, BC will retire the jerseys of Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly. In the final paragraph of the release, BC explains:
Previously, Boston College has retired the numbers of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie and Outland Trophy winner Mike Ruth and the jerseys of eight other standouts: Art Donovan, Bill Flynn, Gene Goodreault, Mike Holovak, Lou Montgomery, Charles O'Rourke, Tony Thurman and Louis Urban.

Both Luke and Matt are great guys who followed great BC careers with great NFL careers. Both have given back to BC and serve as role models for the BC Football community. This honor is well deserved. However, I do have a few quibbles with the process and timing.

Retiring numbers in football is difficult logistically. The massive size of the roster necessitates recycling iconic numbers. Hence most teams use some sort of ring of honor. The eight numberless jerseys that are honored at Alumni are in the same concept. BC doesn't clarify whether or not Ryan and Kuechly's 12 and 40 will be permanently retired, yet both are out of use and seemingly reserved for retirement. I think Ryan and Kuechly should be retired, but their numbers should live on with new players. In my opinion, Flutie's 22 should be the only number not re-used. (I would argue that even Ruth's 58 was premature...but that is another subject.) While both Ryan and Kuechly were special, I don't think either deserve the ultimate honor and honoring them in that way now is a trend that glorifies the recent past (in all sports) over true history.

My second issue is that this honoring skips over too many guys who came between the Thurman-Flutie-Ruth eras and the Ryan-Kuechly ACC era. I think Herzlich and Kiwinuka were both conference players of the year and both had incredible college careers. I feel like they are not being honored like Ryan and Kuechly because their NFL careers did not reach the same heights. That shouldn't matter.

There might not be a Matt Ryan era if not for the rebound led by Glenn Foley. How is his jersey not retired? What about all the great offensive linemen who have protected BC's stars? Mike Cloud, Derrick Knight and Montel Harris all finished their respective BC careers as the school's all-time leading rusher. Some acknowledgement is deserved, not to mention what Andre Williams' accomplished. Tom Coughlin and Tom O'Brien deserved the same honor that Mike Holovak received. I could go on, but the point remains.

In the short term this will be a nice little boost of PR for the Football team. I hope it leads to clarification of what BC is honoring --  "jersey vs number" -- and a whole new group of other players getting the recognition they deserve.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy 4th of July

There were several July 4th messages on Twitter, but this one was my favorite. I keep smiling at the player wearing 1776. That's the number I would want to request if I played BC Football. God Bless America.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Dunn set to make pro debut

Justin Dunn completed the Mets 10-day throwing program for new signees and is now ready to pitch professionally. He's been assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones and could pitch any day now. Dunn is starting in the Bullpen, so his usage will be a bit unpredictable. The team is monitoring his pitch count and adjustment to the new environment. Good luck to him.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Trying to rebuild local basketball connections

Despite being the only major conference team in the area, BC doesn't have great relationships with the AAU basketball powers around Boston. The problems and history are long, but it is partially because of admissions issues, JOB's scorched earth, Skinner's disinterest and Donahue not having enough time to build relationships. Jim Christian is trying to change that. Hiring a Boston guy like Spinelli was a first step, but so is getting in early on local talent.

BC just offered 2019 prospect Brycen Goodine. He is a BABC product. BABC is the oldest AAU team in the area and yet recruiting there has been hit or miss for BC. Can this be the start of a different era?

Goodine's graduation year is a long, long way away, so who knows if anything will come of this offer, but I am glad BC is being aggressive. It is just one more step to turning things around.

Friday, July 01, 2016

BC needs to get Holy Cross in Hockey East

As BCI points out, it appears Holy Cross wants to join Hockey East. There are lots of hurdles to clear, but if the Crusaders put together a solid proposal, BC needs to be their biggest advocate.

Even though the Holy Cross-BC rivalry doesn't mean much to any BC fan born after 1970, baby steps towards rebuilding it are good for BC. We are headed towards a time of uncertainty for college sports. Paying players, breaking off from the NCAA, and challenges to Title IX are all in play. Given that BC is proudly anti-athletic payment, I could see a situation where our leadership decides to de-emphasizes sports (especially if the Power 5 really starts up player salaries). However, if our historic rival is moving towards big-time sports (like Football and Hockey), it will put pressure on BC. Why would BC give up the marketing and community advantage that sports brings just when Holy Cross is embracing it? Holy Cross learned their lesson when they decided against the Big East basketball and gave up athletic scholarships.

I know that Holy Cross joining Hockey East is not the same as the Crusaders joining the Big Ten (or even something like the Conference USA), but it is a good first step. And even if it doesn't generate huge athletic momentum for them or start an athletic renaissance for BC and Holy Cross, it would still be good to play them more often. Their return to big-time sports is also a good reminder of what we did right over the years.