Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Season prediction Part III: what will happen

We are about to start our fourth year with Addazio and I don't know what we have. Or maybe, I know what we have and I'm in denial. Last year dashed any hopes that I had that he might be a special coach. This year I am hoping for progress and competency. If we don't get both, then we've entered another lame duck era of BC Football.

I think this year will be okay. If you combine a good (maybe great) defense with an adequate offense and a forgiving schedule, you get to a bowl game. That's what I predict. Below is how I think it will play out. This is my prediction for the season.

What will happen

Georgia Tech. Win. We start our season with one of our toughest matchups. BC does enough well and forces some turnovers to hold onto the win.

at UMass. Win. It is never even close. BC's D holds them under 10 points.

at Virginia Tech. Loss. A tough game on the road early in the season. BC is close, but sees too many drives stall out.

Wagner. Win. All the backups get to play.

Buffalo. Win.  BC runs on them and gets a comfortable win.

Clemson. Loss. Not close. Clemson is riding high and we can't even play spoiler.

Syracuse. Win. I think Syracuse's coaching transition is going to be a little rough. BC wins easy.

at NC State. Win. This is a big one and gets people excited that maybe Addazio is getting over the hump.

Louisville. Loss. BC keeps it close, but cannot win.

at Florida State. Loss. In almost the same gameplan as Louisville, Addazio attempts to grind it out but BC cannot score enough.

UConn. Loss. This is a classic BC WTF and kills much of Addazio's goodwill. At this point we realize he's more TOB than he will ever be Urban Meyer.

at Wake Forest. Win. We rally back from the UConn loss, but there is still a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Finishing 7-5 (4-4 in the ACC) puts BC in a bowl. But no one wants us. We end up in Detroit and play Minnesota. BC wins and Addazio records his first bowl victory and his best season at the Heights, yet it all feels real hollow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Season Prediction Part II: best case scenario

BC's season is set up for a bounce back. The schedule is easier. The Offense should be better and everyone is a little older. Yet, the key for a great season is the Defense. If the Defense is as good as it was last year, this team will be one of the most surprising teams in college football. I think there will be some other issues this year, but I could see the season playing out like this

As a reminder, this is not what I think will happen. My actual prediction gets posted tomorrow.

Best Case Scenario

Georgia Tech. Win. The Offense looks better. The Defense deals with the Triple Option and everyone comes back from Ireland happy.

at UMass. Win. This game should not be an issue.

at Virginia Tech. Win. Another tough, early test. It is close and low scoring but BC pulls it out.

Wagner. Win. Most of the starters rest after the first half.

Buffalo. Win. With the win, BC improves to 5-0 and is ranked heading into the Clemson game.

Clemson. Loss. A huge, attention getting game. Campus is rocking and the team plays well early, but can't keep up with Clemson in a shoot out.

Syracuse. Win. Since we only seem to have close games in the Carrier Dome, this one is an easy win.

at NC State. Win. BC moves back into the polls after taking down the Pack.

Louisville. Win. This is the sort of game that turns a good season into a great one.

at Florida State. Loss. Another big game where BC comes up short, but still a respectable showing.

UConn. Win. Total domination.

at Wake Forest. Win. Easy game

This would be an incredible run and end with 10-2 (6-2 in the ACC). Losing to Clemson and Florida State would keep BC out of the ACC Championship Game. However, this sort of record and ranking would help BC's Bowl placement. I could see the Sun Bowl maybe against Oregon State. If we are riding that high, I say we win that game and finish with an 11-2 record and huge momentum for the program. This would also put BC in the Top 10 nationally.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Season Prediction Part I: worst case scenario

The closer we get to this season, the more angry I get about last year. We blew it. We wasted a once in a decade Defense and couldn't get out of our own way in multiple games. Addazio went through excuses as fast as he went through quarterbacks. Bad luck and bad bounces are part of sports, but last year went beyond being unlucky. We were not well coached or well managed. As I put together how bad things might be this season, I started to wonder what happens if we have two terrible seasons in a row. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.

As a reminder, this is not what I think will happen. This is more of a "what if." My real prediction will come later in the week.

Worst Case Scenario

Georgia Tech. Loss. There is huge risk in starting the season against Georgia Tech in a unique road game. We're not ready for their offense and it is a long flight home.

at UMass. Win. This is technically a road game, but the closeness and the opponent make for a nice bounce back after the rough start to the season.

at Virginia Tech. Loss. The Hokies are entering a period of uncertainty, but I still think they have more talent than BC and I still think Lane Stadium will be a tough place to play.

Wagner. Win. Another soft game to pad the stats and the W-L record.

Buffalo. Win. They're more respectable than Wagner, but even in a bad year I can't see BC losing this game.

Clemson. Loss. It will be a national game on campus against a probable Top 2 team. In a bad season they crush us by 28.

Syracuse. Loss. I think 'Cuse will be a mess this year too, but in a bad season I could see BC screwing this one up. If the season does play out like this, morale will be incredibly low at this point.

at NC State. Loss. The Offense still struggles and we now have a QB controversy...again.

Louisville. Loss. It is a defensive slog like last year. It is a loss like last year.

at Florida State. Loss. We play them close again, but there is no way we are winning this one.

UConn. Win. The losing streak ends. But no one feels great about where things stand.

at Wake Forest. Loss. Addazio is still unable to end the ACC losing streak.

This would leave BC 4-8 (0-8 in the ACC). What gets me worked up is that I could see Addazio surviving this sort of terrible season. No other Power 5 team would let a coach go 0-16 in conference over two years, but I think BC is in a weird position. I think Bates is tied to Addazio. I think some around the decision will think that part of the problem is never letting a coach hang around long enough to get a full roster. If it does get this bad, I will be banging the drum as loud as possible (not that it means anything). I don't think it will get this bad, but after last year I can't count on anything.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

BC picks four captains

After messing around with "game day" captains for a few seasons, Addazio decided to return to BC's old ways. The team voted on four captains who will represent the team for the entire season. The honored four are Truman Gutapfel, John Johnson, Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis.

I don't think captains or the idea of game day vs season captains wins any games for a team like BC. But I do think that having four elected leaders can hep build a better team culture. I hope these guys set a good example on the practice fields and the locker room and help BC get out of its rut.

I also hope that these captains set a good example while the team is in Ireland. We don't need any nonsense in a foreign country just as he season starts.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Welcome to life as a BC fan

BC welcomed the incoming freshmen to the BC family this weekend. It is a nice gesture and helps build community and pride. While there is so much more to BC than just sports, I don't know if any of these kids know what they have bought into as BC fans. There will be highs and lows and lots of wasted emotion, but ultimately it will be fun. We wouldn't keep watching if it were not fun. And hopefully these new members of the BC fan community will see more success and championships than those fans who came before.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Where should BC play next?

With Cal and Hawaii playing in Australia and BC getting ready for Ireland, I started to wonder about future BC road trips. If money is right, there is no reason why BC shouldn't consider future football games abroad. It raises the profile of the school, it generates some fan excitement, it gets a good TV slot and most importantly you can sell it to recruits.

I have mentioned Liverpool before. Given Fenway Sports Groups relationship with Liverpool and Anfield, BC could easily set up a game. I am sure ESPN would throw some extra money at us. The downside is that it might not have the same appeal to fans or other potential opponents.

Sydney, Australia seems like an interesting choice. If this Cal-Hawaii game proves successful, there will be more trips down under. It is a long way from Boston, but it might make for an interesting locale.

Toronto held bowl games, but no one really attempted anything in Montreal. I think it could be interesting, plus it is not that far from Boston. Our fans could make the trip.

There are still many American expats in Germany. There used to getting NFL games. Maybe a college game could draw well.

BC played in Tokyo once before. Why not go back? Like Australia, it would involve a long trip.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

It is all about Addazio

As I read more and more previews, the same issues are mentioned. Can BC's Defense sustain its dominance without Don Brown? Who will step up at QB? Can the Offensive Line come together?  Most of these previews also mention how many close games BC lost last year. (I assume someone from BC is providing that stat.) To me all these issues are interchangable. Every team heads into the season with one or two glaring concerns or an assistant to replace. To me the biggest question is: what has Addazio learned?

Last year was a disaster. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. While the team was young and hit with injuries, there were still huge, painful, shameful coaching mistakes that cost BC games. As a reminder:

  • the cluster at the end of the Wake Forest game.
  • the questionable clock management against Syracuse. 
  • Sticking with Fadule too long against Notre Dame. 
  • Sticking with Flutie too long against Duke. 
  • But to me, the biggest failure was the inability to cobble together some sort of offense with one of the QBs. 

Addazio changed both coordinators, brought in trusted friend and mentor Paul Pasqualoni and revamped his recruiting. The schedule is manageable. There are no real excuses. If BC doesn't bounce back in a major way then Addazio's story is over. He won't get fired, but we will know what his true potential is. I am still hoping for him to be a passionate TOB. Let's hope he's not just a harder working Spaz.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More Bowl predictions and other links

Campus Insiders predicts BC will get invited to the Quick Lane Bowl, which is the game played in Detroit on December 26. Remember the outrage when we last went there? I think most people would be happy with it now.

The Washington Post expects BC to win six games.

BC is now in full preparation for Georgia Tech.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Georgia Tech fans are saying about the Ireland trip [unscientific research]

Living in Atlanta, I know lots of Georgia Tech fans and listen to plenty of Atlanta sports radio. Do you know what Jacket fans are saying about the trip to Ireland? Nothing. There is no buzz and little excitement among my crowd. I only know of one person going. Now admittedly, I don't know every Georgia Tech fan in the world and I know that there will be plenty of Jacket supporters over there. My point is that playing the game in Ireland against BC has not broken into the wider sports discussion.

Georgia Tech's struggles to get attention mirror many of BC's issues. While Atlanta might not be as passionate about their professional teams as Boston fans, the Jackets compete with the Falcons and Braves for attention, plus the Georgia Bulldogs and all the SEC fans in the area. If you listen to local Sports Radio, you hear much more on Georgia and the other Top 25 matchups opening weekend than you do about Ireland.

When there is talk, the consensus seems to be that GT must come back with a win. That travelling that far only to lose to a winless ACC team would be a demoralizing way to start the season. One thing of note about the little I have read and heard: GT is practicing and scrimmaging early in the morning so that their body clocks are ready for the 7 AM kickoff.

Just because there isn't much early excitement about the game doesn't mean it is a bad idea or lost cause. I am glad BC tried something new and the unique timeslot on the opening weekend helps raise awareness. It will probably be BC's highest rated day game this season. But the general apathy around the game here is just a reminder that if BC ever wants to be top of mind in Boston (or nationally) they need to win more.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Burton flips

To the shock of no one, Florida (via Newton South) QB Austin Burton decommitted from BC and is now verballed to UCLA. When Burton first committed I had a feeling it was only temporary. You don't leave Massachusetts to gain exposure only to go play at a college ten minutes from Newton South.

BC will be fine. We have another QB in this class and there is always the chance Addazio could grab another 5th year (Hayden Rettig?) or a traditional transfer. I won't disparage Burton's choice. My mom went to UCLA and it has a lot to offer. But I do question why he wasted everyone's time committing to BC when it seemed obvious he had his sight sets on other things.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A different sort of hype video

BC released a well-received hype video last week. It was well done. But I thought some fans might like a different sort of video to get ready for Ireland. Like maybe the full game of the 1993 upset over No. 1 Notre Dame. Enjoy it while it is still up!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

BC posts about the scrimmage without really posting about the scrimmage

BC released a write up of their second scrimmage and it sounded more like a write up from a newspaper. No statistics are listed for the QBs. No mention of leading tacklers or who lined up where. It is a change from how things used to be covered by BC.

I notice these things because I've been doing this for so long. But maybe those sorts of details don't really matter. If Wade looked sharp or Towles went 8 for 8, is that really going to change Addazio's decision? Probably not. What's is encouraging is seeing new names like Tavon Jones or Glines sprinkled into the news. The hope is one of those new names turns his scrimmage showing into an impact on the real season.

BC also mentioned the focus on Georgia Tech. While it might seem early, I understand why they are doing prep for GT now. Playing a option team always creates more work. Plus we are going to be totally off schedule with the trip to Ireland. It makes sense to deal with this now. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips for Georgia Tech

BC's first game will be unusual. In part due to the setting in Ireland. But also because of the opponent: Georgia Tech. The Jackets' Triple Option Offense is unlike anything else BC will face this year. Because of the misdirection and multiple players involved in every play, you often hear that the defense has to play "assignment football." However, there are plenty more nuances than that. The D must also be ready for their different blocking approaches and their dangerous passing game. Watch the guys from Fox Sports South break it down a bit below. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

ACC Network "Extra" starts Friday

Our first glimpse of the ACC Network starts Friday with the launch of ACC Network Extra. It is essentially an Over-The-Top network that ESPN is powering. It is available to anyone with a WatchESPN or the ESPN App. While this is exciting, it is really just a fancy name for what most of us had and have with

It is a good first step, but the majority of the content with be non-revenue sports. This is good news for the diehards of these random sports. The number of games and their production quality will be much better.

It will be interesting to see how many actually use the "Extra" service. I think football still drives demand and viewers. Without key content, I think this first step will just be small one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Looking at Addazio's inconsistency on philosophies

Addazio has spent the whole offseason saying the Defense won't change now that Don Brown is gone. He says that the terminology is the same, the personnel and of course the aggressiveness. While Reid won't be running a system he put together, he has enough experience in football that this shouldn't be a problem. Plus Paul Pasqualoni -- who used Don Brown at UConn -- is around to fill in any gaps. I am fine with this idea of keeping the system after its founder is gone. Limited practice time and specialized recruiting help "systems" work in College Football, as opposed to the NFL where you have to do it all. What I find interesting is that Addazio is married to a Defensive System, yet keeps changing his offense each year. You wouldn't expect that from an offensive guy.

Articles like this reinforce the idea that Loeffler is going to make drastic changes to BC's offense. Much more passing and more downfield plays. We probably have the QB to do this, but I don't know if we have the OLine to protect him or the playmakers to leverage it. We will see once the games begin. But what if BC struggles again? Will Addazio try something else next year?

I don't know how intentional it was, but Addazio stumbled into something beautiful and brilliant in his second year. Because of the personnel and coaching, BC ran a scheme that was part Oregon and part Stanford. We couldn't throw well, but we had a unique and electric offense. Instead of keeping that unique style, Addazio scrapped it when Murphy left and Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day went to the NFL. Last year we started in a more traditional pocket passing, power game. Once Wade got hurt we struggled to do anything. That is where the lack of a system comes into play. If Addazio was truly building an offense -- not just adjusting to players and his OC -- he would have been able to better plug in a replacement for Wade. We will have the same issues this year if a QB goes down or no one can catch.

Maybe Loeffler is finally running the Offense Addazio wants. Maybe we will be power running with play action for deep balls. I don't care. I just want him to find something that works and stick with it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More on the scheduling debate in the ACC

We can assume that ESPN is well sourced on their ACC scheduling talks since ESPN is waiting for an answer. Tuesday Andrea Adelson broke down the even split between the 9-1 crowd and the 8-2 crowd. BC is firmly in the 9-1 camp. Ultimately it comes down to the flexibility needed for those schools that have non ACC rivals (GT, FSU, Clemson and Louisville) and those who have real trouble scheduling games among the Power 5. Something or someone will have to give since the ESPN/ACC Netwok is owed ten Power 5 games per team.

My guess is that the 8-2 crowd will win out. They have the most powerful football brands right now and the 8-2 model can still meet the needs of the 9-1 crowd. How? By allowing ACC schools to play each other as non-conference games. That puts BC at a slight disadvantage because our permanent crossover game against VT counts in the standings but a non-conference game say against Miami might not. But in my opinion, that is a minor problem. 

I prefer 8-2 and would like to see BC take on any and all Power 5 teams, even if it hurts our bowl eligibility on occasion. 

A compromise will be reached soon and I am sure it will be called unanimous regardless of how the actual votes play out. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Christian's extension doesn't really matter

BC upset a few fans when word leaked out that the school extended Jim Christian's contract one more year. The angry fans questioned extending a guy coming off a terrible season. The apologists said that the extension is needed for recruiting purposes. My reaction is that none of it matters.

The contract is just money. If you are a fan or donor, you could argue that it is "your money" paying the salary, but that is not really how it works. TV and shoes drive a lot of Christian's deal. It certainly isn't ticket sales. By 2020 -- when the deal ends -- we will know if Christian is capable of rebuilding this wreck or if he's a bum. If he's capable, the extension is a bargain. If he's a bum, it is just the cost of doing business. 

The contract extension is really just another turning point for Brad Bates. He's really on the line for this. If Christian flames out, it is Bates who will be answering questions...and it will probably be someone else making the next hire.

I would have preferred that BC took a stand and let Christian coach without the extension, but I am not losing sleep over any of it. BC's leaders only take stands when it fits their agendas. Right now they want Christian to succeed, so they are going through the usual motions. Let's hope it pays off. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Announcers for Ireland and other links

BC's historic game in Ireland will be called by...Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, and Paul Carcaterra? I cannot remember Benetti calling any previous BC games. I thought the ESPN2 slot in Ireland would draw a bigger name, but you get what you get. Let's hope they call a good game.

The Globe featured Davon Jones. Hopefully he's ready to break out.

Malachi Moore left Rutgers and will not use his fifth year. Best of luck to him.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scrimmage providing some answers

BC held its first scrimmage of the summer Saturday. Media attended so there are reports leaking out and plenty of good news. Right now -- despite what Addazio is saying -- Towles is the starting QB. He took all the first team snaps. This follows a week where he took the vast majority of snaps in practice. BCI's Hoffses says he looked good, so barring some sudden downturn in play, I think he will be named the starter.

Addazio seems happy with Wade too. All the running backs looked good. Let's hope the OLine can give them some holes. According to Hoffses, this is the group that started up front: LT-Schmal, LG-Cashman, C-Baker, RG-Lindstrom, RT-Lowery. I don't think that mix is as solid as Towles. Expect Addazio to keep tweaking the mix until they look good.

The interesting development on the Defensive side is the use of more zone. How much of that is Reid or Addazio or simply talent, I don't know. But the DBs remain really talented. Now that we finally have guys that can run with anyone, I would hate to play less man coverage. Addazio explains it that we can play more zone because he expects the front four to generate more pressure. I still have trust in Reid based purely on how aggressive he was in his first stint at BC.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Truth comes out on ACC Network deal

There has been plenty of talk about future ACC Football schedules. Would the conference move to nine league games? Could Georgia Tech's idea of eight ACC games plus two Power 5 games even work from a logistics standpoint? The league delayed their decision on future schedules Friday but will have to decided soon. We know that because the new ACC Network contractually calls for ten Power 5 games per team!

So when the smoke clears, schedule changes are not about playoff spots, computer rankings or even the idea of the conference wanting to challenge itself. It is all about TV money. ESPN gave the conference a bunch of money and now wants some good games. I don't blame them and think the ACC's greed will be good for BC Football fans. One way or another our team will be forced to beef up its schedule. You won't have to sit through as many lame home games because ESPN won't pay for them.

In a world where BC is forced to play ten Power 5 games, my preference is the 8+2 model. This is purely for the variety it would bring to the schedule. And if BC has trouble finding willing and interesting Power 5 teams, they can always schedule non-conference games against other ACC teams in need of a game. Would anyone object to playing Pitt or Miami at random intervals to fill out the schedule?

This doesn't mean that Bates has to schedule Alabama and Texas tomorrow. The ACC has some run up time built into the TV and ACC Network deal. The looming Big 12 expansion also means that the pool of Power 5 teams could expand at any minute. But in the end, this will lead to BC playing more teams that matter. If you are a fan of football and tired of cupcakes, this is great news.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More info on the new athletic projects

The Boston Business Journal published excerpts from BC's application to build athletic complexes, including a permanent Baseball and Softball facility, on the Brighton campus. Even though this is just one part of the overall plan, it is good to see some movement. The new fields have been promised long enough that a whole class of Baseball and Softball players have come through BC without ground being broken.

The article does not say how long the Boston Redevelopment Authority has to approve the plans, however, construction is expected to start in March 2017 and be completed in March of 2018. The March deadlines are crucial, since the team will need to schedule their 2018 games somewhere.

In other news related to the Indoor Practice Facility, progress on the Edmonds demolishing is noticeable.
Once the land is cleared there, BC can move into the next phase of buildings around the Stadium.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ACC AD Musical Chairs

Do you remember Mike Bobinski? His name was floated for the BC opening when we hired Bates. Since then, he left Xavier to take over Georgia Tech. Wednesday, word got out that he's leaving Tech after just a few years to become Athletic Director at Purdue. This is important for BC since Bobinski was one of the big proponents of the ACC playing two Power 5 teams out of conference annually. Aside from the logistical nightmare and questionable business strategy for the new ACC Network, Bobinski's exit probably means the new out of conference mandate is probably dead.

However, Bobinski's departure does raise the issue of Brad Bates' tenure. Bates is a Midwest guy with Big Ten connections. Why wasn't he mentioned for the Purdue job? His name was floated by Blauds for the Mizzou job, yet they went with a less experienced AD. After Michigan passed on bringing Bates back to Ann Arbor, you have to wonder how long Bates will be at BC.

When he was hired, I predicted a short run at BC for Bates. I figured this was his final preparation for the Michigan job and that BC wouldn't mind a short tenure after Gene overstayed his welcome. Now that he's not gaining traction for other openings, I think Bates may be at BC for a while. He's nearing the end of his original deal, so some sort of decision is needed. The conference is more stable, so there are fewer pressing issues there. The major projects remain fundraising and executing the practice facility and the baseball/softball transition. While Bates' hires have left a lot to be desired and his fundraising hasn't generated a massive windfall, there is no pressing reason not to renew him. I imagine a generic announcement and a multi-year extension will come soon. Or maybe BC will wait it out and see how Addazio and Christian do this year. Why not? No one else is coming to take Bates away.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

QBs are the focus of the media and other links

The QBs said all the right things after the first practice. I still doubt the "wide open" ness of this process. What if Wade is demonstrably better? Will he really start? Based on the lack of quotes, it seems like Fadule is not really in the mix.

Here is Fox Sports' preview of the team. They deal with the typical questions regarding QB and coordinator changes.

After a preseason injury the Redskins decided to waive Stephen Daniels. Supposedly there is still a space waiting for him on their IR once he clears waivers.

Chris Pantale is converting to Fullback with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Towles-Harambe dedication is going to be a thing

Last week Patrick Towles posted an Instagram (below) dedicating his season to the deceased Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Harambe. BCI noticed it and I thought it was just a college kid working an internet meme into his pictures. No bid deal, right?

Of course I was wrong. Now the story is getting picked up by other outlets (here and here). I fear that this will be mentioned a lot before the season and more than we want once the games start. Personally I think the idea is funny (and I assume Towles is going for laughs), but this really runs the risk of becoming a dead horse. The best ending for this meme is for Towles to really kick butt and everyone gets into Harambe. If not, let's hope it just dies out.

A photo posted by Patrick Towles (@patty_ice_8) on

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Thanks to Chris Cameron

Chris Cameron is about to leave Boston College for other opportunities. For those who don't know, Chris has spent 18 years leading the BC Sports Information team. As I have written before, if you appreciate how Boston College comes across in the media, you owe a debt of gratitude to Chris and his colleagues. While there have been moments the past two decades when our coaches and administrators looked like jerks in front of the media, I can't think of a single athlete who was exposed, hung out to dry or said something stupid. That is because they were all well prepared (and protected) when called upon. That job is much harder than you think.

Aside from the image of BC that Chris helped shape to the media, his team also did and does countless work making the media look good. Those facts and figures that the broadcasters and writers work into their coverage or the quick little anecdote about a player most likely came from Sports Information. Sports Information sometimes knows the players better than they know themselves.

My time as a student broadcaster predated Chris, so I didn't get to know him in the day to day setting like I did with Dick Kelley and Reid Oslin. I was just a blogger in another part of the country. However, he was always very helpful and accommodating, especially in the early days when he certainly didn't have to be. I wish him luck and thanks for his long commitment to BC.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

More signs staff expects Towles to start

Preseason awards "watch lists" are sort of a joke. Nearly every team works to get one of their players on every list. And now there is a specialty award for nearly every position, so hundreds of players end up on these lists. Yet it still takes a great season to actually win an award and plenty of players who weren't on the preseason lists emerge and win the prizes. But the awards do tell you what the coaches expect. BC put Patrick Towles on the preseason Unitas List. In my opinion that is another sign that the staff expect him to start.

But I don't think the preseason list guarantees Towles anything beyond the Georgia Tech game. Addazio admitted his mistakes from last year. He needs to win and if Towles doesn't step up, Wade will get a shot. Who knows, maybe Wade could even win the Unitas award.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Lessons from Last Chance U

If you like football and behind the scenes sports documentaries, I highly recommend Netflix's Last Chance U. It spends a season with the players, coaches and administrators at East Mississippi Community College as the Defending National Junior College Champions look to win their fourth championship in five years. Because this is a JuCo, I think the players and coaches were much more unguarded than they might have been at a big university. The series is entertaining on its own, but also provides some great insight into the larger world of college football and provides perspective about how we do things at BC.


Chaos on the sidelines

Whenever one of our coaches messes up a two minute drill, we all go crazy. Yet here is Junior College's most prolific offense -- in theory a fine tuned machine -- screwing up. At one point, the head coach didn't even realize it was 4th down or what the call was. And this team wins. This reinforced for me that so much of this is talent, talent and talent. East Mississippi is not winning because Stephens is some great Xs & Os guy or a great game manager. He's winning because he is out recruiting his fellow JUCOs and filling up on Power 5 talent that either can't qualify or had trouble at bigger programs.

BC will never be able to recruit JUCO players

It is not a good fit. I am sure we will have the occasional exception, but in general there will be very few JUCO players who would ever get by our Admissions Office. These guys are taking what amounts to remedial classes (Algebra, Basic Comp, etc.) and really struggling. Few seem motivated to try at all, even as their teachers and administrators hold their hands through the whole process. The only JUCOs we might ever be able to land are players like John Franklin III. He already qualified for an ACC team and is only at East Mississippi to showcase his talents. And based on what the conversation the East Mississippi people had with Auburn, he breezed through their classes with mostly A's.

And even if Admissions allowed our coaches to go all in on JUCOs, I still think BC would be a tough sell. Getting on a plane and going to Southeast Missouri intimidated Ronald Ollie. Can you imagine what it would be like trying to get some of these isolated and immature kids up to Boston? They all dream of the SEC. BC is a very different sell.

Academic Advisors are the unsung heroes of any successful program

The breakout star of the series is East Mississippi's Academic Advisor Brittany Wagner. She serves as den mother, big sister, baby sitter, tutor and school supply closet to the team. Without her, half of this team wouldn't be eligible. While the academic cases at East Mississippi are more extreme, don't think that this sort of support is not going on at every Power 5 program. Our players come to BC much more prepared than your typical JUCO, but there is a whole team of people at BC making sure they go to class, that they sign up for the right classes, that their GPAs remain strong, that they graduate on time, etc. You can question whether these players should even be in a college environment or what they are truly learning, but you can't question Wagner's passion or commitment.

There is still a lot of corruption in College Sports

It was just one passing moment in a six hours series, but I was surprised by the exchange between one player and a recruiter, when the player said he couldn't say what else he needed to commit "in front of the cameras."

The coach clearly understood what he meant and said, "there is nothing else. We follow NCAA rules..."

But as we all saw on Draft night, under the table payments are still alive and well in the SEC. I am sure it is rampant at other places too. If a marginal JUCO recruit is asking for extras, you can only imagine what the elite guys are doing.

BC is different but not that different

I think BC wants and tries to do things the "right way," but I am not naive enough to think we're perfect. Last Chance U isn't the same as a behind the scenes might be at the Heights, but there are probably more similarities than we would ever realize.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The blessing and course of ESPN3

The UMass game at Gillette will be on ESPN3. Because it is technically an away game, a broadcast was not guaranteed, so getting the ESPN3 feed is a good thing (it will also get a television broadcast in the New England area). It was only a few short years ago that something like this wouldn't have been picked up, so I appreciate the access. I also think the production value of ESPN3 games improves every season. However, the ubiquity of OTT solutions only drives the importance of the ACC Network.

Media presence remains a selling point in college sports. It used to be a big deal to tell kids that all their games would be on TV. Now everyone can say that. As long as mom or dad or grandma has an internet connection, he or she can watch every play. If every game is on the internet, it can't be a big deal to recruits. But saying you are on ESPN or ABC or whatever does mean something. It elevates the importance of the games. The ACC Network won't carry the same level of cache with recruits, but at least it is a dedicated network to their conference. We can also say that all of the games will be on ESPN's family of Networks (since the ACC will be part of it).

Having the ACC Network instead of streaming ESPN3 will also change perception with some of our fans. The diehards are used to streaming the games. But there is still a portion of the fanbase that would rather just turn on their TV and flip to the channel.

With the UMass game picked up, every BC game will have some sort of coverage this season.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Why is it so hard to get the uniforms right?

BC unveiled their new uniforms Wednesday (see embedded tweet below). The major changes are in the sleeves and in the pants. BC added stripes to the arms that include white and maroon against a gold base. The lines on the pants now curve in between the knees and thighs. None of this is objectionable, but it is all unnecessary. Do these changes excite anyone or do they just add more clutter to the jersey? The curved line on the pants have been around since the Broncos moved to them in the 1990s. Are we adopting them now to look current? I know this is about Under Armour and recruits, but there is a much simpler way to go about this.

BC should have a standard, classic base uniform for home and road games. Gold helmet with maroon stripe, gimmick free maroon jersey and simple gold pants. If you want to add a maroon stripe to the gold pants, I would not object. We've had various road styles over the years. My suggestion is to pick a simple one and stick with it.

Once you have your "base uniforms" established, then you get crazy with the rest of the season. Add wings or feathers to the helmet. Go all black. Use funky fonts and italics. Put lines all over it. Create a super fan style uniform. Use different shades of gold or maroon. Become the Oregon of the East. I don't care. Just as long as there is a simple, consistent BC to revert to for most of the season.

This new look to the sleeves and pants is not the worst we've had, but I am not a fan. Like all these uniform changes, this will get changed in a year or two. Hopefully soon BC will realize that the best way to appeal to old fans like me and young recruits is to get a uniform for every occassion instead of one look that leaves everyone so empty.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

BC makes non-conference basketball schedule official

BC released its non-conference basketball schedule Tuesday. No real surprises. The one thing drawing attention is that BC plays no true road games. There are some quality opponents, but all of those games are either at Conte or a neutral site. Even regional games and traditional rivals are home this year (Providence and Harvard to name two).

If BC were planning on a big season, this would be a big deal. But in a rebuilding year it is not. RPI and tournament resumes factor in true road games, but does anyone think BC will even be in that conversation?

A few years ago Steve Donahue scheduled himself out of a job. I hope Jim Christian realizes what a gift this season is and scheduled himself some Ws and goodwill.

Monday, August 01, 2016

BC Coaches don't overreact to NCAA‬ Proposal 2015-48

Did your social media feed feel different Monday? If you are a fan of a major football power it probably did. Starting August 1, coaches are now allowed new levels of interaction with recruits in various social networks. The minutia of what the coaches can and cannot do is hysterical in its triviality, yet there were guys who've Rose Bowls like Gary Patterson furiously retweeting the most banal stuff from recruits he wants at TCU. One Power 5 team that didn't go all in on the new rule was Boston College.

Based on the Twitter feeds of Addazio, Al Washington, Anthony Campanile and Rich Gunnell, it seems like they treated Monday like any old day. Gunnell retweeted a few recruits who posted their BC offers, but that was about it. The team that once embraced Vines, was basically uninterested in the changes. Should BC fans be concerned? I don't think so.

While Social Networks and Social Media are important communication tools, they are only one part of the sales pitch. You still have to text and call and visit the players and their parents. If anything, social media provides greater insight into the recruits for the coaches, then the other way around. A social network account can give glimpses into a player's attitude and maturity.

BC also remains a niche product to most recruits. Location and the admission requirements will always make it so. That leaves BC coaches to spend more time finding the right guys as opposed to shotguning all the top recruits and retweeting their morning activities.

Maybe Addazio and company will become more engaged in the months ahead. If they start losing recruits due to lack of attention, they will have to react. But for now, I am glad they are taking their time and not overreacting.