Saturday, November 30, 2019

Now what?

Before I start, as a reminder, this will be a decision between Martin Jarmond and Father Leahy. Everything you hear or read on twitter or message boards is gossip or speculation. I don't know what Jarmond is thinking. I do know that he does have to sell his decision to Father Leahy. Firing a bowl-bound coach makes a lot of sense to many of us. I have no idea if it makes sense to our president.

Here are some things that are not speculation. I think all are relevant:
-- Addazio's current deal and buyout are very manageable. 
-- Rutgers has permission to talk to Addazio, however, reports out of New Jersey say that Rutgers and Schiano are close to a deal.
-- Many agents think the job will open. 
-- Many BC staffers think a change is coming.
-- Many players think a change is coming.

Speculation from me
I think Jarmond wants to make a change. He knows the team has underachieved the past two seasons. He also knows that he will need to make a major hire for his own resume. However, the basketball situation complicates things. I don't know if Jarmond has the political capital or the desire to change both coaches in the same school year. If he is justifying a change, Christian is the easier decision (and he also has a BC-friendly buyout). 

If a change is made, it will be soon. BC won't know its bowl status for a week and is guaranteed a spot via the ACC. It doesn't need Addazio to get invited to a bowl. 

I am going to say there is a change coming but I am just guessing.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The tricky balance of "fit" when making a coaching hire

Fit is very important in college football. There are unique institutional and regional challenges to every job and if a coach is not prepared for those challenges, he is constantly battling up hill. For recent examples you can look at Chris Ash never connecting with New Jersey high school coaches and their recruits at Rutgers or the already awkward relationship between Joe Moorhead and the Mississippi State fanbase.

But you have to be careful when considering fit. You don't want to overlook someone just because he hasn't played or coached at your school. For me, I want someone who understands the type of challenges BC faces, but also understands how to leverage its advantages.

But the biggest trap when considering fit is limiting the search to just candidates the fans know. I write this because of the rumors that Al Washington and Don Brown are favorites to replace Addazio. I don't think this is true (for a variety of reasons). I also think it is way premature to assume anyone is the favorite. But even accepting it at facevalue, I think hiring Brown or Washington now would be a huge risk and a sign of a bad process. Are both guys beloved and respected around BC and New England? Yes. But would any other Power 5 school even have them among their final choices? No.

This is also hard for me to write but age is the biggest factor against both. Brown is too old and Washington is too young.

Brown will be 65 this summer. While he seems to have the energy of a younger man and seems to relate to young players, these jobs are a real grind that will wear even the best. Plus his age will be used against BC over and over in recruiting. Could he do it? Sure. But is he the guy to take BC to the next level? I don't think so. And I think we can do better this time around.

Washington is 35, which while young, isn't a deal breaker. But Washington's resume lacks any coordinator experience. He has never managed a game and never hired a staff. It would be a huge unknown. I like that he has been getting experience away from BC, but he still hasn't checked all the boxes.

If either of these guys are hired, they will have my support. I just don't think it is the right time for either and would be a sign that the searched prized BCness over everything else.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

BC-Pitt preview

Under normal circumstances all the gossip about Addazio to Rutgers or the pressure he has at BC would be a major distraction. I actually don't think it is a big deal. The players and staff have known about Addazio's Hot Seat all season. At this point they are used to it. If anything, they know that this game is important for everyone but Addazio. They need to win to keep playing. They need to impress future coaches. This won't be about Addazio. It will be about this group fighting for one more game.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There is an outside chance that BC could play in a bowl even if they lose this game. IF not enough teams qualify for bowls, the empty slots are then filled with teams with the best APR. Right now Duke holds the first spot. BC is No. 2. This remains a long shot, but it could happen. I would prefer to just win, but more BC football is always welcome.

Three Simple Keys
1. Scoring before the half. This is directly related to last week but it was a problem for the whole Addazio era. He has wasted time and possessions over and over. This is probably his last game. Try to be smart.
2. Grosel using his feet. There will be plenty of chances for him to run. He needs to be smart and convert when given the chance.
3. Don't allow big plays. For Pitt, I would prefer a little bend but don't break. Make them work the field and hope for mistakes.

Gambling Notes
-- Pitt leads the series 17-12
-- Addazio is 3-3 in season finales
-- BC is 0-2 at Heinz Field
The current line is BC+8.5

This is the first time BC has played in Pittsburgh in an ACC game.

Scoreboard Watching
Michigan-Ohio State. Beyond all the BC connections on both sides, there are two names attached to watch: Jeff Hafley and Anthony Campanile. Both will be mentioned for the BC job...probably as early as Monday.

BC is in trouble if...
Pitt stops the running game. Narduzzi is a good defensive coach and will try to make BC one-dimensional. If Pitt controls line and stops the running game, BC will not win.

I hope to see...
A huge day from Dillon. This is probably his final game at BC. He has been great. Unfortunately the team has been forgettable during his three seasons. It would be nice to go out with a big win.

Bottom Line
I think we control the line of scrimmage and Grosel has a big day. The D gets a bit lucky with turnovers and we grind away with the run game in the second half.
Final Score: BC 28, Pitt 20

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Coaching Candidates: BC Guys

There will be lots of names floated for any BC opening. And with each coaching carousel there are plenty of names mentioned for every opening. However, there will be a few BC-specific names that will at least get a look. These are the sorts of candidates who won't get interviewed at any other P5 jobs and probably wouldn't be considered for BC if not for their alumni status. I would be very surprised if any of these guys got the job, but all might be worth the risk. Getting a true BC guy to take us to the next level would be special.

Mike Reed '95
Defensive Backs Coach, Clemson 
Bio: A player from the Coughlin era, Reed has been in coaching for 18 years. He had a stint coaching in the NFL with Eagles, then worked for TOB at NC State and has been with Dabo in Clemson during their championship run.
Pros: Reed is considered a very good recruiter and is well liked by the BC Football alumni. He works in the ACC. He has been part of one of the most successful college programs of the decade.
Cons: Reed has never been a coordinator and has turned down chances to come back to BC as an assistant (under TOB, Jags and Spaz).
Bottom Line: If Reed was one of Clemson's coordinators, he would already be a Head Coach. Unlike Brent Venables -- who is not particularly polished -- Reed can be the face of a program. The only hole on his resume is the lack of track record of calling a game on one side of the ball.

Pete Carmichael Jr. '94
Offensive Coordinator, New Orleans Saints
Bio: Carmichael is a former BC baseball player and his dad was a football coach at BC under Yukica, Bicknell and Coughlin. He has been the offensive coordinator for one of the NFL's best and most dynamic offenses for a decade. At 12, Pete served as Bicknell's headset/cord guy. That is young Pete getting the headset right after Flutie's Hail Mary.

Pros: The Saints have been innovators at the NFL level, so you assume Carmichael would bring an exciting product and also blend the best of the NFL and college. His NFL pedigree could be an effective recruiting tool.
Cons: Carmichael doesn't call the plays in New Orleans and Payton and Brees tend to get all the credit. He hasn't coached or recruited in college since the '90s.
Bottom Line: Despite expressing interest Carmichael never even got a sniff at the job when Bates fired Spaz. It was surprising then and also remains a bit surprising that he hasn't been given a shot in the NFL.

Marc Colombo '02
Offensive Line Coach, Dallas Cowboys
Pros: He coaches arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. He transitioned seamlessly from his playing career to coaching. The Jones family loves him and there is already speculation that he will be a Cowboys Head Coach one day. He would continue the BC tradition of developing great OLines.
Cons: He has only coached in the NFL and only been an official coach with the Cowboys for three seasons (prior to that he was in their front office). He has no experience recruiting and no experience running one side of the ball.
Bottom Line: Colombo might turn out to be one of those names that has us saying "what if" a decade from now, but if he were to come to BC this year it would be a huge risk. His lack of experience would probably create growing pains that other candidates wouldn't face.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Dominoes fall: Rutgers and Schiano can't reach deal

Rutgers and Greg Schiano couldn't agree to terms and their former coach will not return to the New Jersey school. This impacts BC on two fronts. One, it leaves Schiano as a prime candidate for the BC job. He has plenty of baggage and plenty of detractors, but he will also have some very influential supporters in his corner. I will dive deeper into Schiano this week, but in my opinion, he would be very good at BC.

The second way this could impact BC is Rutgers needing a Plan B. The New Jersey media is already listing two names previously floated for BC: Anthony Campanile and Joe Moorhead. I will go deeper into both of those guys too. But I think ultimately their Plan B will include Steve Addazio. While I don't think interest from Rutgers will change perception of Addazio at BC nor protect him from a firing, having Rutgers hire him away (either pre or post firing) would reduce his BC buyout.

The odds that Schiano ends up at BC and Addazio ends up at Rutgers are very, very slim, but would be a win-win for all.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's over

I am not breaking news, just combining speculation, rumor and my opinion. Notre Dame blowing out BC was the worst possible outcome for Addazio. He might rally the troops next week and get to a bowl, but this season has more than answered any questions about the direction of the program. It also sent a message to both the diehard and the casual fans. Addazio at his best is a seven win coach and he will never deliver those special moments when BC "shocks the world." It is time for a change.

As we know from last year, these decisions are not simple and straight forward. Could Father Leahy and/or the BOT prevent Jarmond from making a change? Of course. But I don't think there are any real financial barriers nor anyone going to bat for Addazio. It's over.

I will start coaching profiles this week.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

BC-Notre Dame preview

This is the last stand for Addazio. Despite what I wrote just last week, I think the mood has changed to the point that beating Pitt next week is not enough. I don't know what Leahy, the Board and Jarmond are feeling, but the fanbase has certainly checked out. Even at a place like BC -- where the fans don't run things -- you can't let your customer base continue to erode. Right now under Addazio, we are on the road to nowhere. It is up to the coach and the players to show the community that we are wrong and there is still fight and hope.

What's on my mind (not TOTALLY related to this game)
Earlier this week Addazio had Ricky Brown, Josh Beekman and Rich Gunnell address the team to tell them the importance and history of this game. I don't think Addazio intended to frustrate long-time fans like me with his actions but it did. Just 15 years ago, this was THE game on the BC calendar. All the fans cared. Many traveled. The media made a big deal of it. The players came out of the locker room with passion and energy. It was great. Now it shows how short institutional memory is that Addazio has to bring in people to remind the ream that this game used to mean something. How about this coach, if you want it to mean something, how about actually win a big game? How about actually play to the level of a ranked opponent? How about comeback when down? How about managing a game in a way that helps your team? If you want it to matter, then win the stinking game! Addazio didn't have an annual game with the Irish built into the schedule like TOB did, but he has done nothing to show that he can upset teams on a consistent basis nor that he can get the team to win games that are of extra importance. Now stop talking. Stop making excuses and go win the damn game.

Three Simple keys
1. Play action passing. The Irish pass D is not good. As much as I believe in sticking with the run, I know that early play action will work and help BC move the ball.
2. Tackling. I don't think the team will suddenly become tackling machines, but we've had an off week. Let's hope they worked on it. One or two more tackles and they would have won the Florida State game.
3. No field goals. Don't bother. The Irish can score. We will need seven instead of missed 3s. Just keep going for it on 4th down.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 4-9 coming off a bye
-- Addazio is 0-2 vs the Irish
-- Addazio is 1-16 vs ranked teams
The current line is BC+20

It has been eight years since our last trip to South Bend. That is the longest break in between trips to South Bend since BC began playing there in 1987.

Scoreboard Watching
Nothing really matters at this point. Win a game and we are going bowling. We are only looking at the lowest of the lower tier bowls, so the impact of other ACC teams is minimal.

I hope to see...
The team playing with emotion. If you believe the rumors, the players expect a coaching change. It can be hard to get up for a game at this point in the season if you feel there is nothing on the line. I don't know how they feel about Addazio and if they will want to go "win one for the Gipper" (if you will) but they still have each other and the school. Let's hope they come out ready to play and win the game. Although it might not mean much, it would mean everything in the long run.

BC is in trouble if...
Notre Dame builds a double digit lead in the first half. We all know Addazio's teams are not known for comebacks. I would really be shocked if they came back in this sort of situation.

Bottom Line
Can Notre Dame be beaten? Yes. Can BC score enough on them to win? Yes. But it is going to take a great defensive effort. I don't know if we have that. I also clearly don't trust Addazio to push the right button.
Final Score: Notre Dame 38, BC 24

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Perspective on Addazio at BC and among his peers

Tuesday got a little heated on the BC-twittersphere after two different ESPN talking heads started defending Addazio in response to BCI's "fire Addazio" post. The ESPN crew's case for keeping Addazio was weak but the points that hit a nerve were "it is hard to win at BC, we (the fans) are taking seven wins for granted and be careful what you wish for." I spent a long time on Twitter shooting holes in that argument, but I wanted to use this post to provide more perspective.

This is Addazio's seventh season. BC has given him plenty of time to build and shape the program. There has been plenty of time to put one great season together. There have been plenty of games to learn from and adapt. He hasn't and will be very lucky to win seven this year. What he is accomplishing is not impressive when you compare it to his BC peers, his ACC peers and the other coaches hired for the 2013.

Addazio when compared to modern era BC coaches

Jeff Jagodzinski -- 2 seasons, .714 Winning Percentage
Tom O'Brien -- 10 seasons, .625 Winning Percentage
Tom Coughlin -- 3 seasons, .614 Winning Percentage
Jack Bicknell -- 10 seasons, .517 Winning Percentage
Steve Addazio -- 7 seasons, .500 Winning Percentage
Dan Henning -- 3 seasons, .458 Winning Percentage
Frank Spaziani -- 4 seasons, .431 Winning Percentage

ACC Coaching Tenure
Another reminder that BC has been patient with Addazio and given him plenty of time is ACC Tenure. Addazio and Dave Doeren are tied for the third most seniority in the conference. Doeren has a very similar record. Dabo obviously has an incredible record. Cutcliffe's run at Duke doesn't look great based on winning percentage, but he has been much better than his predecessors, which is something Addazio can't claim.

David Cutcliffe (12 seasons): 71-77 (ACC record 36-60)
Dabo Swinney (12 seasons): 126-30 (ACC record 75-16) 
Dave Doeren (seven seasons) : 47-39 (ACC record 21-32)
Steve Addazio (seven seasons): 43-43 (ACC record 21-34)

Coaches Hired for the 2013 Season
Finally there is the group of coaches who started at their respective jobs the same time Addazio started his time at BC. Believe it or not, 30 coaches took new FBS jobs that year. Only five still hold that same job. This is how Addazio stacks up among his peers.

Gus Malzahn: 60-29
Skip Holtz:  54-34
Dave Doeren: 47-39
Steve Addazio: 43-43 
Mark Stoops: 40-44

Once again, BC appears patient. 25 other teams who made changes entering the 2013 season have changed again. BC is still employing Addazio and he has the the second worst record of the remaining coaches (and one could argue Mark Stoops' 10-win year more than offsets for being four wins behind Addazio).

I want change. There could be an argument not to make the change, but the ESPN crew's argument that Addazio is accomplishing a lot at BC doesn't hold up historically or nationally.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Can Addazio still save his job?

While nothing has ever been said publicly, I think the consensus among those around BC Football is that Steve Addazio's seat has never been hotter. Sitting at 5-5, his odds of another winning season are not great. Plus there is a general feeling of disappointment in the losing and the excuses. While harder to measure -- because they're not vocal -- there is also a growing apathy among the fanbase.

But just because I want change doesn't mean that is guaranteed. BC, like all colleges, is very political and a big decision like this is not simple. Jarmond has a boss and his boss answers to a Board of Trustees. I think both Father Leahy and the BOT could keep Addazio around if the following happens:

1. BC beats Notre Dame and Pitt. This would leave us at 7-5 with a lot of public momentum. The casual BC fans would be ecstatic about the Notre Dame win. It would also mean Addazio would enter the bowl game with a chance at eight wins. His contract would still be favorable to BC and he has a decent recruiting class coming in. I don't see BC making the move in this situation.

2. BC wins big over Notre Dame and loses to Pitt in a close game. While this scenario would reinforce the Addazio critics' narrative, I think a resounding victory over a ranked Irish team would give him enough breathing room to lose to Pitt the next week. 6-6 would put BC in a bowl and give the team another shot at seven wins.

But those are the only two scenarios where Addazio is safe. He has to beat Notre Dame. He also cannot get blown out in either remaining game. This is speculation on my part, but the narrative paths are taking shape and the narrative is important to all the parties involved. Not all seven wins are created equal and BC's leadership needs support of the BC community. If they want people buying in on Addazio Year 8, the coach needs to pull out a big win and avoid any more embarrassments.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Basketball starts 2-0, yet I remain skeptical

BC Basketball improved to 2-0 in this new season with its win over USF Sunday. I am probably coming off like a bit of a Scrooge, but I am still a bit pessimistic about the season ahead. We beat Wake but they're terrible. The USF game was a good defensive effort and a nice road win, but the team turned the ball over 27 times. That can't happen going forward if the team wants to win.

The good news is that Thorton seems like one of those guys who is going to be a player. While this rule isn't fool proof, BC guys who make an impact early tend to be really, really good. 

BC takes on High Point Wednesday. I know the heart of the ACC schedule is on the horizon, but Christian's first test will be handling the soft part of the schedule. Every year he has a hiccup during these games. Let's hope that doesn't happen this year.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

All Addazio's issues on display in loss to FSU

In the postgame handshake, FSU's interim Head Coach Odell Haggins could be seen and heard repeatedly telling Addazio that he "is a hellavu coach!" I can see why an old school coach would appreciate Addazio. His teams play a style that nearly all current coaches grew up playing. He is a grinder. He wears his emotion on his sleeve. And if you only pay attention to BC as you prep for the game, you might appreciate all Addazio does vs all the problems his team consistently has. For those of us who have watched Addazio up close for seven years, this game was just a microcosm of our frustrations with BC's coach.

The D is bad and not getting better. The defensive issues are talent and scheme. BC missed two field goals too. While that is beyond frustrating, Addazio's approach and management of the game related to our kicking woes was moronic. Field goals are not as valuable as perceived in general in football. Addazio should know that. There have been millions of statistical studies to confirm that. Second, field goals are historically high risk for his teams. Finally he has one of the best olines in the country. Nearly any drive in field goal territory should be considered four-down territory. Third and long? Run the ball and get it to fourth and short. Fourth and short. Run again. Even without a 100% success rate, that model will pay off more than us kicking bad field goals. 

Addazio really blew it at the end of the half when he didn't use his timeouts and purposely settled for a field goal attempt...which BC missed. 

I already want a coaching change. This loss might move a few more fans towards my opinion. We've seen everything we need to know. He is an okay head coach but so limited in his approach that he will never get BC to somewhere special. His floor and his ceiling are the same. 

The season is not over. I still think we can beat Pitt and get to a bowl. Addazio is the Houdini of the Hot Seat, so maybe he pulls off a huge upset of Notre Dame in two weeks. But it doesn't matter. He clearly is what he is and we've all seen enough.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

BC-FSU preview

Ideally if you were facing a broken team with an interim coach, you would want a big powerful offensive line to just run all over the checked out opponent.  Just keep things simple and break their already broken spirit. Conversely if you were a team with an interim coach and nothing to lose, you would want your one asset to be an aggressive offense with a few home run hitters who can keep you in the game and make the other team nervous. That is sort of the matchup this week. Both teams think they have a chance. It would have been much easier to guess the outcome of this game if Florida State had not fired Taggart this week. Instead we get a situation where anything can happen.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Aside from being the "Red Bandana" game, this is also Senior Day. It feels a bit weird that this is our last home game of the year, but I guess it is better than trying to have late November home games. With those dates, students are either leaving or gone if it is too close to Thanksgiving. It is just a shame that now with the ACC and Notre Dame TV deals our schedule tends to be very frontloaded in September.

Three Simple Keys
1. Safety help. By design Florida State likes to go deep on offense. When they see tape of our breakdowns, they will be even more tempted. Our Safeties need to help out and play smart, especially on deep balls.
2. Stick with the run, even if we get down early. I admire how BC handled the Syracuse game. Even when a few things didn't go our way early, they kept with the run. The same things could happen this weekend. BC needs to know that staying with the run will payoff.
3. Get Flowers more touches. Even simple jet sweeps will compliment the entire playbook.

Gambling Notes
-- The home team has won the last three games in this series.
-- BC is 5-12 vs Florida State
-- Addazio is 3-3 on Senior Day
The current line is BC-2.5

Odell Haggins is 2-0 as an interim coach.

Scoreboard Watching
If you haven't noticed, nearly all the ACC is around .500. That is not good news for us in the bowl pecking order. What we need are some teams who will get selected before us to get eliminated. It would start with Georgia Tech, who take on Virginia. Also see how NC State and Duke do against opponents looking to put up big scores (Clemson and Notre Dame, respectively).

I hope to see...
BC pull away in the first half. At this point, nothing will change how I feel about Addazio, but another blow out win does take away a bit of the sting of our bad losses this year. It helps change perception of BC around College Football.

BC is in trouble if...
FSU confuses Grosel. Our OLine is too good and won't allow him to take a beating. So it is really up to FSU to give him a lot of looks and potentially make mistakes.

Bottom Line
FSU is a bad team and poorly coached. Under most circumstances I think we win with ease. However the coaching change is a wild card. I think (and hope) BC plays smart and well and runs away with the game.
Final Score: BC 35, FSU 20

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Florida State is reminder that BC is a good job

When BC makes its next football coaching change (a discussion point for a different time), there will be plenty of talk that "BC is a really tough job and no one would want it." I have always worked hard to shoot down this argument, but with BC facing an interim coach at Florida State this week, the difference between what is considered a good job and a bad in college football has never been more subjective.

Florida State fired Willie Taggart 2/3s of the way into his second season as head coach. His record in Tallahassee was 9-12. He will be paid handsomely but will never get as high profile a job again and never even got to bring in a full class of his recruits. And the Florida local, just lost his dream job. That -- in my opinion -- is a tough way to go.

Meanwhile Addazio is in Year 7. In that time he is only one game above .500, and 21-33 in ACC play. He has only won one bowl game. He's never won more than seven games. He's paid nearly three million annually. He gets to live in a great city. He may be under some internal pressure and hear from some whiny fans, but mostly gets to avoid the scrutiny that his peers in other P5 programs face. BC built him new facilities. The expectations are reasonable.

I don't know if Willie Taggart deserved to be fired. I've only seen bits of Florida State this year and what I saw looked like a mess. But my point is that where other schools are finicky and rash, BC can be patient and cautious. For a profession with some much chaos, the opportunity at BC should be appreciated.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Good Day: The good version of BC's offense destroys Syracuse

What a difference a week makes. Last week, Clemson embarrassed BC. This week it was BC's turn to make another team look hapless. BC put up 58 on Syracuse and it could have been more. It started with the Oline, but Bailey, Dillon and Grosel all made huge plays when given the chance. Syracuse looked lost and defeated. The BC D wasn't as dominant but had a good day by their standards.

The win moved BC that much closer to a bowl game. I think BC has more than enough talent on Offense to win all their remaining games. But can the D do just enough to make it happen?