Friday, October 28, 2011

Maryland Preview

Tomorrow's game against Maryland is going to be a battle for the bottom of the ACC.  Maryland comes into this game 2-5 (1-3) and BC, as we all know comes in at 1-6 (0-4).  So really, if we manage to win, then BC and Maryland will just be tied for worst teams in the ACC.  I am interested, however, to see how this game goes.  Much is made of the fact that Randy Edsall, Maryland's head coach, is a case of "always-the-bridesmaid" when it comes to BC after being passed over in the coaching "searches" in 2006 and 2009.   Could he be extra motivated to beat BC because he feels slighted?  It's possible, and I would not doubt it, emotions can often play important roles in college football games.  I think this is one of the last few winnable games left on BC's schedule this season.  A win in College Park could potentially give the team enough momentum to take down Florida State next Thursday.  My hope is that things finally fall into place tomorrow afternoon.  This game against Maryland is more akin to our first few games of the season, rather than Clemson and Virginia Tech.  BC was close against Duke, Wake, and Northwestern, so if things break our way, we could finally be on the right side this time around.

Five Keys to Beating Maryland:

1. Take advantage of the QB controversy- There are instances where a team not announcing its starting QB is a strategy to throw off the other team.  I do not believe this is the situation at Maryland right now.  I believe the decision of whether to start Danny O'Brien or CJ Brown is turning into a difficult one for Edsall and Crowton.  O'Brien has been struggling, but Brown does not have as much experience.  Disrupting the Maryland quarterback(s) and confusing them could give BC the edge in this situation.

2. Exploit their weak defense- Maryland's defense ranks 94th overall in points scored against.  This is actually worse than BC's defense right now.  Maryland may be the weakest defense we see all year and is certainly the weakest we have seen in the past few weeks.  My hope is that BC, which has been showing flashes of ability on offense, can exploit Maryland's weaknesses this week.  BC is tempered against stout defenses right now after playing Virginia Tech and Clemson in the last few weeks.  Still, BC was able to put points on the board against these two strong defenses.  Showing ability against strong defenses the last three weeks, BC should be able to put more scoring drives together against this Maryland defense.

3. Shut down the aerial attack-  Danny O'Brien has thrown for 1110 yards on 174 attempts this season.  CJ Brown has thrown for 361 on 78 attempts.  Although these numbers are a bit modest, it still showcases Maryland's spread attack.  If BC can force incompletions and interceptions and make Maryland run the ball, it can turn the game in BC's favor.  Maryland's leading rusher this season, Davin Meggett, is averaging just 4.8 yards per carry.  Forcing Maryland to run the ball could make a huge difference in this game.

4. Establish the run- BC has shown a strong run game in recent weeks.  The combination of Finch, Kimble and Williams has proven to be fairly lucrative in the absence of Montel Harris.  If BC can grind the ball out on the ground, while at the same time exhausting the already weak Maryland defense, BC will be able to score points.  A strong run game will also free up Chase Rettig's ability to pass more and take some of the pressure off of him to perform.

5. Consistency from Chase- Chase Rettig has been inconsistent this season.  When he is good, he is very good and can be a game changer, but when he makes bad decisions, it often results in third and long situations or fourth downs.  If Chase can show a little more patience and accuracy, BC can win this game.  Over the course of the season there have been moments of brilliance out of our passing game.  Chase's ability to be consistent with his throws and to make his passes catchable can swing the balance in this game.

BC has a chance here to get another win this season.  A loss against Maryland will mean the end of our bowl hopes (for those of us who are still hoping).  A win on the road could also be a confidence boost for the team going into the Florida State game and the end of the season.  If we play a complete game, on both sides of the ball, BC can win.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The New York Television Market

It is no secret anymore that the newest round of conference expansion is not being driven by rivalries or tradition, but rather television sets.  Conferences are expanding based on where they don't yet have people watching their football teams.  How else can you explain the SEC taking a school look Missouri over, say, a school like Clemson?  People are already watching SEC football in Spartanburg, they aren't watching SEC football in St. Louis or Kansas City.

One of the refrains I have heard constantly during the recent conference expansion is the question of which team can bring with it the New York media market, the #1 media market in the US.  Living in the Tri- State area I constantly hear Rutgers, UConn, and Syracuse promising that they can bring with them that market.  Statistically speaking, it seems Rutgers has the most fans living in that media market, much of that owing to Rutgers proximity to New York City.  A recent study by the New York Times confirmed this stating that:

"The most popular team in New York, for instance, is Rutgers.  They have about 600, 000 fans in New York City.  That isn't bad, but it represents only about 20 percent of college football fans in New York... It also represents only about 3 percent of New York's overall population."

So, it seems Rutgers has the most fans in New York City.  A conference hoping to secure the lion's share of that market would aim to bring Rutgers into the fold.  However, I want to focus in on the 20 percent part of that quotation.  Rutgers, although it ostensibly has the most fans in New York City, still only claims about 20% of the overall market.  Notre Dame claims about 9.2% of that market, according to the Times study, and Penn State about 6.4% (Boston College rounds out the top 10 most watched teams with about 2.1% of the college football watching population).  Although statistically Rutgers has the majority of the New York City market, I am not convinced that Rutgers, or any team for that matter, can really claim to bring with it the New York City market.

About two weeks ago I was at an outdoor beer garden in New York City.  The televisions that were on were tuned to Tennessee- LSU and Texas- Oklahoma State.  Among the patrons of the beer garden I spotted three Alabama supporters, two Texas supporters, and one each of LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Miami and Boston College.  The bar that BC alums watch games at this year is across the street from a bar where Arkansas fans watch their games.  Another BC bar on the Upper East Side was a popular spot for Ohio State fans to stop at on their way to and from their game watches up the block.  The point I am trying to make here is that no one school can claim that it brings the entire New York media market with them.

New York is the largest media market in the country.  A conference looking to expand into New York City would logically want to go after a school like Rutgers who can deliver television sets in New York. However, the fact is that there are about 2.9 million college football fans in New York.  And all of those college football fans have varying allegiances to one school or another.  While Rutgers may have the most number of people turning their televisions on to watch Rutgers football, there are still 2,300,000 people turning their televisions on to watch Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State or Arkansas. No one school can claim that it has the New York market.  New York is the last true melting pot in the United States.  As such, it is not made up just of Scarlet Knights and Huskies, but also of Buckeyes, Wolverines, Longhorns, Trojans, Ducks, and Tar Heels.  As they each strive to bring the New York market in, what conferences are failing to realize is that they already have it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Father Leahy and the Rumor Mill

Talking about the game this weekend isn't really worth it.  I was away from the television for most of the game Saturday, but was pretty shocked when I turned it on and the score was 7-3.  Luckily, I turned it on just in time to watch Virginia Tech march down the field to make it 7-6 before the half.  I will leave my commentary on the game there, because saying anything more will just make me upset and want to hurt something.  I think we all have a little bit of hope that we will somehow win out and become bowl eligible, though I expect that as soon as we drop to 7 losses, that will be it for this sinking ship.

Something that I've wanted to address is Father Leahy's relationship to the athletics department and the football team.  Many people in the blogosphere are under the impression that the only ranking Leahy cares about is the one in US News.  Arguably, they are probably right.  It is Father Leahy's job as University president to ensure that Boston College remains the excellent academic institution it is and to push the school to, pardon the pun, new heights.  As such, I am sure Father Leahy has more important things to be doing than checking in and making sure everything is going smoothly down at the Yawkey Center.  However, I am not sure that Father Leahy is totally separated from the athletics department, as some might suggest, but rather does keep his eye on what goes on down the road.

Following graduation, a few people I knew found jobs working at BC in various capacities, a few in the athletics department.  Every now and then I would ask what the climate in Yawkey was like, if there was any awareness about the message boards and various blogs and what was being said about the program, etc.  I began hearing more the idea that Father Leahy cared nothing about what went on in athletics so I finally asked a friend if this was true.  As it turns out, while Leahy does not oversee the athletics department the way Gene oversees the football team, Father Leahy is at the very least aware that the athletics department in general, but the football team specifically, is a national representation of the school.  Father Leahy is not all hands off with athletics, on the contrary, he is aware of the things that go on and appreciates the importance of the success of BC athletics program to the school and alumni.

If anything is taken away from this post, I hope that at the very least it is the knowledge that Father Leahy is very much involved with the athletics department and understands the importance athletics has to the school not just in terms of pride, but also in terms of perception and revenue.  Contrary to what many believe, Father Leahy is involved with the athletics program, his meeting with Spaz is testament to that, and hopefully Father Leahy is aware, just as we all are, that changes may need to be made if things do not get better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

5 Keys to Beat Virginia Tech

Going into Lane Stadium and winning is not an easy thing.  Currently, BC is 3-5 all time in Lane Stadium, the most recent win being the Miracle in Blacksburg.  Considering that BC is 1-5 going into this game and it is at Lane, I don't have high hopes for this game.  It's going to be a difficult path to victory, but here are what I think are 5 keys to either keeping it close or perhaps winning outright.

1. Make Logan Thomas Beat Us- Logan Thomas is not Tyrod Taylor.  If a passing play was not developing as expected, Taylor could beat you just as easily on his legs as he could with his arms.  Additionally, Virignia Tech offenses the last few years have been run heavy.  Between Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and now David Wilson, Virginia Tech has turned into a run first/ pass second team.  Wilson ranks up there in ability with Williams and Evans, and in many respects surpasses him.  If BC can limit his productivity, maybe play a little of that #1 run defense that we saw last year, and force Thomas to throw the ball, we may have a chance.  A lot of things can go wrong when a ball is in the air and if the defense can force incompletions and interceptions, things could go our way.

2. Establish as Strong Run Game- Our game against Clemson was one of the most complete run games that I have seen so far.  It was refreshing to see that, even without Montel, we were able to get production on the ground.  If BC can get some of that same production against the Virginia Tech defense, and take some pressure off of Chase's arm, then we could make things a little more difficult for the Hokies.  Running the ball down their throat, wearing out their defense and keeping Bud Foster's boys on the field could make a difference

3. Just Find an Offense- In our first few games, our offensive production was not necessarily limited, but it couldn't pull through when we needed it.  Last week, Chase was able to get some production in the passing game.  Coupled with the improvement out of our running backs, if we can put together even somewhat of a complete offensive attack we may finally see some production out of BC.

4. Convert on 3rd Down- So far in 2011 BC is 26 for 73 on third down, converting just over 25% of third downs.  In our past three games against Virginia Tech, Spaz's two games and the 2008 ACC Championship, BC has converted just 8 of 43 third downs or 18%.  The key here is to keep the Virginia Tech defense on the field.  BC's inability to sustain drives against Virginia Tech has been what has killed us in the past, it tires out our defense and lets Virginia Tech keep control of the time of possession.  If BC wants to have a chance against Virginia Tech, we need to convert and keep our drives alive and keep Bud Foster's defense on the field.

5. Take the Crowd Out of It- What makes Lane Stadium so "magical," is the home field advantage that the Virginia Tech crowd gives to it's team.  Lane Stadium is a loud, intimidating place to play football.  Tomorrow, I would love to see BC score early and silence the crowd.  In 2008, against Florida State, BC marched down the field in Tallahassee and silenced a Florida State Homecoming, "Blackout" crowd.  If BC can score early and even get some solid defensive stops to deflate the home crowd, Lane Stadium could become a much easier place to play for BC.

I am not sure that BC can go into Lane Stadium tomorrow and beat the Hokies.  My hope, however, is that a week off to refocus and prepare for Virginia Tech will have given BC the much needed rest they need to get things back on track.  Although I want BC to win, we may soon be approaching moral victory time, a close game against Virginia Tech could be a good sign with Maryland next week.  If BC can sustain its drives and force Logan Thomas to beat us through the air, BC could have a chance against Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Needed Break and the Next Few Weeks

BC needed this by week.  The past six weeks have seemed like nothing except bad news was coming out of the program.  Between losing games, the loss of Montel Harris for the season, and the constant stream of excuses coming from Spaz and Gene, being a BC fan was becoming downright depressing.  Furthermore, I am sure that the players needed the break.  It can't be easy to be giving your absolute maximum effort week  in and week out, only to lose to inferior opponents.  My hope is that the weekend off gave the players a chance to catch their breath, rest, and relax.  Sometimes all a team needs is a minute to step back and refocus themselves and things can turn around.

My hope is that BC can turn things around after their bye week.  Before the season started many people, including myself, saw the rest of the season after the bye week as a Murderer's Row.  Seven weeks in, while certainly a difficult stretch of games, Murderer's Row has become more of an "Aggravated Assault Row."  When looking back at the first half of the season, you begin to realize that BC was just one or two key plays away from winning games.  With the exception of the UCF or Clemson games, BC was often no more than a touchdown away from victory in the games we lost.  Although I have no reason to believe that the coaching staff has made the necessary adjustments and made the most of their two weeks to prepare for Virginia Tech, there is the hope that the weekend off gave the team a chance to catch their breath and realize that they are close to where they need to be.

The rest of the schedule is not easy, but there are games that are winnable.  NC State and Maryland can certainly go either for or against BC.  I think Spaz will step up to beat his former boss when NC State comes to Chestnut Hill.  Maryland, although they looked good against Clemson, has struggled.  Alumni Stadium, on a cold Thursday night in November, could be a stumbling block for a Florida State team that just isn't as good as people thought they were.  Against Notre Dame and Miami, well, funny things happen in rivalry games.

I have no reason to believe that BC will be able to turn things around for the second half of the season and, if I am honest with myself, expect us to lose most, if not all, of our second half games.  But, each new week brings hope and my hope is that a week off to rest and refocus will give BC the chance to get things back on the right track.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gene's Mouth

I may be a few days late with writing about this story, but the fallout is still a topic in the blogosphere and I heard Mike Leach and Jack Arute discussing the topic yesterday on their show on Rivals Radio on Sirius XM.  On Sunday, an article was published in the Boston Globe where Gene admitted to blocking UConn's bid for entrance in the Big East.  According to the article, Gene was quoted as saying:  

"We didn't want them in," he said "It was a matter of turf.  We wanted to be the New England team."

That BC is blocking UConn from entering the ACC should be no big surprise to anyone.  Bad blood as always existed between the two schools since BC left for the ACC and UConn sued BC, the University of Miami, DeFilippo, Leahy, and the ACC.  When it first came out that UConn was trying to gain admittance to the ACC and was being blocked, most BC fans knew, without saying anything or being told, that BC was probably the one's doing the blocking.  I have no problem with blocking UConn from the ACC and agree with DeFilippo that this is about turf.  BC wants to be the only New England team in a major BCS conference.  However, Gene said something that did not need to be said and certainly not said on the record.  His admittance that BC is actively blocking UConn's entrance to the ACC just gives UConn more fuel for its fire against BC.  

Gene's comments about UConn, however, were not the biggest news out of this article.  In the article, Gene is quoted once again, citing ESPN as the driving force behind the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, rather than other Big East schools:

The idea that ESPN is the one who dictated to the ACC what schools to add caused a whirlwind of outcry.  My initial reaction was one of face-to-palm.  It seemed that Gene was just drawing negative press to the ACC and, more importantly, to BC.  Soon after his comments, major media outlets such as the New York Times, CBS, and the Daily News picked up on the story, pointing to how major were Gene's comments.

It is not that what Gene said was particularly shocking, but it was simply that he said it.  I think most people, if they were honest with themselves, would be able to admit that ESPN exercises more power in the college football world than should be allowed.  Money from ESPN television deals has been a major driving force behind conference realignment.  With a nod and a wink, most people understood that expansion was being undertaken to pull in more media markets for each conference, perhaps with the tacit direction of ESPN. So when the Athletic Director of a major university in a major BCS conference is admitting publicly and on the record that ESPN was a part of the decision making process of which schools the ACC should add, it was a major story.  The comments immediately illicited accusations that ESPN was operating a monopoly and was in violation of anti- trust laws, not the first time this has happened to ESPN

The ACC, for its part, immediately went into damage control mode, stating that ESPN did not dictate the moves of the ACC's expansion.   A few days later after the original article appeared in the Boston Globe, Gene issued an apology, backhanded though it may have been, for his comments. 

I don't mind Gene's comments about blocking UConn.  I don't think he needed to state it publicly that he was actively blocking UConn, but at least he's looking after BC's best interests.  I am still divided on his comments regarding ESPN.  Was it the smart thing to state that ESPN was, from what it seems, involved in the decisions regarding ACC expansion?  Probably not, especially considering the ACC's quick statement refuting his comments.  But, it did point out the elephant in the room and was, to an extent, a breath of fresh air about what really is driving expansion and conference realignment.  My biggest complaint about Gene's comments is that it has brought negative attention on BC from the media, but perhaps this may be a wake up call to the board of trustees and other higher ups at BC to reign in their AD.  In the long run, I don't think this will have much of an effect on anything.  UConn fans will continue to complain that they are being slighted by the ACC because of BC (and ESPN) but that's their problem.  If there is anything positive to be taken out of this mess, it is the knowledge that Gene is at least keeping the Huskies out of the ACC. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


Since I graduated, there has only been one year that I have not purchased season tickets and that was the year right after I graduated, when I could buy tickets off of friends still at school.  Since then I have spent about $160 on season tickets each year.  Usually, I drive to and from Chestnut Hill for football games, which costs about $100 round trip in gas.  Add to this cost concessions at the game and maybe a trip to the bookstore or souvenir stand and you're looking at about $350 per weekend for me to see a football game.  I know many people spend just as much, sometimes more, sometimes less, to see BC play football each weekend.  We go because we are fans of the team and can't imagine spending a Saturday afternoon any other way, even when the team is on a 1-5 skid and the program's worst start since 1991.  This is why I, and many other fans, were so incensed at Gene DeFilippo's tweet this weekend prior to kickoff of the Clemson game:

"Very impressive to see ALL Clemson fans in their seats 10 minutes before kickoff, in time for the National Anthem."

The comment was a thinly veiled, not-so-subtle dig at BC fans and our notorious problem of not being in the stands in time for kick off.  Whether Gene is right or not, at a time when he is under such severe scrutiny for his mismanagement of the program and the abilities of his handpicked head coach who's seat gets hotter each day, this was neither the time nor place for a comment like this.

Let me state that I don't disagree with Gene that BC fans have a problem getting to the stands for kickoff.  It is well known among BC fans that attendance is an issue at football games.  It is often difficult to sell out Alumni Stadium unless the opponent is Notre Dame.  Furthermore, most fans do not even show up until midway through the first quarter.  The last game I was at, Duke, the student section was not even close to being filled by kickoff, much less by the end of the first quarter, but neither was the rest of the stadium.  Part of this is due to the product on the field, there just isn't any buzz around the program right now.  However even when Matt Ryan was on campus, BC still had similar attendance issues. But not all of this is the fault of the fans.  For a long time, BC fans have made suggestions to make the gameday experience at BC more fun and welcoming.  Much has been made about "Gestapo policing" by Boston Police and BCPD in tailgating areas prior to game time.  Furthermore, tailgating is strictly regulated to just two hours before and two hours after a game.  This severly limits time for people to enjoy socializing before kickoff.  As many people said in response to Gene's tweet "BC fans would be in their seats by kickoff too if they had seven hours to tailgate."

From my experience, tailgating before the game is not necessarily spent drinking to extremes.  Rather, it is spent having a drink at one tailgate with friends, before running to a different tailgate to see other friends.  Many people I know have the same sort of schedule prior to kickoff at BC: running from tailgate to tailgate to meet up with old friends and classmates.  Most games I've gone to since graduating, I am trying to make it to two, three, sometimes four tailgates.  Some people just aren't ready to go into the game by the time kickoff rolls around.

For years now, Gene and the BC administration have ignored suggestions to improve the gameday experience for fans.  Fans are there to watch the game, yes, that's what they bought tickets for and so should do their best to be in their seats by kickoff.  But the game is part of the greater game day experience that includes tailgating, seeing friends and being back on campus again and, perhaps, just reliving a little bit of the glory days.  Gene needs to realize this and slighting his fans, his customers, on Twitter is not the way to get people into their seats.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Where We Could (and Should) Be

Going into this weekend's game against Clemson, it's a bit difficult for me to get excited about this game, which is unfortunate because in past years, this game has often been one of my favorites.  I will admit that I have a soft spot for Clemson, while at BC I was on the rowing team and each spring break we would do spring training in Clemson.  In 2009, I was fortunate enough to go see a game in Death Valley and there is no place quite like it.  In past years much has been on the line in this game and more than once the outcome has decided who would win the Atlantic Division.  However, this year we sit at 1-4 as Clemson is steam rolling teams that in the preseason seemed unbeatable.  I'm almost looking forward to the weekend being over so that I can go back to rooting for Clemson again.

But one thing caught my eye today when I was reading the previews of this game.  Currently, Clemson is ranked #8 in both polls and this reminded me of something.  The last time BC played a #8 team, it was October 17th against Virginia Tech and we were ranked #2.  Yes, the Miracle in Blacksburg was played against a #8 team.  And this got me thinking some more and so I dug a little deeper.  In 2007, the October 7 polls had Boston College ranked #4.  That's right, four years ago, this weekend, we were the #4 team in the country, a spot currently held by Wisconsin.  It angers me that this is how far Boston College has fallen in such a short period of time when we could just as easily be in the same position this year as we were four years ago.

In 2007 and 2008 Boston College had a tremendous amount of potential.  Many have pointed out that we were brought to that threshold of breaking through as an elite program in the ACC and in the country.  We were rising to prominence on the national stage until the Jags Firing Debacle stopped us cold in our tracks.  Where could we be had things played out differently?  One need only look as far as Boise State and Oregon.

Nevermind whether Gene D. should have hired Chip Kelly or not, but four years ago Mike Bellotti, then the head coach of the Oregon Ducks, brought them to the #2 ranking in the country just two weeks after we vacated it ourselves.  The difference is that Oregon continued its upward trend.  After Bellotti resigned, Chip Kelly came into place and last year, while BC was floundering in the ACC, Kelly led the Ducks to the national championships game.  This year the Ducks are ranked #9, with a sole loss coming to #1 LSU.  Four years removed from when both programs held the #2 ranking in the same year, Oregon is still moving upward and keeps itself in the national title talk.  BC, by comparison, has languished behind, falling in the ACC and in the esteem of the college football world.  The unfortunate thing is, BC could just as easily be a high powered team the way Oregon is today.  What holds us back now, and has been holding us back these last three years, is a short sighted Athletic Director and and inept coaching staff.

The second program I look at when thinking of where BC could be today, if not for past missteps, is Boise State.  In 2005, BC played Boise State in the MPC Computers Bowl.  Although the record books officially show BC as the home team, the bowl game was played on the Blue Turf in Boise.  In that game, BC beat Boise State 27- 21.  Since that time the Broncos have gone, that's right, undefeated on the blue turf and since that game has lost just five total games in six years.  Six years ago, BC beat a team that since then has had two undefeated seasons, two one loss seasons, and year in and year out is considered the BCS buster from a non-AQ conference to make it to the national title game. Six years ago BC was talented enough to beat Boise State on their home field, something no team has done since, and yet today, people would scoff at the idea of BC even playing Boise State.

I have heard the argument that BC can't compete with the high powered teams because we have to recruit excellent athletes who are also excellent students.  Our ability to compete against high powered teams from large state schools is restricted due to our academic standards.  In the most recent US News & World Report rankings of national universities, Stanford University was ranked #5 in the nation which is actually worse than their #4 finish in the BCS rankings at the end of last year.  Stanford is an elite academic institution, on par with the Ivy Leagues, and yet they are able to reconcile recruiting gifted athletes and gifted students.  Again, just another example of the potential that Boston College could have that it just has not yet realized.

It is frustrating as a fan to look at the success of programs such as Oregon, Boise State, and Stanford and know full well that Boston College could just as easily be in the same position.  Just four years ago Boston College was knocking on the door of being an elite team each season just as Oregon and Boise State were at the same time.  The argument that academic standards are restricting the football success of BC is quickly dispelled by looking at the success of Stanford.  What is restricting BC is shortsightedness and inability.  Four years ago this week, Boston College was ranked #4 in both polls.  This week, we aren't even ranked #40.  BC can achieve success, it is something that we have done before.  If the Athletic Department does not allow our team to be governed by shortsightedness and ineptitude, then it won't be long until we are back competing for championships.

Monday, October 3, 2011


At one point on Saturday afternoon, following the loss to Wake Forest, three of the biggest Boston College sports blogs, ATL Eagle, BC Interruption, and Around the Res each featured headline posts exclaiming the same sentiment: Fire Spaz.  The "hash tag" #FireSpaz was all over twitter and more than a few of my friends' facebook status were calling for Spaz's head.  With a 1-4 start and heading into the difficult part of the schedule, it is hard to argue with this.  The talent is in place on this team, but the coaching staff and the Head Coach are failing to get this team to reach its full potential.

I was a senior when Jeff Jagodzinski was fired as head coach of BC and Frank Spaziani was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach.  I was skeptical of the hire, but was willing to give Spaz the benefit of the doubt.  He had dedicated ten years of his life to coaching BC football, stayed on through two different staffs, led BC to a bowl win against Navy and came recommended by current (Mark Herzlich) and former (Matt Ryan) players at the time of his hire.  When he entered his first year as the head coach there was buzz and a hope that Spaz could help get us to the next level, the threshold of which BC football had reached under Jagodzinski.  But those hopes were, at least for this blogger, by disastrous losses against Virginia Tech (-26 first half yards) and Clemson, where Spaz, when asked about what he expected in the second half, famously quipped "It could get ugly."

That year, 2009, BC went 8-5.  In 2010, BC went 7-6 with a five game losing streak in the middle of the season.  Frank Spaziani has lost one more game each year since he took over as head coach and is now 1-4 through five games.  Against FBS opponents he is 14-15 with the loss to Wake Forest putting him under .500.  Since taking over, against teams that finished the season with a .500 record or better, Frank Spaziani is a paltry 1-10.  In 2006, when Tom O'Brien left BC for NC State, Spaz was passed over for the head coaching job.  As many have said, what made him anymore qualified in 2009 than in 2006.  The fact is Gene DeFilippo felt jilted by Jeff Jagodzinski and hired Spaz because he was the safe hire and he knew he would finish his coaching career at BC.  Spaz was not hired because of his coaching abilities or because he could motivate players to win, Spaz was hired for his loyalty.  There is nothing wrong with hiring for loyalty, but there is something wrong when that is the only attribute that qualifies them.

When Spaz was first hired, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Since then I have found myself further and further pushed into the anti- Spaz camp.  At the beginning of this season I was firmly entrenched in the belief that BC would never again reach its full potential or compete in the ACC until Spaz was gone as head coach.  I wanted and hoped to be proven wrong about that, but Spaz has consistently shown over his years as head coach that he is patently unable to win football games.  His attitude is consistently defeatist, he exudes the opinion that "we are what we are," that is, that BC cannot compete against the upper tier teams, and constantly deflects the blame for losses from himself to, most often, the players.  What kind of coach does that?

Spaz has already lost the support of many alumni.  He is losing the support of the students. Rumors suggest that he is losing the support of the players.  If BC hopes to return to the days not just of Jagodzinski, but even of Tom O'Brien, a change needs to be made at the top of the program.  Frank Spaziani has done much for this football program and for that I will always be grateful as a BC fan.  But this football program is reaching lows not seen in 25 years and if BC wants to remain relevant and wants to break through to the next level, then Frank Spaziani needs to be removed.

The Bottom

I am hesitant to say that Boston College football has reached rock bottom since losing to Wake Forest this weekend, but that's only because I don't think we've reached it yet.  BC has now gone 1-4 in its first five games, the easy part of the schedule.  Many predicted that BC would be able to go, at worst, 3-2 through this stretch, while some even thought 4-1 or 5-0 was possible.  BC is losing games at a rate unprecedented in recent memory and it may only get worse in the coming weeks.  Looking at the schedule, the only games that seem winnable right now are against Maryland on October 29 and NC State on November 12 but then again, most people expected Northwestern, Duke, and Wake Forest to be winnable games.

The problems that have been in place all season were still present this weekend.  The offensive line play is sloppy.  Although Chase Rettig made more mistakes this weekend than he has in past games, it still doesn't help that there are defensive ends in the backfield from the moment the ball is snapped.  The defensive line is still not getting the penetration needed to force opposing quarterbacks to make mistakes.  For what it's worth, however, I thought that they did play better against Wake Forest but I am not sure whether to attribute that to Wake's offensive line or our defensive line.

The lone bright spot this weekend was the return of Montel Harris.  Yes he played last week, but we saw him return to true form this week.  Montel made a display Saturday of turning nothing into something, a talent that has become his trademark since playing at BC.  On his way to registering a 108 yard rushing performance, Montel also surpassed Derrick Knight as BC's all time rusher, with a total of 3,735 yards to this point.

With the loss to Wake Forest, BC is traveling down a very dangerous path.  1-11 is a very real possibility this season.  The damaging effects that a 1-11 season could have would not just effect our chance to make it to a bowl game this season.  A 1-11 season would effect recruiting, donations, and Athletic Department revenues.  The Athletic Department is already having difficulty selling tickets.  Group-on has been used to sell tickets to the public.  Prior to the season starting, season ticket holders were offered four additional tickets to either the Northwestern, Duke or UMass games, for free.  Trouble selling tickets means less people in the seats, which means less people buying concessions, buying souvenirs and making use of BC facilities.  Donations have also taken a hit over the last few years.  Many people I have talked to have stated they will not donate to the Flynn Fund until changes are made at the top of the program, myself included.  Recruiting can also suffer.  If a team isn't winning, high school players are not going to want to play there.  As a result, the talent level will dip making it that much more difficult for the team to compete in the ACC.

The threat of decreased revenues and donations, recuiting difficulties, to say nothing of the possibility of current players transferring or leaving early for the NFL (Kuechly) is what Boston College is currently facing if we continue down the path toward a 1-11 season.  Changes need to be made if there is a hope that things can turn around for Boston College.  Right now, I fully expect BC to be facing a losing season this year.  How bad this season could be is yet to be seen.  My hope is that a win this weekend in Clemson will be the turnaround the team needs to finish the season strong.  The reality could be a far different story