Atlantic Division Preview – The Case Against…Boston College

As college football season approaches, I noted how difficult it was to pick someone to win the ACC’s Atlantic Division. On the flip side, I could easily argue the case against every team. The “slow season” for Wolfpack news is an ideal time to explore this in more detail. Previously, we talked about Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Maryland. Today, we look at the newly hated Boston College Eagles.

Watching Boston College over the past two seasons has been a case of waiting for the other shoe to drop. To date, it’s still hovering in space. In 2007, all-world (and soon to be NFL Rookie of the Year) Matt Ryan repeatedly pulled wins out of his rectal orifice, ultimately leading the Eagles to the ACC championship game – where BC lost a rematch to Virginia Tech (who was the victim of Ryan’s most stunning regular season comeback), falling to the lowest bowl slot allowed under ACC rules. In 2008, a strong defensive front seven led by all-ACC first teamers B.J. Raji (another top ten NFL pick) and Mark Herzlich kept the Eagles in enough games to ultimately rebound from a dismal start, sweep a three game run at Florida State, at Wake Forest, and vs. Maryland, and repeat their ACC title game loss to Virginia Tech. Once again, they fell to the lowest bowl slot allowed by league rules, losing to barely bowl-eligible Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl.

Personally, I expected Boston College to fall precipitously in 2008 without Ryan. So why am I not once bitten, twice shy? Let me count the ways. First, there is organizational drama that would rival any program in the country. As awful as Lee Fowler is, he’s not even the worst athletic director in the Atlantic Division. That honor goes to “Crazy Gene” DeFilippo, who insanely fired Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing for the New York Jets head coaching job. That’s right, fired for talking to the NFL – the ultimate goal of pretty much every player and coach in Division I football.

The dumbest part of the whole saga is what a missed opportunity it was. Nobody expected Jagodzinski to actually get the job (which he didn’t). So, he was a virtual lock to come back for a third year. Think showcasing a two-time defending division champion coach who the NFL is interested in would be a great way to elevate your program’s profile, especially with recruits? Not if you’re Crazy Gene! The man’s a traitor! Off with his head! Unsurprisingly, top coaches on the market didn’t exactly line up around the block to work for this lunatic, and the job ultimately went to long-time assistant (who was passed over two years prior) Frank Spaziani. The key tacticians who molded Tom O’Brien’s stable of leftover talent (OC Steve Logan also left when Jagodzinski was fired) into championship contenders are both gone. The remaining upperclassmen have now been through two mass exoduses of coaching talent, despite performing quality work. That has to have an impact on team morale.

Speaking of upperclassmen, let’s talk about talent. The last remnants of solid recruiting and talent evaluation efforts from Tom O’Brien and company (most notably a very solid offensive line that should preview what NC State can expect from 2010-12) are still in the two deep – but much less so than the past two seasons. And the cupboard has most definitely not been replenished – for all of his on-field coaching acumen, Jagodzinski was an indifferent recruiter at best. For a small private school with no significant, natural talent pool to draw from, that’s a recipe for disaster. The reckoning might not fully arrive in 2009, but it almost certainly has to start.

Boston College’s rough offseason wasn’t limited to the coaching staff. Projected starting QB Dominique Davis transferred, leaving 25-year old former minor league pitcher David Shinskie as the starter by default. Catching Weinke-in-a-bottle is a “Hail Mary” move at best – one that was further complicated when Shinskie broke a rib recently. Even worse, the Eagles suffered twin blows to their linebacking corps, with the season status of both Mike McLaughlin (torn Achilles tendon) and Mark Herzlich (Ewing’s sarcoma) in serious doubt. With five tough games to start the 2009 ACC season (facing Clemson, Wake, FSU, VT, and NC State by October 17), the Eagles can’t afford a slow (or unhealthy) start.

History shows that you shouldn’t count Boston College out completely, especially in a division as unsettled as the ACC Atlantic. Certainly, there will be a “rally around the flag” effect to play harder for their sick leader Herzlich (to whom we send our best wishes and prayers for a complete recovery). But they have to be the least likely contender, and the team most likely to finish last in 2009.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

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6 Responses to Atlantic Division Preview – The Case Against…Boston College

  1. MP 08/25/2009 at 12:29 PM #

    Great post! I hope they finish last as many consecutive years as it takes to get huffy and leave the ACC. Never should have been invited into the ACC. It’s amazing that a team can have as much success in a conference as BC has in the ACC, yet be a “stain” on the conference. I hope BC fans provide decent support for their school from September – November because their (lack of) support in December/January is shameful, embarrassing. Good riddance, please!

  2. choppack1 08/25/2009 at 12:38 PM #

    Nice write up. BC should be picked to finish last or next to last in the conference, but as you rightly note – they somehow made an appearance in the championship game last year.

    This could be the year when it all falls apart. With the towel slung over his shoulder and the rah-rah style – Spaziani didn’t seem like HC material. However, he’s a solid DC and will likely bring an organizational know-how to the job…perhaps an organizational know how that Jags lacked.

    Of all the teams in the Atlantic, BC would appear least likely to end up in the ACC championship game. The article outlines their shortcomings well. Of course, I wouldn’t have thought they’d make it the championship last year either.

  3. tvp1 08/25/2009 at 12:58 PM #

    They won’t win the division, but I’m a little leery of writing BC off completely this year. They still have an outstanding O-line, two good running backs, and some players remaining at DE and in the secondary. Our game aside, they had a poor passing game last year but still made it to Tampa. I foresee a more gradual decline, like the gradual decline Wake is in right now.

    The move that will hurt them most of all, IMO, is hiring Gary Tranquill as OC. WTF? You may recall Tranquill from his VERY pedestrian stint as OC under Bunting a few years back. He had been out of football for a few years and is pushing 70. Seems like a terrible hire.

  4. tvp1 08/25/2009 at 1:03 PM #

    Also, spot on comments about DeFillipo. Any wonder that TOB wanted to get the hell away from this guy? Even Eagle in Atlanta, who usually sees the BC glass as 3/4 full, thought DeFillip was nuts and handled the situation horribly.

  5. Sam92 08/25/2009 at 1:25 PM #

    i’m still pretty optimistic about this year for N.C.State, and I think this is the year we turn the tables on B.C. (for good)

    besides, they deserve to suffer for firing Jags. Firing a college head coach for interviewing with the NFL is simply –> un-American

  6. 61Packer 08/25/2009 at 2:02 PM #

    You can sell me on BC being the least likely Atlantic Division team to end up in the ACC title game this December, but you’ll never sell me on ANYBODY in this league being a worse AD than our own Lee Fowler.

    BC continues to beat us in major sports in terms of ACC competition despite their location being a distinct disadvantage with travel, and I believe their overall major sports records under Gene DeFilippo are probably better than ours under Fowler, or at least no worse.

    No doubt TOB wanted to get away from his AD at BC, but TOB didn’t come here because of Lee Fowler.

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