Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tough end to a fun season

One quarter went as planned. The rest of the day did not. Ultimately our flaws were exposed by a skilled offensive team. I was frustrated with the defensive effort and defensive mistakes, but I am not going to be too critical of the loss or the performance. Remember TOB's first bowl team got hammered before going on his bowl streak. This was a refreshing season and provided a lot of highlights. In my opinion the team overachieved this year and that bodes well for the future.

I'll try to have my grades and second viewing thoughts up late New Year's Day.

In-game comments post: Independence Bowl

Before the season most felt that a bowl game would be a bonus. Now the game is actually here and it is an interesting matchup. Let's hope we get one more exciting game out of this team and one more big day out of Andre Williams. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Game Watches: Independence Bowl

I didn't receive much notice regarding Game Watches. If your local Chapter is hosting an event be sure to post it below. Until hockey season kicks into the postseason, this might be the last BC sports event to watch with your fellow fans. Enjoy!

Boston Game Watch
Warehouse Bar & Grille
40 Broad Street
Boston, MA 02109

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street,

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Twin Cities Game Watch
Downtown Minneapolis

Western Massachusetts Game Watch
Champions Sports Bar in Springfield Marriott

Sunday, December 29, 2013

BC-Arizona preview

One of the things I forgot about when your team goes bowling is how long the layoff feels. The Syracuse game seems like ages ago. Even though we got healthy, I don't know how much the layoff helps us. We were playing well when the season ended. Now we have to regroup and execute. I know Addazio will have the team pumped up for the game. The bigger question is will the OL and Andre have any rust?

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Next year the pseudo College Playoff starts. That probably means the end to all the bowls like this. Since the playoff begins with just four teams, these meaningless bowls will keep going for a few years, but eventually the playoff will expand to eight teams and then 16. With all that money going to the college football tournament, ESPN will not need to keep supporting this many bowls. This means fewer games for BC, but at the same time it is encouraging. We will never be rewarded or recognized in the current set up (for a variety of reasons). But we should encourage a system where we can play our way in. Plus the pressure created by the "playoff" will create a lot more instability with traditional powers. That pressure will leave opportunities for BC as the powers go through frequent coaching changes.

Three Simple Keys
1. Go big early. Arizona runs a 3-3-5. That means we should have huge size advantages in the run game. I say start the game with multiple Tight Ends and make them stop us.
2. Pass to keep the honest. I am sure they will try to duplicate Syracuse's strategy of crashing all the gaps to stop Andre. As we saw against Syracuse, that will open up big pass plays.
3. Don't let other guys beat us. Carey is going to get big numbers and Arizona is out to prove he's the best running back. While we obviously have to do our best to stop him, we cannot let other guys go off. This means play sound assignments, tackle well, bring pressure and all that "dude" stuff.

Gambling Notes
-- ESPN's projections favor Arizona by 11
-- Addazio is 1-0 in bowls
-- Rodriguez is 3-5 in bowl games
The current lines is BC+7.5

There are now 35 Bowl games. BC has played in 15 of them. We've played in three others that are no longer active. (This depends on who claims each defunct bowl's history.)

Scoreboard Watching
The only game that really matters (other than this one) is the BCS Championship. I don't care how you feel about Florida State, but we need them to win. It will be great for the conference and good for BC. It might seem lame to sell another school as part of your recruiting pitch, but it works. If Florida State wins, Addazio can go into homes and say "you'll play against the best team in the country and you can win a Championship from the ACC."

I hope to see...
Amidon and Rettig connect for at least one more big touchdown. Because of our record in the final Spaz years and because of Andre Wiliams' emergence this season, these two have been somewhat overlooked. They are going to finish their BC careers as the most productive QB-WR duo in school history. Congrats to both.

BC is in trouble if...
We drop catchable balls. Rettig's stats would have been better if the guys were able to hold on to all the passes that came their way. I think this game will be high scoring. We cannot let good plays go bad in this game. 

Bottom Line
My guess is neither Defensive Coordinator has slept well since this pairing was announced. Both teams offenses matchup very well against the opposing team's porous D. In a way I think it will be a bit like the Army game where BC just needs to hold serve for the first half and wait for them to stall out or make a mistake. I think it will be relatively high-scoring and we will wear them down in the end. Andre goes over 200+ yards and BC finishes the season 8-5.
Final Score: BC 35, Arizona 24

Saturday, December 28, 2013

VCU thumps Hoops and other links

Basketball employed a 2-3 zone for much of the first half against VCU and it worked. However, in the second half things fell apart. VCU kept breaking down our sets before we could get into the 2-3 and the rebounding was terrible. There is so much wrong right now, I don't know where to start. We've all sat throw disappointing BC teams and seasons, but I can't recall one BC team -- in any sport -- that regressed so much from one season to the next.

Addazio picked up another decommit. NJ Lineman Austin Stevens flipped from Kansas to BC.

The Hockey team crushed Penn State.

With Westbrook going down for a few weeks, Reggie Jackson's productivity and scoring should go up.

Friday, December 27, 2013

My thoughts on all the BC names floated for the UMass job

No one is asking me, but since the media is leaking a whole bunch of guys with BC-ties to the UMass job, I thought I would weigh in on the opening. The most surprising to me is Blauds promoting Spaz for the job. He mentioned "sources" saying Spaz is interested. My guess on his source is Spaz himself. Spaz even thinking about the UMass job was shocking. Retirement must be miserable if he wants to get back into the coaching game in Amherst. But that doesn't really matter. UMass is not hiring him for a variety of reasons. His age and his record at BC are the biggest factors. But with Spaz a non-factor, who should UMass hire?

A competitive UMass team is good for BC. Added interest in college football in the region is a good thing. Better high school development is a good thing. And a respectable, yet consistently beatable opponent on BC's schedule is always a good thing. I want them to make a good hire. If only so we don't have to keep reading why college football cannot work in Massachusetts.

Mark Whipple and Don Brown are both being mentioned too. I don't know enough about the UMass politics and history to know if they would rehire one of their old coaches. Both seem relatively safe hires and have proven themselves away from UMass. Despite the stats, I would hate to lose Brown now as we would probably have to scrap his system and rebuild one side of the ball again. I don't know where Brown stands, but if he wanted to be the head coach at UMass, would he have ever left years ago?

I have yet to read Jags' name for the job. Once again, I don't know the politics, but doubt UMass would want someone BC fired. I think Jags could do well there. He's never led a true rebuilding project, but I think he could get enough talent out of the northeast and midwest to win in the MAC. I also think he'd build a decent staff (just like he did at BC).

Of all the names, Jack Bicknell Jr. makes the most sense. He had college head coaching experience. He has multiple ties to the region. He now has solid NFL experience to sell to recruits. I know he interviewed there years ago and didn't get the job. They probably should have hired him then and should hire him now. He's a safe hire, can handle the job and doesn't come with any of the baggage that some of the other candidates have.

Bill McGovern interviewed with UMass in the past. He lacks the head coaching experience, but is probably the best recruiter of this bunch. Because of his success as a recruiter, he would probably leave UMass in a better place. However, I doubt he'll get serious interest this time around.

The most intriguing name associated with the search so far is John DeFilippo. To UMass fans he's just a young up and coming coach. To BC fans he'll always be the son of Coach Flip. I've heard that John is a good coach. But I will also never get past all the stuff I also heard about the two Flips assessing and gossiping about the different coaches and position coaches that BC interviewed over the years. It's all second hand information (and probably unfair of me) but I would never want him anywhere near the BC job. UMass can have him.

Arizona answers from a Wildcat fan

My BC guest blogger, Daved Dlott, had a friend of his jump in with answers to my questions. He's a U of A grad, so take this for what it is worth.

1. With the understanding that not all fans fall into their respective stereotype, what is the typical Arizona Wildcat fan? Is it someone who follows football just until basketball starts? If ASU is the party school, is Arizona the more serious? Do they have the bigger following in state?

U of A Fan: Arizona fans love their football as much as they love their basketball, but as the saying goes, the football teams seems to always be a day late and a dollar short. Wildcat Fans: Arizona will always be better than ASU in everything... call it sports, academics, partying, everything, even in a marble match up, and of course, Arizona is the more serious school. Arizona has the biggest following of any University in the United States!

2. What is the perception of BC in Arizona? For example, when I first moved to Georgia I still dealt with the occasional person who didn't realize that BC and BU were totally different schools. With the move to the ACC and Matt Ryan firmly in place with the Falcons, that doesn't happen as much any more. Is there general awareness and respect for BC among Arizona fans?

U of A Fan: In Arizona everyone thought Boston College was a Junior College until the Bowl Match ups were announced.

3. Most BC fans remember Rich Rodriquez teams from West Virginia. How is this team different from those? Do you think they will be able to stop Andre Williams? Are they excited enough about this game to fight through the potential cold and BC's bruising style?

U of A Fan: Of course Arizona can beat Boston College.Remember Arizona beat OREGON! Did I mention Arizona has a great running back named Ka'Deem Carey?! Did I mention Arizona has a great running back named Ka'Deem Carey?!

4. Who wins?

U of A Fan: Arizona wins 48-27
Williams rushes for 121 yds
Carey rushes for 250 yds

Tweets of the Week

Links you might have missed this week

The national basketball writers are starting to take note of the disappointing basketball season. CBS referenced past midseason firings in their assessment. Two of USA Today's writers picked BC for their most disappointing team.

Connecticut Lineman Anthony Palazzolo committed right before Christmas. He is Addazio's first 2015 recruit.

U.S. Soccer named McKenzie Meehan to their U-20 team.

York picked up a recruit for the 2016 class.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Guest Bloggers: Eagles in Arizona

I know just two BC alums in Arizona. As it happens, they both are fellow 1998 grads and both are diehard BC fans. Dave Dlott is one of my former roommates. Born and raised in New England, Dave moved to Phoenix 10 years ago. Jim Gruber is a Arizona native and was an editor at the Heights while I was at WZBC. I asked them the following questions to get a better understanding of the Wildcats, their fans and what to expect in the Independence Bowl.

1. With the understanding that not all fans fall into their respective stereotype, what is the typical Arizona Wildcat fan? Is it someone who follows football just until basketball starts? If ASU is the party school, is Arizona the more serious? Do they have the bigger following in state?

Dave Dlott: I asked one of my co-workers who went to U of A what he thought of U of A's matchup against BC. He didn't even know U of A made a bowl game. He said that he stopped paying attention to football once basketball season started. I think that sums up a typical Arizona Wildcat fan.

ASU may have the reputation as a party school, but U of A can party with the best of them. I have been on campus for U of A hoops and football games and they know how to have a good time.

I don't know which school has the bigger following. What I do know is that they can't stand each other. I didn't realize how big the U of A/ASU rivalry was until I got out here.

Jim Gruber: (I will try to answer this objectively and not from the perspective of a fan of my second-favorite college team, the Arizona State Sun Devils.) Sports are a big deal at the University of Arizona. While basketball is clearly the dominant sport at UA, I believe that’s a function of the reality that the Wildcats have in the last 30 years generally been great at hoops and mediocre in football. After 35 seasons in the Pac-10/12, UA still has never played in the Rose Bowl.

I believe that most sports fans in Arizona are football fans first and everything else comes in a distant second (for instance, the excitement surrounding the Suns’ recent playoff runs was dwarfed by the Cardinals 2009 Super Bowl trip). UA fans are no different. If the UA football team ever started winning at a clip similar to the basketball team, I think all the fan attention would move in that direction. As it stands now, your typical UA fan is knowledgeable about sports and savvy enough to quickly shift the conversation from football to basketball, at least when that person is having a discussion with an ASU fan.

As for the reputation of the two schools, ASU still has the rap of being the bigger party school, although the school’s president has really tried hard to change that over the past decade. UA has the higher US News ranking, for what that’s worth, but my understanding has always been that ASU was superior in certain disciplines such as engineering. ASU has the bigger following statewide and has a natural advantage due to its massive size (roughly 70,000 undergrads), although UA is by far the favorite team in Tucson and most of southern Arizona. As far as partying goes, ASU is probably bigger, but the kinds of things that take place at either of these two schools would make a Saturday night in the mods look like my two-year old daughter’s tea parties.

2. What is the perception of BC in Arizona? For example, when I first moved to Georgia I still dealt with the occasional person who didn't realize that BC and BU were totally different schools. With the move to the ACC and Matt Ryan firmly in place with the Falcons, that doesn't happen as much any more. Is there general awareness and respect for BC among Arizona fans?

Jim Gruber: Academically, I’d say the perception of Boston College in Arizona is a good one, and perhaps even better than the reputation BC enjoys in New England. People generally seem to see BC as a good school located in a part of the country known for good schools. Athletically, BC’s brand is still largely limited to Doug Flutie and perhaps Matt Ryan and now Andre Williams.

A couple years ago a co-worker who is a pretty big sports fan mentioned that he thought BC was in the Big East, and I remember another co-worker and huge sports fan who thought JOB was the BC hoops coach (during Year 8 of the Al Skinner era). Having Jared Dudley in town as a Phoenix Sun for a few years probably raised the profile of BC’s teams a little, and this bowl game will probably help somewhat too.

Dave Dlott: I don't think there is much respect for BC here in Arizona. Hopefully, that will change after the bowl game.

3. Most BC fans remember Rich Rodriquez teams from West Virginia. How is this team different from those? Do you think they will be able to stop Andre Williams? Are they excited enough about this game to fight through the potential cold and BC's bruising style?

Dave Dlott: This team is similar to Rich Rod's West Virginia teams. They run a spread offense, and they can put a lot of points on the board. They lit up Oregon a few weeks ago. They have an outstanding running back in Ka'deem Carey.

I don't think they will be able to stop Andre Williams, but I think they will slow him down, and they will force Rettig to air it out. BC will have to be able throw the ball to win.

Jim Gruber: My take is that RichRod’s spread in his second year at UA isn’t nearly as efficient as he’d like, and doesn’t yet compare to his great years at WVU with White and Slaton. Denker’s done a decent job at QB in his only season as the starter, but this offense functions better with a guy like White or even last year’s UA QB, Matt Scott, at the helm. The Wildcats have a couple highly-recruited QBs ready to take over next year, plus they get a lot of injured wideouts back.

As for controlling Andre Williams, the UA defense is an unusual 3-3-5 system that wasn’t great at stopping the run in 2013 and doesn’t match up well against a power run game like BC’s. They also have yet to play a team that uses the multiple tight ends and unbalanced lines that BC will throw at them on the ground (Stanford wasn’t on this year’s UA schedule). In short, I don’t think they will stop Williams. However, I expect their offense to have a lot of success moving the ball against the BC defense. I also think they’ll be up for the game and motivated to show that Ka’Deem Carey is better than Williams despite the Doak Walker and Heisman consideration that Williams received over Carey. For BC to win this game, we’ll need to keep the UA offense off the field with some long, sustained drives.

4. Who wins?

Dave Dlott: My wife and her siblings are U of A grads. I have a lot of friendly wagers with them on the game, so BC better win.

BC 27
U of A 24

Jim Gruber:  I've gotten more pessimistic as the game gets closer, but I can't pick against BC.

28-27, Eagles.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Looks like weather won't be a factor in the Independence Bowl

Brick is standing right in front of Shreveport.

Shreveport in December would never be confused for Iceland, but it can still be colder than many bowl destinations. Rain, sleet and even snow have been factors in the past Independence Bowls. When I found out that BC would be playing Arizona, I hoped we would get bad weather. So much for that. The forecast for December 31 is 54 degrees with 0% chance of rain. Now we cannot expect rain to slow the Wildcat spread or a chill to break their spirit. It will have to be Andre and our ground attack to break their spirit instead.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Basketball loses to Auburn, falls to 4-8

There was a time in the second half when you could see the basketball team playing hard and trying to climb back into the game. They cut it to eight with plenty of time, but then the defense couldn't get a stop. Auburn held on and won 77-67.  Aside from Hanlan, no one played particularly well. But the stats really don't matter at this point. This season is over. There will be no NCAA Tournament and now their record is so bad it will take a strong ACC record just to get into the NIT. What matters now is what should Brad Bates do about Steve Donahue.

I am not in the "Fire Donahue" camp yet. I don't necessarily have some great hope or great affinity for the coach. The pending mega-recruiting class in 2015 makes a decision necessary and imminent. My issue -- which I will explore in the coming weeks -- is what are the true alternatives. If we cannot get an A List coach, does it make more sense to force Donahue to make staffing changes? Has the team totally quit on him and tuned him out? I don't know. 

At this point it seems over. The season. The Donahue era. I just hope he and the players have enough pride to change the results. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Women's basketball wins and other links

Women's basketball defeated Holy Cross 77-60. The team is now 7-5.

Here is ESPN's breakdown of all the bowl games.

Keep an eye on Ben Howland. The former UCLA coach is taking time off but wants to coach again. Barring a turnaround, I think we will be in the market for a new coach. Howland would be a great fit.

Friday, December 20, 2013

BC-Notre Dame at Fenway is official!

It is happening! The new news is this would now supposedly be a Notre Dame home game. That is good in that it means BC won't give up a game at Alumni. The downside is that tickets will be split or Notre Dame fans will have a priority. As an Irish game it will also be on NBC instead of the ESPN/ABC family.

There will be plenty of issues ahead and complaints, but this should be a fun event. Mark your calendar and get on the ticket waiting list now!

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Playing Notre Dame at Fenway is a good thing

The Globe reported that Fenway Sports Group is in talks with BC about moving our 2015 Notre Dame game from Alumni to Fenway Park. There are some sensible objections and BC fan complaints, but I think BC should make this happen.

As soon as Notre Dame agreed to partial ACC membership, our relationship with them changed. While still the only other Catholic university playing FBS football, we were no longer going to be an annual opponent for the Irish. Going forward we are just part of their ACC rotation and will play them six out of every ten years. That's nice, but it is not longer special. We can still view them as a rival, but we will play them less often and they will just view us as another ACC team. Our chance (other than winning) to keep this series unique and passionate is to do special things. A game in Ireland has been tossed around for more than five years. But the logistics of that game are always a little daunting, especially given the ho-hum payout. Moving just one of our Notre Dame games from Alumni to Fenway spices things up. It would certainly generate local interest and media attention. Considering how hard we fight for attention now, playing at Fenway once seems like a no brainer. While Fenway has fewer seats, BC could still assure season ticket holders of tickets to the Fenway game and let the general public scramble for the remaining tickets.

We've had masses at Fenway and played plenty of hockey games there. Most BC fans in the area have probably been to the old park for multiple Sox games. I understand if the novelty has worn off. But a football game would be different. It would mark a return to our history and would bring out a big Irish and casual crowd who just want to say they were there. If the teams are decent, Gameday might cover it too. If the crowd is more divided than it might be for a traditional Notre Dame game at Alumni, so be it. The trade-off is worth it.

We've discussed all sorts of neutral site games with Notre Dame. We've also looked at bringing a game to Fenway. This solves both of those desires. If the only reasons not to do it are due to the politics of giving into the Irish or giving up a game, I say don't worry about it. We need to try new things and there is always risk in that. I think this would be a huge success home run.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Williams is an All American and other links

The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Football Writers' Association of America (FWAA) both named Andre Williams to their first-team All-America squads. Williams is only the 12th Eagle to make the first team. Nate Freese made the second team.

New commit Jonathan Hillman explained why he flipped from Rutgers to BC. Hopefully BC will pick up another commit or two based on other coaching changes.

Here's a feature on Nathan Gerbe.

Brian broke down the scholarship allotment and we are currently at 89. However, expect a lot of attrition after the bowl game.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More bad news on Clifford

It doesn't look like Dennis Clifford is going to save the season. The 7-footer continues to battle knee pain and the recovery from his surgeries is behind schedule

Prior to the season, I wanted Clifford to redshirt. I thought BC had enough depth to manage without him and that a full year off might help him finally get healthy. The redshirt would have helped roster balance too. 

Now that the season and Donahue's tenure are on the ropes, I really want Clifford to sit. Sure the team could use him, but by the time he is ready we could be in such a hole that his eligibility would all be wasted. Even in survival mode, I hope that Donahue and his staff consider Clifford's long-term potential when deciding how to manage him this season. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

BC needs to go hard after Tyler Murphy

Monday a little online controversy bubbled up over the status of former Florida QB Tyler Murphy. For those that didn't follow it, despite some frustration and confusion, Murphy is eligible to transfer and play immediately. Given his previous relationship with Addazio, BC is mentioned as one of his potential options. UConn and Louisville are also possible destinations. I don't feel the entire recruiting class nor the 2014 season depends on landing a 5th year transfer, but I do think Addazio needs to pull out all the stops to land Murphy.

Since we are all still riding the euphoric wave of the 2013 season, I don't know if anyone is looking at the reality of the 2014 season. We are losing a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. While the incoming talent is promising, starting an inexperienced QB is high risk. Murphy might not be as experienced as Rettig was this year but he's started more games than any other potential BC starter. He's faced SEC defenses. He's got his degree. He's from Connecticut. I don't think the transition to BC will rattle him. He'll be ready to play. His upside might not be huge, but he's a stable solution.

Even if he doesn't start, BC needs Murphy for depth too. Right now BC only has two definite QBs for the 2014 season: current redshirt James Walsh and incoming freshman Darius Wade. Josh Bordner remains eligible for a 5th year, but there has been no clear indication that he is coming back. All the Spaz QBs are gone or are leaving. Troy Flutie will get a shot at QB, but he's still young and raw. Any or all of these guys could be hurt or struggle. It would be nice to have one more veteran around.

Transfers -- especially 5th years -- also help Addazio bring in talent and balance out the roster.

Even if he never sees the field, Murphy would also serve as a great recruiting tool. Like Patchan, he would be another guy who followed Addazio. When new recruits visit BC, there is no better statement about what it is like to play for Addazio than seeing other players come to BC to play for him again.

Darius Wade is expected to be the future of BC football. I cannot wait to see him on campus. But having Murphy around next year might make things a little less rocky in 2014.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Basketball wins and other links

The basketball team beat Philadelphia on Sunday. They're a Division II team, so it doesn't do much for BC's resume. However, I am glad we finally won.

Matt Patchan turned out to be one of the key players of the season. It worked so well because he was immediately available and had a prior relationship with Addazio. Another Florida player just graduated early, is available and looking to transfer. This time it is QB Tyler Murphy. Speculation on his destinations include BC.

BC offered Evander Holyfield's son. As an example of the change in mindset, Holyfield is a 2016 prospect!

One columnist explained why he voted for Williams for Heisman.

Brian broke down the votes for Williams. I guessed that he would earn around 50 1st Place votes. He only received 29.

Williams and Arizona Running Back bonded on the award circuit.

Addazio flips Hillman from Rutgers to BC

After a relatively slow fall, BC is making recruiting news again. New Jersey Running Back Jonathan Hillman announced that he will attend BC. Previously Hillman verballed to Rutgers. The coaching staff shakeup there combined with BC's strong season and Andre Williams success, made the decision much easier for Hillman.

Addazio now has a loaded backfield coming on campus. Plus he's got Willis and Rouse returning. I doubt any of them approach Andre Williams' numbers next year, but as a group they might run more. We will also be a little more versatile and some of these guys can catch balls out of the backfield too.

I think BC still has a chance to flip a few more high-profile recruits. It should be an interesting recruiting season.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Williams finishes 4th in Heisman

Andre Williams finished fourth in the 2013 Heisman voting. As expected Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston won in a landslide. Williams deserves our thanks for an incredible and memorable season and for representing BC so well in this process.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Surprise teams and other links

The Big Lead named BC one of its surprise teams of the 2013.

BC head of HR, Leo Sullivan, announced his plan to step down from his position this spring. Sullivan will continue to advise Father Leahy. While Sullivan's influence reached well beyond sports, he was still a critical part of most of our recent searches I hope his replacement understands the importance of sports to the school's image.

Matt Hinton speaks the truth: "If you watched Boston College-New Mexico State over the Internet you deserve a Heisman vote because that is some fucking passion for the game."

Tweets of the Week

Watch Meter talk to Troy Flutie

Programming note: Friday morning at 10 AM NESN debuts "Life is Great New England." Meter is hosting and interviewing future Eagle Troy Flutie. I am sure it will focus on Flutie's record breaking high school career but I bet they will get into his plans for BC.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Basketball loses ACC opener

The final score of BC-Maryland doesn't indicate how the game played out. The team showed some heart and overcame an early Terps run. The second half was back and forth. But late in the game, just when BC needed stops, the defense fell apart. BC couldn't close the gap and lost again.

If you're looking for bright spots, Owens had a solid game. The team also keeps converting on their FTs. But the whole effort still remains incredibly frustrating to watch.

The team is now 3-7 and 0-1 in the ACC. That's a huge hole. I am going to hold out as long as possible before I give up on the season. Maybe the Philadelphia game this weekend will spark something.

National media criticizing hoops and other links

Tonight's game against Maryland represents BC's chance to turn things around. For now though, criticism is building. Yahoo called us the most disappointing team of the season. 

Heisman campaigns are not just about what happens on the field. The Sports Information Department ran with the project as soon as Andre started putting up his ridiculous stats.

Williams awards circuit begins tonight in Florida. He's expected to win the Doak Walker.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Building on the Heisman hype

When he came out of the Syracuse game with his shoulder injury, most of us realized that Andre would not win the Heisman. However, it was still very important to get him to ceremony in New York. Getting Andre to New York wasn't just a chance to recognize his great performance, it was also an unmatched opportunity for Addazio to sell the program. Just watch his interview this interview with CBS Sports. It starts with Andre but gets into the first year, BC's offense, the bowl and playing Florida State. Even their hosts say this is all an infomercial for BC.

Mistaken mistakes

There are going to be a lot of articles like this in the coming weeks. But using Donahue's struggles to rehash the Skinner firing is not fair to anyone involved. Was it a "mistake" to fire Skinner as Donaldson writes? Probably. But you cannot judge it as a mistake purely based on where BC is now. And connecting the two issues is pointless since the man responsible for firing Skinner and hiring Donahue is no longer in charge of BC Sports.

Attacking Donahue as it relates to Skinner is obvious and pointless. His record will be BC's and our gauge. What another coach did 13 years ago, shouldn't really mean much. Donahue should be judged on what he's done and where the program is going. The mistakes Bates should be focusing on is how Donahue misjudged his roster, schedule and ability to adapt.

Donahue's last chance to save his job begins tomorrow. He not only needs the win. He needs to show potential recruits and BC's leadership that he has has fixed and has learned from his mistakes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bowl gifts and other links

One of the reasons players love bowls, it that they are given free gifts legally under NCAA rules. Typically bowls hand out the hot electronic items of the season. The latest trend which the Independence Bowl is following is allowing the players access to a "Gift Suite." That way the player can pick his own gift(s) instead of getting whatever gadget the bowl wanted to give to everyone. Should be fun for the guys.

ESPN and the Local High School coaches named future Eagle Troy Flutie "Mr. Football."

SBNation poked a hole in the Carey vs Williams matchup. Don't take offense, BC fans. He's mocking the narrative, not Andre.

Here is a 20 year old scouting report of Arizona Football from Keanu Reeves.

Monday, December 09, 2013

I'm an idiot, Example 8,743: my prediction about Andre Williams

In general, I don't like to spend too much time commenting on my own writing. That sort of navel gazing doesn't make for good blogging. But every once in a while I write something that is so far off, that I feel compelled to explain or apologize. The most recent example was my prediction for Andre Williams' 2013 season. Instead of 500 yards, he put together the best single season rushing performance in BC history! Once again this proves, I am wrong, wrong, wrong an awful lot.

If you read back what I wrote in the summer, it wasn't a negative commentary on Williams. It was more about what our offense would look like. I never thought the line would come together and I never thought they would give Williams the ball so often. Credit to the players I misjudged and the coaches for coaching them up.

I want to congratulate Williams on his spectacular season once more. It has never been so fun to be so wrong.

Williams invited to Heisman ceremony in NYC

Andre Williams is a Heisman Finalist. Who would have ever thought of that before the season? Williams remains a long shot to win the award over FSU Quarterback Jameis Winston, but this is truly a case of being honored by the nomination. Williams is one of two running backs at the ceremony and the only one to break 2,000 yards. The Finalists are SEC heavy and QB heavy, so maybe there is an outside chance that a split vote favors Andre.

The presentation will be on ESPN this Saturday night. Addazio and Williams will both be there. It will be just one more opportunity to promote and represent BC to a national audience. I know it will be the first time I've watched the show in years.

Congratulations obviously go to Williams and his Offensive Line. Credit should also go the the Fullbacks, Tight Ends and WRs who also blocked for him. And to Rettig too for taking a back seat this season. The Football Staff deserve thanks for putting together an effective offense around Wiliams and Sports Information deserve credit for putting together a late season Heisman campaign.

I am prepared for Winston to win, but I will dream that Andre pulls the upset right up to when they open the envelope.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

This is not fun

The basketball team lost to USC Sunday. It didn't follow the established script for this BC season (shooting was the big issue today as opposed to just defense) but the feel is still the same. I hate using a subjective concept like "feel" to explain what's wrong but I don't know what else to do. Donahue is throwing anything he can up against the wall and it is not working. We have our moments, but once the other team goes on an extended run, we give up. The defense is primarily an issue of coaching and roster, but the guys don't seem to have any fight. 

Barring a miracle turnaround, Donahue is done. Does he have any answers and will the players fight for their coach? I don't know.

BC headed to Shreveport to face Arizona

The Independence Bowl -- currently known as the AdvoCare V100 Bowl -- selected BC for their 2013 edition. We will play Pac 12 at large team Arizona. Despite all my bemoaning of the date and location, this is still a good thing. I will have a lot more on the bowl and Arizona in the coming weeks, but let me share the best aspect of this arrangement: ESPN and Shreveport wanted BC in this game.

For years we've been told how undesirable we are for bowls. How this played out proves otherwise. Even though this is not a major bowl, this is the oldest bowl we've played in since the Cotton. Shreveport has good local support and wants the best possible match-up. It is not just a exhibition by the local CVB to bilk teams into buying tickets and guaranteeing hotel rooms. They wanted BC and they wanted an Andre Williams-Ka'Deem Carey face off. ESPN wanted us in this game too. While Brad Bates and I were loving the idea of BC on New Year's Day, ESPN just looked at it as a wasted opportunity. The Heart of Dallas Bowl gets low, low ratings because of its timeslot and ESPN U. The Independence Bowl kicks off a relatively busy bowl day and the first half of the game will be unopposed. It will get a big rating. We will hear "Williams vs Carey" over and over, especially when ESPN promotes the game during the earlier bowls.

This is good news and should be a good game. Remember if you do go, buy your tickets directly from BC.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Northern Illinois's loss helps BC

Northern Illinois lost in the MAC Championship Friday night. Prior to the game, everyone had them penciled into a BCS game. With the loss neither Norther Illinois or the team that beat them -- Bowling Green -- will be in one of the elite bowls. That's good news for BC but not in the obvious way. We're not suddenly going to a BCS bowl in their place. But another team from a major conference will and that will open yet another lower level bowl.

Right now BC is still in the mix for Shreveport and obviously Dallas. But the TV folks would rather have BC in one of the random bowls instead of Dallas. The Heart of Dallas Bowl is carried on ESPN U and on New Year's Day. For someone like me, that's no big deal. But ESPN the best ratings and audience numbers. Relegating a team from a big market with a decent regional following to a bowl on a channel without great national reach like ESPN U doesn't make sense for ESPN. They would rather have us in a pre New Year's Bowl on one of their main networks. Then the casual BC fans are more likely to watch.

We will know all the bowl news Sunday night. Right now it is a game of Musical Chairs. Odds say we are still going to Dallas, but if that is not where ESPN wants us, things can change.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Schedule filled and other links

According to an ESPN report, BC filled its open 2014 date with Colorado State. That might not fire up the casual fan, but it is a solid way to fill out the season. Next year will be filled with growing pains as we replace a QB and adjust the offense. Colorado State is the type of opponent that should be an underdog but will give us some credibility.
BC dominated UNH Friday. Six different Eagles scored.

The Women's Basketball team lost to Wisconsin on Thursday.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Andre at ESPN

As part of his Heisman campaign, Andre Williams spent most of Thursday on various ESPN platforms. He took part in shows, SportsCenter, podcasts and radio. These sort of things are not as easy as they look, but Williams handled himself very well. Given his humble nature, I don't know if Williams will ever be a media star, but he's clearly got a good head on his shoulders. We are very lucky to have him representing BC.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Purdue blows out Hoops in predictable fashion

I could write a recap of the Purdue loss but it would be a waste of time. BC got run off the court by a more physical team. BC again looked lost and disinterested on defense. The offensive numbers will look okay in a boxscore but won't reflect the feel or flow of the game. We are now getting to the point where the conversation will shift from "what can Donahue do?" to "what is Brad Bates going to do?"

I know the staff thinks they are close to a breakthrough. The players said all the right things in MSG last week. Someone needs to give this whole group a wake-up call. If they don't go on a huge run shortly they are all out.

The fake Cotton Bowl is better than the real Independence Bowl

The news of the day is that Bates is working the back channels to get BC into the Heart of Dallas Bowl instead of the ACC-affiliated Independence Bowl. This makes sense on so many level that I expect something to happen this weekend to screw it up.

Although the game is played in the actual Cotton Bowl, the actual Cotton Bowl game is now played in Jerry's World in Arlington. This game was created to keep the building full and justify its recent renovations. But the bowl has a lot going for it. First it is played in a major city with a decent BC Alumni population. Second it is played on January 1. While it may be the least important January 1 game, it would still allow BC to be part of the biggest day in college football. And 99% of our fans would have the day off and be able to watch it live.

Other than its confusing history and identity, the only real drawback to Dallas game would be the opponent. Due to the Conference USA affiliation, the other team is likely to be Rice or North Texas. However, there is no guarantee that the Independence Bowl will find a better opponent.

In theory the Independence Bowl could pair up its ACC rep with an at large Pac 12 team. That would be ideal, but I don't see it happening. The Independence Bowl needs to sell some tickets and BC vs Oregon State will bring no one to Shreveport. The more likely outcome it that the Independence Bowl backfills with another regional mid-major team that might sell tickets. That would leave BC in an undesirable location in an undesirable timeslot vs an unappealing opponent. Do you think we'd sell any tickets for that? Let Pitt or Syracuse bear the brunt of triple whammy.

Nitpicking aspects of bowls is a nice problem to have again. But if BC is playing Rice on New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl, I won't complain.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dude, Where's My Defense?

When Addazio started filling out his staff, I thought Don Brown was his best hire. Brown represented so many pluses in one coach: a veteran of the region, a known commodity to local high schools, a former head coach and best of all, an aggressive Defensive Coordinator who would change BC's whole mentality. Goodbye to 16 years of "bend but don't break." Hello to blitz anytime from anywhere. I also thought Don would be key to the inevitably rocky transition from Spaz to Addazio. With a relatively untested Offensive Coordinator in Ryan Day, I thought Brown would be able to "make lemonade" out of Spaz's leftovers and keep us in games this year. Like many of my predictions and expectations for this season, the opposite occurred.

While there was plenty to be excited about with the new BC Defense, the results in the first year weren't great: Here are the prime statistics:

  • 86th Nationally in Total Defense
  • 72nd Nationally in Scoring Defense
  • 81st Nationally in 3rd Down Conversion Defense
  • 103rd Nationally in Team Passing Efficiency Defense
  • 51st Nationally in Rushing Defense 
  • 14th in the ACC in Total Defense
  • 12th in the ACC Scoring Defense
  • 9th in the ACC in Rushing Defense
  • 14th in the ACC in Team Passing Efficiency Defense
  • 14th in the ACC in Team Passing Defense
  • 3rd in the ACC in Red Zone Defense

When you are last in the conference in Total Defense something is wrong. But I haven't lost hope in Brown. There are some explanations as to why BC struggled this year and some history that things will get better.

What happened?

In my opinion, at the most basic level, BC didn't have the talent or depth to run the defense Brown implemented. There wasn't a lot of speed up front and the DBs weren't recruited or coached to play aggressive single coverage under Spaz. The best part of the defensive roster -- the linebackers -- carried the team and created the most big plays.

I also think the group lacked an institutional knowledge to play the defense. One of the huge positives about running the same scheme year after year, is that it becomes second nature to everyone. Every DE knows where every Safety should be on each play and in each coverage. If a blitz is called off presnap, instinctively everyone knows his assignment. That is hard to create in just one year. Think of how lost even our smartest players looked against Villanova. If you look at a lot of the mistakes from Syracuse it is because guys are not where they are supposed to be. As the players get used to the system every year, we will rebuild the institutional knowledge.

Finally the tackling toward the end of the season was not great. That is not just a Don Brown issue. With something like tackling blame goes from Addazio to the position coaches to the S&C staff to the players themselves. I don't expect that to be an issue in the bowl game or next year.


Aside from the usual issues faced during a transition like confusion or the wrong type of players, I did have concerns about the results of our defense. We saw a welcome spike in sacks. But there weren't as many turnovers as you would expect. Why weren't opposing teams more confused? When you present that many different looks, a QB should end up making mistakes (think Logan Thomas). But too often we allowed QBs to complete a majority of their passes.

I also don't know or understand how Brown calls a game yet. I am sure things will become more familiar as we watch them more, but I could never see a pattern or consistent logic to the blitzes. That randomness may be intentional as to confuse the other team, but the results were iffy. And frustratingly there were plenty of games -- like Syracuse -- when constant pressure would work yet we stopped. I know it is old school, but I love the philosophy of keep doing something until the opponent proves they can stop it.

The Good News

Things will get better. Or at least they should if Brown's squads follow his pattern at previous FBS stops. While at UConn, his Defense went from 6th in the Big East in Total Defense in 2011 to 3rd in 2012. At Maryland Brown implemented this same scheme. In 2009 the Terps were 12th in the ACC in Total Defense. The next season they improved to 7th.

The other thing that gives me hope for the future was the dramatic improvement from a few select players. Edabali became a different player in this scheme. He made plays and wasn't just waiting for the action to come to him. Sylvia always had a good Football IQ but would often get exposed by the opposing offense. This year, before he got hurt, he was making big plays yet not allowing the killer deep passes as he did under Spaz.

Finally I think the overall talent will get better. When Spaz's defenses were at their best, it wasn't solely because of him. They were filled with all conference players and future NFLers. If BC brings in the right guys and coaches them up, Don Brown's defense won't be last in the conference.

I think keeping your coordinators is very important in college sports. Spaz showed that a revolving door only makes things worse. I still believe in Brown and hope that we eventually have the most aggressive and successful defense in the ACC.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cyber Monday: Vintage BC Poster Calendar

Stuck on what to buy a BC fan for Christmas? These Classic Posters in a BC Calendar make a great gift. The page for each month is a detachable poster too. The 2014 Calendar has program covers from BC vs Holy Cross, BC vs Villanova, and BC vs Marquette (football). If you buy through any of these links, you will receive a 10% discount. [Full Disclosure: I get a referral fee.]

How to buy:
1. Go to www.asgardpress.com, and use the promo code "atleagle13."


2. Just click on the link below.


(A heads-up, the site doesn't calculate the 10% discount until the very end, so don't worry when you don't see the discount when you put the calendar in your shopping cart.)
This offer is good now until February 1, 2013.

Don't get worked up over Bowl projections

There will be a ton of bowl projections this week. Don't read too much into any of them. BC is bowling but won't be going to a BCS game. That is the extent of what we know. Everything else is speculation at this point. Don't worry. Don't feel wronged if BC ends up in a bowl you've never heard of. None of that really matters. What matters is that we get one more game, the Seniors get a bowl trip and Addazio gets a chance to end the season on a winning note. Here is a little more about what we know.

It all depends on the Orange Bowl
The ACC is the Orange Bowl's partner. However, since Florida State seems headed for the Championship Game, the Orange Bowl can take two non-ACC teams. Speculation is mixed on if they will. Clemson's loss hurt, but there aren't that many better two-loss teams that will also travel to Miami. If the Orange Bowl passes on Clemson, that knocks down each ACC team one slot. But the offset of them picking a SEC or Pac 12 team is that it will open up another bowl slot elsewhere. BC is dealing at the lower end of bowl slots anyway, so does it really matter if we have the ninth ACC game or replace the ninth SEC team?

The Championship Games will mix everything up
All the bowl projections assume the favorites win this weekend. Do you ever want to count on that happening? BC is not in that mix, but each game has a ripple effect on us. Like the Orange Bowl scenario, the lower level bowls will backfill based on what happens with their member conferences' champions.

ESPN will take care of BC and the ACC
There is no scenario where BC is left out. ESPN owns and operates seven bowls. As of today three of them will have to replace a team. ESPN will always go with a bigger market team from the ACC over one from a midmajor. It makes sense for them to keep the ACC happy and it makes for better ratings.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Syracuse

If you play enough close games some are not going to break your way. At this point in his tenure and rebuild it is encouraging that we were in position to win this often. Watching back you realize how lucky we were. Syracuse moved the ball all day and would've had more yardage if not for some really short fields. I will defend Addazio's calls later in the post, but I didn't see anything in the second viewing to change my mind from the initial postgame reaction. The loss was really on the defense.

Offense: B

Rettig saved his best game for last. His passes in general were good (not sure what happened with Naples on the INT). And he had good awareness. The runs showed surprising speed and the TD was a great play. I will have more on his career in the coming weeks. It was never what it could have been, but I am glad he is ending on an upswing. I think you also saw a glimpse of what this offense might look like with a true runner at QB.

I felt for Williams. Syracuse was ready for him but I believe that if he hadn't been hurt he would have got his yards. Their D started to loosen up. His TD run was nice. Willis played well and showed good elusiveness. He did drop a catchable pass. Rouse was fine in his few carries. Sinkovec blocked well and his TD catch was nice.

Amidon had one of his better games even though he wasn't targeted as often. He made big plays and got open on critical third down conversion early. Dudeck had one pass near him and couldn't pull it in. Naples looked good and so did Parsons on their big catches.

The offensive line was really good again. Patchan moved well and got down field on Andre's TD. Vardaro was solid and did well coming out of the backfield. No mistakes from Gallik this week. Williams moved well. White was good too.

Syracuse loaded the box in probably the most aggressive approach yet and I thought we adjusted well. After we realized we weren't going to run over them with Andre, we opened things up with play action. We also used OLine in new ways (Patchan in the slot on bubble screen! Vardaro as fullback!). It was creative and had plenty of explosive plays. I will defend the goaline play calling later, but overall I thought the offensive gameplan and the adjustments during the game were good.

Defense: D

This was another rough game for the Dline. Edebali got tied up by the zone read option plenty of times. He made just one big play and missed some tackles. Wujciak and Appiah got pushed around inside. The best of the DL was Mihalik.

The LBs were the bright spot on D. KPL made a ton of plays early. We should have kept blitzing him off the edge as it was effective. Daniels played tough and cleaned up a lot of mistakes. It wasn't the best game from Divitto but his INT was huge. When it happened I thought the game was over.

Where to start with the DBs? Other than Sylvia and C.J. Jones, no one looked very good. Simmons missed four critical tackles that would have killed drives. I also think he was supposed to have the Tight End on their first TD. Bryce Jones missed some tackles and was soft in coverage. He also fell down again on a big third down. ALJ got beat plenty of times. Asprilla was playing too far off throughout. I also don't know what happened on some of the coverages. Total breakdown in communication and or assignments.

I am going to write more about Don Brown in the coming weeks, but this game was bad. Putting aside the missed tackles, I don't understand our approach many times. I don't know if he is doing things by feel or what he sees or if he is just winging it in an effort to keep them off balance. We went away from what was working (KPL blitzing) and never came back to bring effective pressure again. I also don't know how when the play is so common place, our guys had such trouble with the zone read option. Even on the final drive there was no effort to mix it up or confuse. I don't know what happened.

Special Teams: C+

I found Syracuse's decision to kickoff short surprising but effective. Were they that afraid of Willis as a return man? Or maybe that confident that we would take advantage of a short field? My only complaint is that even after the first time they did it, the upmen (mainly Wolford) didn't try to return it. Willis was fine on the returns he had.

I was glad to see Spiffy back, although he wasn't able to do much on his one punt.

Freese's punts were not that great and hurt our punt coverage. On their biggest return, his punt was so low that our guys didn't have time to get down field. Obviously his kickoffs and field goal were good.

Overall: C+

There has been a lot of Armchair Quarterbacking regarding the third down pass on our final drive. I will defend the call to the hilt (the execution was a different issue). First of all, you need to pass there. We tried two runs and forced them to burn their remaining time outs. But they are still expecting and loading up for the run. They've been fairly effective at stopping it. One more run (assuming no fumbles) is unlikely to get a TD. It leaves you still kicking a short field goal and takes off an additional 40 seconds. However, the aggressive and in my opinion correct move, is throwing. The throw is more likely to lead to a touchdown. I would have liked to see Rettig put the throw in the endzone, but he said (and watching it back showed) that Naples was part of his progression. He makes the throw on the short side of the field. Naples catches it but cannot turn up field, cannot break a tackle and worst of all cannot stay in bounds. That invites the second guessing. But that doesn't mean it was the wrong call. If Naples gets the TD, Day and Addazio are geniuses. Instead they got a stoppage and gave Cuse more time. In college football time is rarely an issue. With the way our defense was playing, I think we needed the TD. Taking off another 40 seconds wouldn't have changed Syracuse's ability to get down field. Their first big completion on their final drive took all of six seconds. The play with the pass interference five seconds plus a stoppage. I know they scored with 12 seconds left, but that was only because they used all the time they had. I feel like they could've just as easily moved the ball with less time.

To give you some hindsight on why the aggressive play was the right call even though it was the wrong outcome, look at our sequence right before the half. Instead of regrouping or even playing it safe with runs, we went deep on the pass to Amidon. Addazio's been aggressive for the most part this year and it has paid off. I am glad he threw it there.

Overall I thought he managed the game well. We have a gimpy Williams and eventually lose him, yet the offense still moved the ball. We also kept our poise and gameplan after going down 14.

This was a tough one because we could have won. However, you cannot allow 480 yards and allow them to convert 66% of their third downs and still expect to win.

I am disappointed as I would be with any win, but I am not going to kill him for this. The team has come a long way and he now has another month of football to end the season on a high note.