Friday, January 31, 2014

Real rivalry renewed

BC scheduled a two-game football series with Holy Cross for 2018 and 2020. This is great news for those who love BC history and for those who want us to schedule wisely.

We have rivalries with Notre Dame and history with plenty of opponents. But our only true historical rival is Holy Cross. Not playing and the changing demographics of the two schools have ended what was THE "game" among Eastern Massachusetts Catholics. Ending the series made sense once Holy Cross stop offering scholarships and BC stopped playing DIAA (now FCS) teams. But the pendulum has swung back. Everyone plays FCS and Holy Cross and some of their conference mates are back to offering scholarships.

I would prefer a tough schedule filled with the best teams in college football. But that is not how the system works. If we have to play one FCS team a year, I want it to be a team that generates some excitement. This game will be fun and should bring out a decent amount of Holy Cross. This is a good for everyone involved.

No narrative needed

Thursday Brian took apart  Vega's article on Donahue's scheduling. I understand his stance. There is a narrative being shaped to defend Donahue's tenure in an effort to give him one more year at BC. But unlike past narratives, I don't think this has BC's fingerprints on it. If anything, I think it was just a case of Vega serving up a softball to a coach he likes. Other writers and bloggers (including me) have done the same with coaches they like or wanted to defend. But despite Vega's work or a few tweets from BC Basketball's account, I don't think anyone who matters is out trying to shape a defense of Donahue. In fact, I would say it is just the opposite. Everyone I gossip with either says nothing or says he's a goner. Notice there were no quotes from Bates about Donahue and he also avoided the topic at the Town Hall. As I've said all along, barring some miracle finish, Donahue will not be BC's coach next year.

As for the narrative, it is only natural. It happens in all walks of media reporting. But it is never really needed in sports. We have wins and losses to clear through the subjective. When Donahue is fired, it won't be because of the schedule or the injuries or the rule changes. It will be because of his record. All those issue might have been factors in his record, but every coaching situation has its issues. It is how you overcome those issues that really matters. That's the beauty of sports. It can be brutal and rarely fair, but there is a clear shared measurement. There is no narrative needed.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Interest heating up for BC recruit and other links

When BC offered Georgia QB/Athlete A.J. Bush, I thought we would get him. At the time we were the biggest program involved. Now Nebraska is involved and wants him as a QB. That is going to be a tough sell for BC to overcome. We want him as a WR.

Navy hired TOB's son and BC grad Dan O'Brien as a Linebacker's coach.

Matt Ryan -- the basketball prospect -- now has interest from North Carolina. Depending on who is coaching BC next fall, I think we could still be involved with the 2015 big man.

Expectations are high for Myles Willis for the 2014 season.

The NFL invited Matt Patchan to the Combine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BC blows out VT

BC used its timeoff to tighten their D and improve their 3-point shooting. Or that's what it felt like as they blew away Virginia Tech Wednesday. Anderson led the defensive effort, but the real surprise was Heckmann's 14 points, 12 of which came from long distance. It was nice to win, but I still don't know what to make of it. Virginia Tech is terrible.

This should be the type of win that gives us hope. This should be the type of win that justifies Donahue's defensiveness. But I am not counting on anything. Go into Notre Dame and beat a decent team and then we can put some credence into Wednesday's resurgence.

Donahue talks non-conference schedule

Steve Donahue has not been shy about the mistake he made with BC's nonconference schedule. Many (myself included) thought it would pay off with a NCAA Tournament appearance. But that is not the problem now. The non-conference slate was something that could have been manipulated. The ACC schedule could not. We still look incapable of competing in the conference. That's the problem. If Donahue wants us to excuse the terrible non-conference performance, he needs to start winning ACC games.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Union movement just another sign that College Sports will change

The big college news of the day was Northwestern players attempting to unionize. I am not a lawyer or labor expert so I don't know how this case will play out (follow Warren Zola for a better read). But I think this case along with the Ed O'Bannon suit are just more signs that the current NCAA model will not last. There is just too much money changing hands and not enough going to the players. Lawyers are circling and someone will find an angle and case. The same thing happened in baseball. Curt Flood didn't win his case, but it opened the floodgates for future baseball free agency.

I love college sports, but I don't think the system is fair. Eventually players are going to get paid. For most of the factories this won't be an issue. They will pay and not think twice about it. I always wonder how BC will handle it. I don't think we will lack funds. I just wonder if we will think better of crossing the line. But until we know what the system is, it is really hard for any person or school to take a stand.

While I would like BC to take a leadership position on the issue, ultimately working the channels with like-minded universities is probably the best strategy. If history is any indicator, BC will endorse the same model that schools like Notre Dame, Duke, Syracuse and others advocate.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Addazio's roster management

While bringing in the last few commitments is generally good news, it does raise one issue for Addazio going forward. Should the coach max out on scholarship players this signing period or save a little space for early enrollees in the 2015 class?

As it stands now, BC has 27 commitments in this class. NCAA requirements only allow for 25 scholarships in any given recruiting class, however, five of this year's class are early enrollees. Those guys -- already on campus -- count towards the 2013 class. Using NCAA math, that leaves BC with three early enrollee slots for 2015. Any new recruits who sign this cycle cut into the space Addazio would have next Spring for early entry.

Entering college early is no longer a fad. It is a recruiting tool to offer your best or most interested prospects. You sell them on the leg up they get by participating in spring ball. Players of all types have jumped at the chance to enroll early. BC has used the policy in varying degrees over the past seven seasons. Anthony Castanzo and Chase Rettig are probably the early enrollees who had the greatest impact on the program. The others are a mixed bag. Regardless of the success, there really is no downside to early enrollees. In fact at a place like BC that places a premium on graduation, the extra semester helps the players' credits too. If BC doesn't have any openings in 2015, they will have one less recruiting tool.

But as valuable as that time is to potential players, winning will always be a bigger recruiting tool. One flyer going to a marginal prospect right now may pay off next September. BC will be young and thin this Fall. If Addazio thinks he can get something out of someone right now, it is a risk worth taking. The known of a player now outweighs the unknown of a potential early enrollee in 2015.

I criticized Spaz endlessly for "banking" scholarships. I appreciated that the banking usually ended up rewarding a walk-on, I still think it put the team at a disadvantage. Why go into a fight with one hand tied behind your back? Places like Penn State and USC did everything they could to manipulate their rosters around scholarship sanctions. I never understood why BC would voluntarily not maximize our roster.

I am not going to hammer Addazio either way on this round of scholarships. Given churn and attrition the 2015 Class will be big too. However, the key is winning and I think every last player can help.

UPDATE: Reader Scott mentioned in the comments that early enrollees can count towards either class. So we could have early enrollees in January 2015 and those scholarships could be part of the 2015 class if the 2014 class is considered "full."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Guest Blog: Tim Epstein on NCAA rules and show clauses

"After last week's post on Bruce Pearl, Tim Epstein '99 and I had an offline conversation regarding show clauses and NCAA penalties. Tim, who teaches sports law and runs a sports law group, agreed to clarify some of the issues. His explanations run below."

What is a show-cause penalty and what does it entail?
-- NCAA bylaw 19.02.03: Show-Cause Order. A show-cause order is an order that requires a member institution (i.e. school or conference) to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Committee on Infractions (“COI”) why it should not be subject to a penalty or additional penalty for not taking appropriate disciplinary or corrective action with regard to an institutional staff member or representative of the institution’s athletics interests found by the Committee as having been involved in a violation of the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws.

This rule potentially leaves any school that wishes to employ an individual subject to a show-cause order, within the term of said show-cause order, to potential NCAA penalties at the institutional level. Therefore, if a school wishes to hire Bruce Pearl prior to the conclusion of his show-cause penalty, the school that hires him could face NCAA penalties based on Pearl’s NCAA violations while he was at Tennessee.

As a result, if BC hires Bruce Pearl as head coach and fails to show-cause for hiring him, BC could face NCAA penalties for violations that occurred while Pearl worked at a different school both in the form of

Pearl's penalties remaining in place as well as additional sanctions on BC.
So, to clear up a couple misconceptions: (1) a show-cause order does not require a NCAA member institution to fire the employee, nor does it (2) serve as a ban against a member institution from hiring the penalized coach/staff member.

What was the actual penalty against Bruce Pearl and the reason for the penalty?

Pearl received a three-year show-cause order, and three of his assistants were given one-year show-cause penalties. The COI singled out Pearl and his staff for giving misleading information about a cookout in 2008 that involved a junior in high school (current Ohio State guard Aaron Craft). Craft was on an unofficial visit and was not allowed to be at Pearl's home. The COI noted that Pearl said that attendance at the cookout was an NCAA violation and encouraged those who were there not to disclose it to others. Pearl then lied about the incident and called Craft's father to ask him to do so as well before finally telling the truth to NCAA investigators.

Pearl’s show cause penalty expires Aug. 23, 2014.

How would hiring Bruce Pearl prior to the expiration of his show cause penalty effect BC?

If BC wishes to hire Bruce Pearl before the expiration, BC must appear before the COI to show cause why BC should not be subject to penalties for hiring Bruce Pearl prior to the conclusion of his show-cause order.
If BC fails to show cause for hiring Pearl, (1) Pearl's current penalty would continue through the expiration date of the show-cause order, and (2) BC could face additional disciplinary actions and penalties from the COI.

Therefore, the far majority of the time, a member institution will not hire an individual currently serving out a show-cause penalty.

Would Bruce Pearl’s past transgressions still be penalized now?

Yes it would be. 13.02.4 defines what a contact is. A contact is any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s parents, relatives or legal guardians and an institutional staff member or athletics representative during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting. Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged (e.g., staff member positions himself or herself in a location where contact is possible) or that takes place on the grounds of the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or at the site of organized competition or practice involving the prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s high school, preparatory school, two-year college or all-star team shall be considered a contact, regardless of whether any conversation occurs. However, an institutional staff member or athletics representative who is approached by a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s parents, relatives or legal guardians at any location shall not be regarded as a contact, provided the encounter was not prearranged and the staff member or athletics representative does not engage in any dialogue in excess of a greeting and takes appropriate steps to immediately terminate the encounter. (Revised: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94)

NCAA Bylaw in men’s basketball, off-campus recruiting of contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his relatives or legal guardians) before the opening day of his junior year in high school.

Contacts that occur during a prospective student-athlete’s junior year during recruiting periods other than the April recruiting period may occur only at the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution. During the April recruiting period of a prospective student-athlete’s junior year, contacts may occur at either the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or residence. (Adopted: 10/27/11 effective 8/1/12)

At the time of Aaron Craft’s unofficial visit he was only in 11th grade. Therefore, the barbeque at Bruce Pearl’s house would still be a NCAA violation today, as would Pearl’s lying to NCAA investigators.
What may have changed if the violation occurred in 2014 is that the penalty levied against Pearl would have been shorter in duration.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chase Rettig's future

Even if he lights it up at this all-star game (h/t BCI) and BC's Pro Day, Chase Rettig won't get drafted. That is not necessarily a knock on him. It is about value and perception. If the gurus consider him the 22nd best QB in the class, it is unlikely that any team is going to use a pick on him. Why waste a pick when they can sign him as a free agent? I've always been one of Chase's biggest believers and think he can be a 3rd and/or Practice Squad QB next year. All he needs is just one team to give him a shot and then make the most of the shot. This is why I think he will succeed in this process.

Picking up a new offense
The revolving door of Offensive Coordinators at BC certainly stunted Rettig's college career. When philosophies and approaches change every season, the offense never become second nature to anyone. That hurts blocking and timing in the passing game. Yet through each change, you never heard of Rettig struggling to learn or connect with his new coordinator. If anything it was the opposite. He picked it up early and impressed the coaches. When he gets into camp Rettig will have a leg up on the guys who have only played in one system their whole career. 

Having to make tight throws and tough decisions
We can all rattle off bad plays and bad throws Rettig made over the years. But as we all know, many of those decisions and throws were under duress or Rettig trying to do too much. In the NFL the speed of the game is a huge adjustment point. Because our line was in shambles his first few years, Rettig is used to throwing quickly and in a tight spot.

The odds are long for Rettig as they are for any prospect. But he showed he can survive in college. Let's hope that same perseverance pays off at the next level. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reading into the Pearl media narrative

Bruce Pearl got the featured spot in Seth Davis' latest column. Of course BC is the first school mentioned as a possible destination. There is also reference to SEC schools and even a return to Tennessee. Pearl then goes into great lengths to explain his situation and how he has so many reasons not to return to coaching (family, comfort in Knoxville, etc.). I don't doubt that family is a factor in his decision. But I do doubt that it will keep him from coaching again. I think as with this CBS column, Pearl is really just laying out the factors to a potential return and preemptively saving face if he is still blackballed by major programs. You don't cooperate with these sorts of columns unless you want your name out there and want to be mentioned as a coach. But does any of this matter to BC?

I don't think Pearl is bold enough to drop the BC reference to Seth Davis. Davis isn't dumb. He's probably just putting two and two together and rehashing gossip and speculation. Pearl is out there and his Alma mater's team is floundering. It is only natural to link the two. However, that still doesn't mean that BC will approach Pearl or that Pearl would take the job. Pearl has baggage and that matters to some vocal factions at BC. In the coming weeks I will write more about Pearl and BC, but for now know that he is talking about a return to coaching because he wants to coach a major program again.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gut reaction to 2014 Schedule

We've known who BC was going to play for some time. But today BC and the ACC released the official schedule with dates. Here are my initial reactions:

  • The schedule is much more balanced than last year. There is no killer stretch. If you had to pick the toughest area it would probably be three road games in four weeks with Clemson in the middle.
  • Having an off week before Florida State is nice.  The defending champs are going to be really good next year too. We will be underdogs, but at least we have a week off to prepare.
  • Another Friday game to open the home slate. I know I like Friday games more than actual ticket holders, but Pitt on a Friday after playing in Gillette is not bad. 
  • We can go bowling with this schedule. Because of all the departures, expectations will be low. But seeing the schedule on paper and how it plays out, this team can get to six wins. UMass and Maine are near automatics. We will probably be favored against Colorado State. I don't expect to beat FSU. If we can split with Wake, Pitt, Syracuse and NC State and steal one from the VT, Clemson Louisville, USC group, we can be in the post season again.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hockey wins; Let's not talk about Basketball

Despite playing on the road on a Tuesday night, the Hockey team beat Merrimack 4-1. Gaudreau kept his scoring streak alive and the team extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games.

Back at home things weren't as good. Basketball hosted a terrible Georgia Tech team in front of a lot of empty seats at Conte. Did they build on their recent momentum? Did they jump on a bad team? Did Hanlan build off of his career day against the Jackets? Of course not. Instead they played some of the worst D we've seen in the Donahue era and fell way behind. Lonnie Jackson got hot in the second half to make it interesting, but BC faded (again) and lost by 8. It was terrible loss on many fronts. I will have more on it in the coming days.

THass on staying local and other links

I am not sure why ESPN asked Tim Hasselbeck about his college decision, but it makes sense. Like all of our other recruiting issues with New England, I never understood why more guys didn't have local pride and/or a desire to stay home.
This is not BC-specific, but it is an interesting read on Creighton's prolific 3-point attack. It is too late to adjust midseason (and probably too late for his time at BC) but I feel like something this overt would have served Donahue well, instead of our current motion offense with an emphasis on outside shooting.

We are not the only ACC team that will start a Florida QB this fall.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is the Northeast a better recruiting territory than we realize?

The above map was part of a series posted on Deadspin Monday. It is a per capita display of where college football players come from. If you look at their other maps you will see that the Northeast (for this purpose Washington, D.C. north) produces a lot of college football players. I used the per capita map to show that even though this area is densely populated, it is not a wasteland that some make it out to be. New Jersey remains the focal point of the region.

Obviously parts of New England are barren, but the maps does show that Massachusetts and Connecticut produce relatively in line with other areas that people would assume are better (Western PA, pockets of the Midwest, large swaths of California).

Where players come from doesn't tell the whole story. The type of talent is a factor that the map doesn't cover. Aside from the mythical speed in other areas, I would say that many prospects in New England and the Northeast lack skills and would benefit from better year-round programs and better high school competition. But considering it is only our base and we continue to recruit the Midwest and Southeast, I would say BC is not as disadvantaged geographically as some assume.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Louis-Jean declares for NFL Draft

BCI first tweeted it out, but Albert Louis-Jean declared for the NFL Draft. On the surface it is a curious move since ALJ never lived up to his high school recruiting ratings and never showed NFL potential in his two seasons at BC. But given the hot water he had with coaches (suspended for Nova and missing the Bowl), there is probably more to this story. Maybe he and his family decided to roll the dice on the NFL instead of transferring somewhere. He only has two years remaining and transferring would eat up one more year of playing time.

As a non-factor in the secondary, I don't think this will impact the 2014 season. I also don't think this is the end of things. There will be more attrition as guys who were recruited by Addazio Spaz start to look for greener pastures. I also think there will probably be another guy or two who is buried on the depth chart that decide to explore other options.

Best of luck to ALJ. I don't expect him to catch on with an NFL team, but I've been wrong about these things before.

Hockey beats Maine and other links

The Men's team followed their win over BU by crushing Maine.

The Women's Ice Hockey team shut out Vermont.

Kasim Edebali played very well in the NFLPA All Star game. If he keeps this up at the combine, he'll move up a lot of Draft Boards.

BCI asked a Gator blog about Tyler Murphy. I think it does a good job of setting expectations for this upcoming season.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Not enough in North Carolina

I am sensing a pattern in our ACC games. BC keeps it relatively close but makes too many mistakes and the favored team pulls away. That's what happened in Saturday's loss to UNC. The big issue this game was BC's carelessness with the ball. Turnover after turnover killed momentum and possessions. BC's failure at the foul line didn't help. The game was so frustrating that Donahue threw a tantrum late after a questionable foul call and didn't get the Technical. Only after continuing his rant did he finally get the "T."

The were some encouraging signs. Once again, we made a good bit of "3s" and kept it close. Hanlan drew a lot of fouls driving to the basket. The spacing was better than it has been for much of the season and we leveraged the success from outside for some good cuts and drives.

As the losses pile up, I will keep looking for silver linings. Even if Donahue isn't coaching this team next year, most of the roster will be back. I want to see improvement and effort...and hope.

Of course another York milestone comes against BU

BU took an early lead in the first only to allow BC to break it open in the Second Period. There was some back and forth in the 3rd, but BC held on to win 6-4. It was Jerry York's 950th win. It also concluded a regular season sweep of the Terriers (obviously the Beanpot is still ahead).

BC takes on Maine Saturday.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Clifford to redshirt

Dennis Clifford's short season is already over. He will not play again this year and apply for a  medical redshirt. While this is disappointing for him and the team, I still think it is best. The season is already a mess and while I think his brief appearance showed he might have made a difference, there isn't much to play for.

Big men with feet and leg issues are always an concern in basketball. I don't know if more time off will ever help Clifford regain his old form and reach his potential. I also don't know if his prior issues are tied to his current ankle pain. But more time off might help. Clifford sitting also helps adjust the roster and scholarship distribution.

I hope the time off helps Clifford. We can't count on him ever being 100% but he could be a useful player to the next two BC Basketball teams.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Making the most of Mass

Massachusetts is not Texas or Florida. That's pretty obvious on many fronts, but is especially noticeable in college football recruiting. If BC coach wants success on the field, he is going to have to recruit far beyond the state border. But Massachusetts has provided a good foundation for some of BC's best teams. That is why is was so frustrating to watch some of the states best players not commit to BC in recent years. Considering this is his first full recruiting cycle, Addazio seems to have a better grip of Massachusetts recruiting than his predecessors. With the early enrollees serving as a the most recent reminder, BC has nearly every elite Massachusetts target they recruited this year. Take a look at Rivals Top 10 Players in Massachusetts:

1. Connor Strachan -- 4 stars | Boston College
2. Johnathan Thomas -- 3 stars | Penn State
3. Jon Baker -- 3 stars | Boston College
4. Isaac Yiadom -- 3 stars | Boston College
5. James Hendren -- 3 stars | Boston College
6. Kevin Cohee -- 3 stars | Boston College
7. Tom Rodrick -- 2 stars | UConn
8. Lubern Figaro -- 2 stars | Wisconsin
9. Miles Wright -- 2 stars | uncommitted
10. Kevin Bletzer -- 2 stars | Boston College

Of the Top Ten, the only player who BC aggressively recruited who went elsewhere was Figaro. Thomas was highly rated, but many of the experts rank our incoming RB recruits higher.

I don't know if BC will ever get to the point where they take all of the Top Ten but this is progress. And if tradition holds, these guys will be key to our success over the next five years.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More on the early enrollees and other links

Early enrollees are nothing new to BC. However, the size of this group and the attention they are getting is different. Murphy and Wade highlight the list but all the new players will be important. As a reminder enrolling midyear benefits the program in two ways. The primary benefit is the ability to go through Spring ball with the team. Although less critical to the on the field performance, midyear guys also count towards last year's recruiting commitments. This means Addazio could exceed the 25 scholarship limit on Signing Day. I don't think he will since I predict he will want to leave space for some mid year players next January.

Now healthy, Lonnie Jackson is playing with much more confidence.

Andrea Adelson wrote a fair recap of the football season.

BC is going hard after 2015 New Jersey Linebacker prospect Jamie Gordinier.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just what we needed: Murphy enrolls

The best news of the offseason arrived Tuesday as former Florida QB Tyler Murphy enrolled at BC. As a graduate and "5th Year" transfer, Murphy is immediately eligible and will compete with Darius Wade for the starting quarterback job. Murphy brings much needed experience and depth to arguably the most important position on the team. He started six games for an SEC school which is six more starts than anyone on the roster next fall.

Murphy is from Connecticut and knew Addazio well before the coach ever started recruiting him to Florida. Although Addazio won't be able to do it much longer, grabbing these disenchanted Gators is such a win-win. We get depth, credibility with the media and on the recruiting trail, and we get to churn the scholarship after one season. The players get a fresh start in a new place, yet play for a familiar face.

Murphy is more mobile than Rettig, so I expect we will see more designed QB runs. The offense will probably be less Stanford and more Oregon/Urban Meyer (which is what Day and Addazio want long-term). Word through the grapevine is that Murphy was not promised the starting job, just a chance to win it.

With Wade on campus and Walsh ready for Spring Ball, the only real question related to the QB spot is if Josh Bordner will get a 5th year. My guess is that it will be up to him. BC should have enough room and having four QBs is not a bad thing. While unlikely to win the starting job, a 5th year does give Bordner one more season of college football.

Many -- including those around the program -- expected BC to take a step back in 2014 as we replace so much of last season's offense. I don't expect miracles from Murphy or Wade, but I do think we will be competent and exceed expectations again. Addazio showed that he can work a scheme to his roster and with Murphy his roster just got a little bit better.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Everything right and wrong in a loss to Syracuse

For long stretches we caught a glimpse of what it was all supposed to be. BC was burying 3s. Conte was rocking. Boeheim pouting. This is what many of us hoped for prior to the season. It was what Donahue sold and what he still seems to think can happen. Most importantly, it was fun. But it didn't last. Syracuse pulled away and won 69-59.

As much fun as those moments were, there were still too many familiar problems. Dennis Clifford didn't play. We had no answer inside. Syracuse had possessions when they were able to rebound, rebound and rebound again. The turnovers were maddening too.

What I did like is that Donahue kept his rotations short and consistent. The best players played the most minutes. This might stunt Owens growth or Magarity's time, but the random rotations of earlier in the year didn't work. Lonnie got hot again. He's a weapon and should have been seeing the floor more this year.

Close doesn't count. Being up doesn't count for much. But there was more fight in the team. Please let that carry over to the UNC game.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The afterlife of a hit piece

Boston Media -- and especially the Sports Media -- love a good hit piece. It is a Boston tradition. Although out of the spotlight most of the time, BC figures have been subject to more than one over the years. One of the most glaring hits of recent was Bob Ryan's takedown of Al Skinner. At the time it seemed overly harsh and not surprisingly has followed Skinner around as he tried to work his way back into basketball. I don't know Ryan's motivations on the column or his sources, but I would venture to guess BC people fed him much of the fodder. And that is what bothers me.

Obviously Gene is long gone and in fairness to him I read plenty of Globe hits prior to his arrival (one of the more memorable). Maybe it is a Boston thing to protect your sources and attack their enemies. Think of how out of place and inaccurate Sean McDonough's rant on Jags was at the end of the BC-Florida State broadcast. Who knows where he got his info or why he felt the need to protect Spaz (supposedly they are friendly). But none of it is necessary. So far Brad Bates has played things close to the vest and hasn't got drawn into any media ambushes. I hope it stays that way. Because in the long run there is no winning in any of this. It all just reflects poorly on BC and everyone involved. I feel for Al Skinner and hope that he gets a second chance. He was treated poorly. Age more than anything is probably going to keep him from getting another head job, but a smart AD somewhere will hopefully see past that.

Al's replacement is entering a critical point in his tenure. BC and Brad Bates will have to make a decision and stand by it. However, whatever they do, I hope they back it up with clear reasoning and stand in front of the decision. Gossiping behind closed doors to win the spin never looks good and never helps anyone in the long term.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

BC pulls out a win at Virginia Tech

BC earned a big win at Virginia Tech Saturday. Repeatedly throughout the broadcast Dave Odom mentioned BC's confidence and how just one win might lead to a breakthrough. I would welcome a change, but I am not counting on it. But there were a few things that did make a difference.

-- Playing last year's lineup. We have the most experienced roster in the conference, but too often early in the year it looked like no one knew how to play with each other. Part was the rules. Part was waiting for Hanlan to take over. And part of it was working in the new talent. But those are just excuses. Saturday Jackson started and played long minutes. Clifford played extended minutes. Odio and Heckmann served in similar roles to last year. For whatever reason it worked enough. The ball movement was better and the defense was better.

-- Making 3s. Sometimes it is that simple. But I think Jackson getting more minutes helped open things up.

-- Clifford's presence close to the basket. Donahue doesn't get a pass on the season because of Clifford's injury, but having him there did keep Virginia Tech from dominating the paint offensively.

So where do we go from here? Do Owens, Magarity and Dragicevich ride the bench and we go as far as the best seven can take us? If it is that simple, then "yes." I don't think it is. Even with things looking better, the defense was still not great. Virginia Tech is also not that good. 

Too much has happened and we've seen this team check out too often. I would love for them to save the season, but I won't believe it until I see it. For now though I am happy for the win and hope that they build on it. It would make these last two months more fun than the first two months of the season. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Another Florida transfer and other links

For the second year, Addazio has shored up his offensive line with one of his former Florida players. 5th year Offensive Lineman Ian Silberman is expected to enroll at BC this semester. Because he's completed his degree, he is eligible to play immediately. Many expected Silberman to transfer to Louisville before Charlie Strong took the Texas job. The Silberman news is good on many fronts. First there is the added depth and strength on the Oline. Once again we also benefit from the 5th year rule which allows us to plug a known commodity in yet not lock up a scholarship for four years. BC will never be big in the JuCo ranks, so this is the next best thing. Finally it is another recruiting tool for Addazio. Like Patchan before him, Silberman is an example to all future recruits that Addazio cares about his players and that BC can be preferable to the football factories. Silberman might not be the only 5th year coming. BC has actively looking for a QB to serve as an insurance policy next season.

Andre Williams' shoulder injury will keep him out of the Senior Bowl.

If the NCAA allows it, the ACC could scrap the division format and have a championship game with the two best teams.

Mel Kiper still thinks Matt Ryan was the best player from the 2008 Draft.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, January 09, 2014

UMass still interested in Brown for something and other links

According to Blauds Don Brown remains a candidate at UMass for both the Head job and as a DC if Whipple gets the job. I am suspicious of all the speculation. Why would he leave BC (and presumably take a paycut) to go back to UMass as a coordinator? He was already head coach there. Would he want to work with Whipple that much? I am also doubtful that UMass would hire Brown for their head job. As much as our defense struggled this year, I don't want to scrap Brown's system after just one season. As we saw under Spaz, revolving coordinators doesn't lead to on the field success.

Under Armour signed Notre Dame to an apparel deal. It will be interesting to see how welcoming the Irish are to Under Armour's unique designs. I know the players don't care for the shoes, but as a fan I've been generally happy with the Under Armour BC uniforms. The only thing I hated was the white stripe helmet and that seems to be going away.

Charlie Davies signed with the Revolution.

This article doesn't mention BC, but it does deal with the growing issue of college basketball transfers. This new trend could help our next coach balance his roster fairly quickly. If anything having one mega class that didn't have much attrition hurt Donahue's ability to backfill with transfers.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Respect from the Champs and other links

When Jameis Winston referenced the BC game repeatedly after the BCS Championship Game, most in the media laughed it off. Well he's not the only Seminole singing BC's praises and saying our game was a turning point for them. Here is what DT Timmy Jernigan had to say:

"We were down 17-0 against Boston College, I guess everyone forgot about that," Jernigan said angrily. "It doesn't matter, they play football the same way we do, they put their pants on the same way we do. They had a Heisman finalist, but Boston College had a Heisman finalist, too, so what's the difference? Nothing. Boston College's offensive line is just as good as theirs, maybe even better. (Staring into camera) Nobody want to talk about that," he said when a reported tried to differentiate the two games.

Rutgers is considering Spaz for their open DC spot. I wouldn't want him but would be glad if they hire him. It might save BC a few bucks on his payout.

BC DL coach Albert leaked that Edebali and Ramsey earned invites to the NFL Combine. I expect a few other names (Patchan, Williams, KPL) to become official in the coming days.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Steve Addazio: TV Star

As I tweeted Monday night, I loved the "Film Room" aspect of ESPN's BCS Megacast. For those who didn't watch, Film Room was a mix of coaches and analysts watching and commenting on the National Championship Game live. Addazio, Kevin Sumlin and Paul Chryst were the coaches selected for the broadcast. Aside from the Xs & Os aspect of the game, what I liked most was getting to see Addazio in a natural setting. Obviously he's a smart guy and knows he's on TV, but it is hard to keep up your guard over four hours. You could see he's got a very good feel for the game and his "rah rah" attitude is not a front. Addazio popped up after good tackles and was quick to point out blocking assignments. BC fans would also be glad to know that anytime they surveyed the coaches to discuss strategy, Addazio -- more often than not -- suggested an aggressive approach.

The format earned rave reviews (The Big Lead | Smart Football). Sumlin was a natural, but I could also see Addazio on TV after his coaching days are over. It certainly plays to his strengths.

While this is a great tool for BC and Addazio to raise his profile among recruits, I also think it helps with BC fans. Aside from the occasional interview and an occasional booster/donor event, we rarely get to see the coach in a relaxed open setting. I know personally the more he does this, the more impressed I am with Addazio. Despite the tags on him from prior jobs, the guy really is a good Xs & Os coach. If you didn't think so after this season, all you have to do is watch him watch football to confirm it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Why the BC basketball job still matters

I found myself defending the BC basketball job on some of the message boards Monday and felt I should bring the argument here...

I am constantly amazed by how little some BC fans often view our athletics programs. During the football searches, there were always some fans who voiced "BC is a terrible job. Who would ever want to coach here?" Now that it looks like basketball might face a change, you are hearing some of the same sentiments. "BC's _________ [insert: fans, facilities, recruiting base, etc.] are so bad, no one will ever want to take this job." Whatever you think of BC, know that this job is still very, very attractive. I don't know if BC will hire a big name. I don't know if BC will hire a good coach. Heck, Steve Donahue could still be our coach next year (that is another post altogether). BC and other programs make bad hires all the time, but it is never due to a lack of good, qualified or interesting candidates.

1. There are only so many jobs in power conferences. For everyone opening at a major college, there are dozens of guys who want the job. Especially in the ACC. Coaches as a group tend to be hypercompetitive constantly looking for their shot. The chance to go head to head against Duke, UNC and Syracuse is very appealing for some. Especially if the guy is an assistant at a big program or in a lower conference.

2. Historiclly BC has been a very good basketball program. We won Big East titles under different coaches. We've competed in the ACC. As you always hear during the Tourney, we have the most tournament wins without making a Final Four. The list of successful coaches who have come through BC is impressive (Daly, Davis, Williams, O'Brien, Skinner). That past success is encouraging to potential candidates.

3. The new coach will be able to get his players in the system quickly. It hasn't worked out well for Donahue, but most coaches won't shy away from having to restock the roster in two or three recruiting cycles. They won't be "stuck" with Donahue's guys. Plus most new coaches are going to come in with an understanding of who and who they cannot recruit. The program will be at a lowpoint. I expect BC will allow a few borderline guys in to help turn the tide early.

Every job has its drawbacks. Every coach who has a job can be selective about his next job. I don't know how the process will turn for BC. Trustees, ADs, Presidents and agents could all screw this up, but that doesn't mean the job is the issue.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Women's hoops wins ACC Opener and other links

While we've all focused on the disastrous Men's season, many (including me) have overlooked the Women's Basketball team's great start. Sunday they beat Virginia Tech. It was their seventh straight win.

Auburn might take a page from BC's playbook against Florida State.

Boston's new Mayor Marty Walsh is a proud BC alum. You can tell by his choice for his inaugural.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Hockey beats ND at Fenway

When all the other programs leave you down, you can always turn to BC Hockey.

Reading into the Town Hall

Prior to the basketball game, Brad Bates held a "Town Hall." But before it even began he said the meeting wasn't to talk about the season, the coaching, or recruiting. He didn't have the same restrictions when he held the football "Town Hall." I don't blame Bates. He cannot say a coaching change is coming. It wouldn't be right for him to throw his current coach under the bus in a forum like this and he also doesn't want to waste any credibility by making excuses or lying about how he feels. I wasn't there (obviously) but I can read into it just like anyone else. Not defending Donahue or even entertaining criticism verifies all the talk I've heard about Donahue being done.

As for the game, that didn't help Donahue's case either. BC lost a close game to Clemson, but it was only after BC dug out of a big hole in the first half. Hanlan had a chance to tie things but couldn't. The biggest news was the Dennis Clifford played. He looked decent in his 12 minutes. Maybe he will contribute more as the season goes on. I hope he does, since his redshirt is gone.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Independence Bowl

Normally watching a game like this a second time would be frustrating. Despite some defensive issues, the game was going our way. Then Rettig's Pick 6 happened and everything unraveled. I don't want to say the team gave up or lost confidence. I think it was more of a case of giving Arizona just enough of what it needed to take a lead. And we weren't built to catch up.

Offense: C+

Chase Rettig was playing great. He was in command of the offense, making good decisions and good passes (the first INT wasn't on him). Then he got hurt and it wasn't the same. A stalled drive and then a pick 6 that he telegraphed and threw off of his back foot and the game was basically over. He regained his composure in the second half but wasn't as sharp as he was in the beginning. Bordner played in mop up duty. Not much to read into that. But I do think it is a glimpse into the future of having a run-first QB next year.

Andre ran hard but still didn't seem 100%. He still struggled in traffic and didn't break anything big. It is not his game, but there were some cutbacks for him that he didn't take. Willis looked pretty good. Rouse also showed nice burst (but the game was over at that point).

Amidon had a very good game. He was doing a great job getting open and his hands were better than they've been all year. The other WRs weren't as good. Rich bumbled a pass that became a INT. He also cut back on what should have been a first down. Dudeck couldn't pull a pass in. The Tight Ends were better as Parsons and Naples both made nice plays.

The Offensive Line was good but not great. They didn't have breakdowns, but weren't getting to the second level or breaking big holes for Andre. The pass blocking was solid. Patchan whiffed on the play that hurt Rettig. I thought Williams played well and moved well (we just couldn't get any space behind him). Gallik was good.

I thought Day called a good game. We came out with many new looks and moved the ball relatively well in the first half. Although the jumbo stuff didn't work, I think we used it just enough. My only criticism was use of some gimmick/trick plays. When you have a month to prepare the temptation to use those plays is strong (you can practice them over and over, the other team hasn't seen them, etc.). But they didn't really work and hurt momentum in one case and physically hurt Rettig in another. But the score doesn't indicate the solid offensive scheme. It wasn't our best game, but certainly wasn't the reason we lost.

Defense: C-

There was a lot wrong with the defense, but it really started up front with the D Line. No pressure. No push. Some sloppy tackling and a few missed contains. Ramsey -- who was healthy -- was the best of the group. But even then he wasn't making plays behind the line of scrimmage.

KPL also had some troubles. He bit hard on some of the option reads and also had real trouble in pass coverage. Divitto was okay. Daniels wasn't disruptive but he did make a few big tackles that kept big plays from being bigger.

This might not make sense, but the DBs weren't as bad as it looked the first time. There were a few plays when guys got turned around and called for pass interference, but I really think the problems started up front. Our DBs are not particularly speedy, so maintaining coverage when there is no pressure becomes a tough task. They actually tackled well in run support. Asprilla was very active and force a fumble. They picked on Jones a bit, but he recovered to make some tackles. Williams was a bit inconsistent.

RichRod is a great offensive mind. Doing anything other than base is tough, because he has counters for everything. But that said, I was still disappointed how little confusion and pressure we brought. It was not Brown's best scheme. We played better against much better offenses.

Special Teams: B

Freese made his kicks. His punts were solid too.

The two-point conversion attempt wasn't great but I didn't mind the call.

Spiffy was back returning punts but didn't get to do much since we couldn't get them off the field much.

Willis had one good run on a kick return.

Overall: C+

As I wrote shortly after the game, TOB's first bowl team got blown out and turned around and rattled off the famous BC bowl streak. I am not particularly worried about this game or really disappointed in this performance. From an Addazio perspective, the team came out motivated and with a solid gameplan. I am tossing this up to an overachieving team whose carriage turned back into a pumpkin. I was not an Addazio guy or believer when he was hired, but I've seen enough to know that this was a just a first step.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Let's view the rest of the season as a showcase

Donahue is done. Obviously he's not done coaching this season nor as a coach of basketball. But he has no future as the coach of Boston College. I am not going to pile on (you can get that elsewhere). I am not going to breakdown what went wrong (I'll wait until the firing is official). But he won't be coaching basketball at BC next year. There is too much at stake to let things go on and Brad Bates has no equity tied to Donahue. If anything, keeping Donahue hurts Bates more than firing him would. Like anyone proud person, Donahue is getting somewhat defensive of how things have turned. He said that he's building things the right way and that the schedule hurt the team's confidence. I don't really believe him on either account. But what I think doesn't matter. What he thinks doesn't really matter either. It's all about Bates and BC's other leaders. But if Donahue really believes this is all a taxing schedule gone wrong, than the loss to Harvard should be a turning point. If he wants to show that he really knows what he is doing, he can prove it with the ACC schedule.

For whatever what went wrong with the out of conference schedule, the ACC schedule should not be a surprise. The players have played in the ACC venues and against these teams. They should have "confidence" to know they can win and compete. While the defensive rules changed things a bit, Donahue and his staff should have fewer issues scouting and preparing for the ACC opponents. This is the familiar part of the year. Donahue had so much confidence in the team's ability to compete in the ACC, that he rolled the dice on the non-conference. If he wants to impress future employers and if he wants to be a head coach elsewhere, then go out and win nine ACC games. Show others what this was supposed to be. Prove that you can "out coach" the best in the business. Recapture some of that X and O acumen that has been missing so much this year. Nothing is going to save his BC's tenure. So Donahue needs to coach for his next job.

The players need to kick it up a notch too. We probably won't get the full story of the collective regression for months, but nearly every player has regressed this year. They will all be playing for a new coach next year. Now is the time to start impressing the new guy. Any new staff worth taking over this program is going to watch these games this summer. Players need to start playing hard. Show toughness, smarts and basketball skills and you might get a fair shot with the new guys.

As we saw with football, when things go bad it is very hard for the coaches and players to come together. Odds are this will be a miserable end to a miserable season. But if all those involved are smart and proud, they will make the most of the rest of the season. It might not pay off this year, but they will all see benefits down the road.