The State of BC Football

Daniel Coates '17, Contributor

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I’m fairly certain, whether you are a fan of collegiate sports or not, that most of you have heard of the recent failures of the Boston College football and basketball programs. Whether this be because we share the same name of the university, or because both programs went winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference, our community is well aware of the hole that the BC athletic department finds itself in. In this article, I’d like to focus on the BC football program and analyze the program’s history as a whole—from the Doug Flutie days to the recent Matt Ryan Era to the current season and what it may hold. As an avid fan and season ticket holder, I have witnessed first hand the changing of the program, and have gathered my thoughts about where it may be heading in the years to come.

Throughout the history of BC football, the program has experienced short periods of national attention, mostly starting with the Doug Flutie era. Throughout this period, BC really put themselves on the map in terms of the college football landscape. One of the more notable wins during this period of prosperity was the “Miracle in Miami”, when Doug Flutie sent a Hail Mary down the field as time expired to stun the #1 team in the nation at the time, the University of Miam. From the period of 2000-2007, BC showed great consistency, winning 7 bowl games in a row and winning well over 50% of their competitions. Clearly, BC was a consistent power 5 program that could compete with any other school. Yet, their consistency would become the normal, and as a result people began to pay less attention to the Eagles. Yet, when an overlooked recruit from Philadelphia by the name of Matt Ryan took the helm at the quarterback position in 2006, Boston College took a new form. Matt Ryan led the Eagles to a 9-3 season capped off by a win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Navy. The 2007 season, which culminated in an 11-2 record and—at one point—a #2 overall rank in the nation, demonstrated Matt Ryan’s brilliance at the quarterback position. Matt Ryan would then go on to be selected number three overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Ever since Matt Ryan’s departure, the BC program has never been able to emulate the same level of excellence and consistency that defined Matt Ryan’s two-year period at quarterback. Instead, inconsistency and coaching changes have dragged the Eagles into mediocrity, unable to maintain stability or form a winning culture. It is important to remember—before I go into detail on how the program went wrong in the years from 2008 to now—that BC was a powerful, northeast program that was always an opponent other programs circled on their schedules.

When Boston College Football is brought up now, the first thing people think of are the recent failures, such as the Pinstripe Bowl (where the Eagles lost to Penn State in OT because of a missed extra point) or their most recent 3-9 2015 season.  Though BC sported a stellar defense last season that finished #1 overall in the country, the offense was flat-out terrible. Steve Addazio, BC’s head coach for the past four seasons, has brought an ultra-conservative offensive mindset to the Heights that has only worsened the confidence and outlook of the program. This caution has cost BC many winnable games. Because of recent struggles that have been inflicted by Addazio, recruiting has become a much more difficult task. No recruit wants to go to a program that is known for blowing games and having an inept offense. Therefore, the loss of a consistent batch of highly ranked recruits has put BC into a hole, creating outcomes that make the nation see BC as a joke as of late. 

BC has had a history of success. Of course, they will never be an Alabama or a Notre Dame, but they should be a program that can compete with these types of teams. The first step of rebuilding has to be to address and maintain a steady pipeline of solid recruits that can be coached and developed to the fullest of their potential. Secondly, Coach Addazio must become less conservative. This means expanding the playbook and taking more chances throughout the game, instead of squandering games by playing too conservatively once they get a lead. Finally, BC needs to invest into its facilities and program financially, so they can attract recruits and compete with the facilities of the other ACC programs. Recruits are the answer to BC’s predicament, and the more they invest into their program, the more recruits will buy in as well.

Currently, BC is 3-2 on the 2016 season, with its most recent win coming against the University of Buffalo. This season will be crucial for the future of the program. After a historically poor season in 2015, BC’s head coach Steve Addazio needs to prove himself if he still has hopes of keeping his job. When I talk to people about BC football and their recent struggles, a common question I get is: “Why don’t they just fire their head coach?”  Although this may be tempting, the firing of Steve Addazio would cause many players to transfer, and ultimately restart the process of creating a winning culture. If a new coach came in next year, then it may not be until three or four years later that the program could gain traction again. Hopefully, Addazio can become more aggressive as a coach and create some success and consistency to attract recruits, who hopefully will take notice of the manifestation of a winning environment.  In the meantime, a hopeful goal for the Eagles this season is to make a bowl game, which would require, at least, a 6-6 record. This is doable, yet with match-ups against Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville in the upcoming weeks, the task becomes more daunting.  It will be key that BC performs well the rest of this season to give fans, alumni, and recruits something to look forward to in the upcoming years. I have confidence that the program can get back to the way it was in the Matt Ryan era. Sometimes, hitting a rough patch is the best thing that can happen for a program in the long run. Hopefully, this is the case for BC. Go Eagles, and beat Clemson!

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The State of BC Football