Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekend Out: "Don't Call It A Comeback" and Play Him Off

Brian: First, the baseball team makes like LL Cool J. "Don't call it a comeback! ..."
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — John Spatola hit a three-run homer during a six-run ninth inning, and Boston College rallied to beat Texas State 8-7 in the opener of the Austin regional Friday.

The Eagles (34-24) started the ninth with five straight hits, including Spatola's homer, and sent 11 batters to the plate to turn a 5-2 deficit into an 8-5 lead.

If there was ever a game to defibrillate Superfan interest in college baseball, this be it. Next up for the Eagles is a matchup between the winner of (1) Texas vs. (4) Army. The game will be played tomorrow at 7pm.

Second, I'll be taking a bit of a vacation from the blog for about three weeks starting ... tomorrow. You can say that there will be quite a few significant changes in my life over the next month. Namely, getting hitched, quitting my (day) job, moving from New York to Chicago and going back to school for my masters degree.

Blogger batteries will be recharged, and sadly, I won't be around for the Eagles trip to Omaha.

"I promise you one thing though, a lot of good will come out of this vacation. When I return, you will never see any blogger in the entire country blog as hard as I will blog about BC the rest of the year. You will never see someone push the BCI staff as hard as I will push the BCI staff the rest of the season.

You will never see a BC sports blog blog harder than we will the rest of the season.

God bless."

Oh, sorry. Just channeling my inner Tim Tebow. I'll pop in from time to time in the comments section and will keep our Twitter feed going.

In my absence, Jeff will keep things going around here. Send any tips, suggestions or feedback to

Finally, here to help send off my single years in style is the keyboard cat. Play my single life off, keyboard cat:

ACC-SEC Kicking Off The Season and the Big Finish

Brian: News out of Raleigh is that both NC State and North Carolina are finalizing deals with the Atlanta Sports Council to play in the 2010 and 2012 versions of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. The preseason version of the Peach Bowl - pitting an ACC team against an SEC team - seems to be a growing tradition. Excerpt from said article with requisite sound byte from NC State coach Tom O'Brien:
N.C. State is set to open the 2012 football season against Tennessee in Atlanta. UNC is trying to work out a deal to open the 2010 season in the Georgia Dome against an SEC team.

It's all apart of the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff, which was started by the Atlanta Sports Council and ESPN in 2008.

"I like it," Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said. "You've got to play one major game that gets you on television. It's great exposure for our program."

If UNC can finalize a deal, that will make four ACC programs that have played in or signed up to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, with Clemson "playing" in the inaugural game in 2008 and Virginia Tech playing Alabama in the Dome to start the 09 season.

It is well documented the Atlanta Sports Council's bias for having southern schools play in both the Kickoff Classic and the Peach Bowl. If I was going to bet, if we get to 2018 and 11 unique ACC teams have been selected to play in the Kickoff Classic, BC wouldn't be one of those teams.

My question is if BC is continually left out of the discussion in terms of ACC teams playing in the Kickoff Classic on national television, can this actually result in a competitive disadvantage for Boston College when it comes to recruiting against these other ACC schools?

Jeff: No. You're talking about playing in this game once every 5-10 years for the other ACC schools. This one game is not going to make or break BC or any other ACC school.

I would love to see BC in it some day since we all know I'd be there in a second and I'd love to see BC play an SEC team at the Georgia Dome. Will it happen? Maybe. If it does it would be against one of the bigger SEC schools guaranteed to sell the place out since BC will probably only bring a quarter of the fans that North Carolina or NC State would.

The other thing to take from this is that this is the reason TOB made the seemingly lateral move to NC State. When you think about it, it doesn't seem quite so lateral when it comes to being able to play in games such as this. BC gets passed over for bowls and these type of events while NC State does not.

Brian: I agree that it is certainly to Tom O'Brien's and his program's advantage to have the opportunity to play in these sorts of games. NC State opened the season last year on national television against an SEC opponent in South Carolina, and will do so again this year.

Especially when BC is opening up the season against teams like Northeastern and Kent State, the national exposure and buzz you can get from playing a big name SEC opponent on college football's opening weekend can certainly pay dividends to your football program down the road. However, as Doc Saturday points out, it is what you make of these opportunities. You could just as easily lay an egg against these big name SEC opponents and therefore wouldn't get the same bang for your buck in terms of exposure. See:

NC State 0, South Carolina 34
Alabama 31, Clemson 10
Georgia Tech 3, LSU 38

In the end though, I'd much rather have the Eagles be considered for these type of games instead of continually be passed over. I do think that this puts the Eagles at a slight competitive disadvantage, even if these ACC teams are playing in the Georgia Dome against an SEC opponent once every 5-10 years. You have to figure that with the Kickoff Classic and the Peach Bowl, that is two opportunities instead of one every season for an ACC to play in the Georgia Dome against the SEC, and currently BC is typically being passed over for these games.

Big Finish

Brian: Baseball is set to face Texas State today at 2pm in the Austin Regional. Watch the Gamecast live here. Chances BC knocks off the Bobcats?

Jeff: I'll go with a healthy 55% chance.

Jeff: Here is a Buffalo News article on Brooks Orpik's second chance to win the Stanley Cup. Who ya got in the Stanley Cup finals?

Brian: Detroit in 6. Crosby and Malkin are great and all, but there's a reason Detroit is called "Hockeytown."

Brian: Bodog released their early future odds to win the 2009 National Championship. BC is currently listed as 100/1. You like the odds given to any of the ACC teams?

Jeff: No, not at all. Virginia Tech is clearly the only team you would want to put any money on but at 16-1 you're not getting a ton of return for that very risky bet. The best value might - and I emphasize MIGHT - be Georgia Tech at 50-1.

Jeff: Eagle in Atlanta linked to a good article about SEC coaches whining. It's shocking that South Carolina has killed Clemson in recruiting in the last 8 years yet gets killed by them on the field. Will recruiting rankings ever be a realistic gauge of a college football team?

Brian: Talent will always be one of the factors to compare college football teams, but ultimately, it is what you do with that talent that counts.

Brian: Your boy - Sergio Garcia - is heartbroken after his girlfriend (and BC's own) Morgan-Leigh Norman broke up with him. Will Sergio now finally win a major now that Norman and Garcia are splitsville?

Jeff: No.

Jeff: HD declares that BC's stretch of at Clemson, Wake Forest and Florida State will make or break the Eagles football season. Agree?

Brian: Actually, no. If you are going to pick three consecutive games and call them the toughest stretch, it has to be Florida State, at Virginia Tech, NC State. Side note: I feel like this is the 15th variant of the same offseason blog post from HD. C'mon.

Brian: Last one, two innovative athletics department cost savings measures. Georgia Tech becomes the first athletics department to fully outsource their athletic ticketing operation, while Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan will stop printing media guides. Should BC adopt one or both of these cost-cutting measures?

Jeff: I'm shocked Georgia Tech is the first to outsource ticket operations and printing media guides is just one of the many things dying with the internet age. However, BC should adopt neither cost-cutting measure this year.

BC Interruption on Twitter

We have joined the growing social networking community on Twitter. And by We, I mean the royal "We" as Jeff does his best Wilbon impression: "Tweeting is one of the worst things to happen to the United States of America."

Ok, he doesn’t come down on the Twitter machine that hard, but you get the idea.

If you’d like to be subjected to Brian’s 140 characters worth of thoughts and links on BC sports, join our Twitter feed by clicking here.

We are using the feed to post links and random thoughts that don’t make their way into full blown posts. You’ve already missed Brian calling out the Globe for not having @GlobeColleges (which apparently exists) listed on their Twitter page, a suggestion for BC-BU to play as the undercard for the 2010 Winter Classic, and just what time Spaz gets up in the morning.

This is Twitter gold, people.

Send your tips, suggestions, links and hate mail to @bcinterruption works too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Just In From Lexington: Some Perspective

Brian: Not a very memorable 24 hours for you Kentucky Wildcats hoops fan out there.

First, there’s this business about major violations in the Memphis basketball program under (then Memphis and now Kentucky) coach John Calipari:
The University of Memphis is responding to an NCAA notice of allegations charging the men's basketball program with major violations during the 2007-08 season under John Calipari.

The allegations include "knowing fraudulence or misconduct" on an SAT exam by a player on the 2007-08 team, widely reported to be Derrick Rose. The player's name is redacted in the NCAA's notice of allegations, but the description of the player in the notice also pointed to Rose.

To make matters worse, this whole thing appears to be only an University of Memphis issue:
First and foremost, there are no NCAA allegations against UK Head Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari. Coach Calipari was forthcoming with the University of Kentucky during the hiring process about any issues under investigation at the University of Memphis at that time. It is normal procedure for the NCAA to ask a former coach to participate in a hearing. Therefore, Coach Calipari will participate as requested.

Coach John Calipari has received a letter from the NCAA stating that he is not at risk of being charged with any NCAA violations in this case.

This is a University of Memphis issue and the University of Kentucky will not comment any further.

Sounds like Calipari will (again) pull an Andy Dufrense - crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side. "Again" as in, haven’t we heard this story before? To wit, that little business about Marcus Camby and an agent that went down some 85 miles down the Mass Pike? Coincidence? You decide.

But wait, there's more from Lexington!
Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie is seeking more than $6 million from the UK Athletics Association in a federal lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud. The 24-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, argues that the athletics department should pay the coach an untold amount in damages and attorney fees in addition to the $6 million Gillispie says he’s owed for being fired two years into a seven-year term.

But did you think the Wildcats were just going to roll over and pay the man? Of course not. This just in:
The University of Kentucky has sued former basketball coach Billy Gillispie the day after Gillispie filed suit against the school claiming breach of contract.

Kentucky contends Gillispie never signed a formal contract but was working under a memorandum of understanding when he was fired after last season. The two sides are clashing over whether a buyout clause in that memorandum is binding. That would require the school to pay him $1.5 million for four of five years left on his contract.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for UK, the three ring traveling circus rolls on ...
John Wall, who will be attending Calipari University, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the breaking and entering of an abandoned house in Raleigh. Wall’s record won’t take a hit since he entered a first time offenders program.

Is it over yet? No, wait. One more. Not only did Derrick Rose allegedly cheat on his SATs, but today the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Rose's high school grades were boosted.

Indeed. When it rains, it pours.

Special shout out to the consensus #1 2009 recruit in the country, last year's #1 overall NBA draft pick, John Calipari, Billy Gillispie and the University of Kentucky for making headlines left and right in an otherwise slow sports news week. Seriously - the only thing else we got is the Scripps National Spelling Bee!

At this point, you may be asking yourself, why am I telling you all this? Well, I think Eagles fans can look at Kentucky and gain a healthy bit of perspective on the state of the Eagles men's basketball program.

Sometimes it is easy to cast stones at Al Skinner. I am as guilty of this as the next avid fan. You can bemoan Skinner for not teaching his team how to beat a full-court press, a lack of in-game adjustments, banking scholarships and not signing 1 recruit for the class of 2009?! (Not 1??), or not showing the slightest bit of emotion while sitting the bench.

And it is equally easy to pick on BC given that we lead college basketball in the most infamous of team statistics – most NCAA tournament wins without reaching the Final Four (22 and counting, holding off those pesky Crimson Tide by a game!).

But baring a few run-ins with the law the last few years, mostly drug-related, Skinner has run a fairly clean program. We seem to have done it the right way. The men's program has come a long way since Henry Hill and Rick Kuhn, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

In college basketball, success sometimes can come at a cost.

Would it be nice to see the Eagles eventually make a Final Four one of these years? Absolutely, but you have to ask yourself at what cost?

For example, if the NCAA forces Memphis to vacate last year's Final Four appearance over these major violations, that will make 2 Final Four appearances (of 3 total) vacated by the program. And [Calipari's high-profile, one-and-done, #1 NBA draft pick NAME REDACTED] can join the names Kiki Vandeweghe, Rod Foster, Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock, Marcus Camby and Boban Savovic on the NCAA Final Four wall of shame.

So if given the choice of never seeing the Eagles make a Final Four in my lifetime, or seeing them reach the Final Four only to have those wins vacated by the NCAA, I'll take what's behind Door #1. I'll be perfectly content with the Eagles having the same number of Final Four appearances as UMass* and one less than Memphis**.

I'll be the first to admit that Skinner is not and should not be beyond reproach, but in light of the storm swirling over Lexington the past 24 hours, today it doesn't seem all that bad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oddsmakers: Super Regionals, Spaz v. Swinney and Fenway Park

What do the NCAA baseball regionals, Dabo Swinney and football in Fenway Park have in common? Absolutely nothing. But we touch on all three topics in a game of oddsmakers.

Chances BC advances to the NCAA baseball Super Regionals?

Brian: The breadth of Jeff and my college baseball knowledge is certainly limited, as is well documented on the blog. However, for whatever reason, I am feeling overly optimistic about the Eagles chances in Austin. The Eagles used a 17 run outburst last Friday and Saturday to tally a very respectable 2-1 record in the ACC Championship. I am thinking that the Eagles can use this momentum to beat Texas State in the opening game. The pitching lately has been great too, with Dean and MacDonald pitching great games against Miami and Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship.

While Texas State did finish the year at 38-14, when it came to playing the big name baseball teams, they have a mix of impressive wins - 2 at Baylor, 1 at Rice - and bad losses - 2 losses to TCU, 2 losses to Texas. Not sure what to make of this. Texas State does have an ace on their staff - Kane Holbrooks (10-1, 3.34 ERA) - so it will be interesting to see if the Eagles have to face Holbrooks or if they will save him for a possible matchup with Texas.

I really don't think much of Army's chances to run the gauntlet of Texas, Texas State and BC.

After the Longhorns, I'll say the Eagles have the next highest chance of advancing to the Super regionals. I'll give UT a 55% chance to advance, the Eagles a 25% chance, the Bobcats a 19% chance, and the Black Knights a 1% chance. 25%.

Jeff: At least you prefaced your answer by saying that you know nothing about college baseball. I am not claiming to know much but I have a least watched a few games this year which is more than you can say. Since we're handicapping the whole regional, here's how it goes.

Texas 90% ...
Boston College 5% ...
Texas State 5% ...
Army 0%

Army has no chance whatsoever. Texas is probably going to advance easily. I'd love to see BC advance but they have far worse than a 1 in 4 chance.

Chances Swinney bests Spaziani in the first full year as head coach?

Jeff: A month ago, this was a no-brainer and BC was the heavy favorite. I know Clemson has CJ Spiller back and BC has quarterback issues, but I will continue to stress that aside from the quarterback and defensive tackle positiosn, the Eagles have a really, really strong team. Now with Herzlich out of the starting lineup until further notice and when you give Clemson a few extra percentage points since we have to travel to South Carolina in September, it becomes closer to a 50-50. To set my final number though I look at each coach's all-time winning percentage as head coaches and I give Spaz the advantage since he is batting 1.000. Final answer. 39% chance that Swinney finishes ahead of Spaz this year.

Brian: I am going to throw out the quarterback issue you mentioned because Clemson is just as unsettled as the Eagles are at the QB position. Of course, you wouldn't know this if you read this HD fluff piece on backup QBs, but I digress.

Expectations will certainly be low both in Clemson and Chestnut Hill this fall. I tend to agree with you, Jeff, that even with the loss of Herzlich, BC is the more complete team going into next season. I think when you boil it down, the chances that Swinney has a better record than Spaz at the end of the year depend greatly on the Tigers and Eagles schedules.

Comparing out of conference schedules, Northeastern/Kent State and Middle Tennessee State/Coastal Carolina seems to me to be a wash, and I'd put both the Eagles and Tigers at 2-0 after these games. Although I would say TCU/at South Carolina is a tougher pair of out of conference games than Central Michigan/at Notre Dame. TCU is considered by some to be a preseason Top 25 team, and you have to think this year is as good a chance as any for Spurrier to bring the Carolina-Clemson rivalry a little closer to .500 since he arrived. Advantage: Eagles.

If you then consider each team's respective ACC slates, the advantage has to go again to BC. This season, both teams miss Duke, Clemson misses North Carolina and Virginia Tech while the Eagles miss Georgia Tech and Miami. Perhaps this is a wash, maybe a slight edge to BC. But when you look at the road sched, this seems to favor the Eagles, as the Tigers travel to Georgia Tech, Miami and NC State. The Eagles' toughest road test will come on October 10 in Blacksburg, but the road trips to Charlottesville and College Park don't seem as daunting as running the Atlanta/Miami/Raleigh gauntlet. Especially with all those high expectations in Raleigh.

After dissecting both the Eagles and Tigers 11 other matchups, I honestly think this will come down to the head-to-head matchup on September 19. Since the game is in Death Valley this year, I'll give the slight, slight edge to Clemson and say Swinney has a 50.1% chance of ending the season with a better record than Spaziani.

Last one, chances BC football plays at Fenway Park any time soon?

Brian: The reason this is a question is recently's Ivan Maisel came up with a list of old college football foes playing in old venues and suggested Fenway Park with BC facing Auburn. Auburn was selected as BC's opponent since the other 5 teams we played games against at Fenway - Boston U, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Temple, and Idaho - either de-emphasized football, dropped down to FCS or straight up suck. The Auburn blog Track 'Em Tigers even goes as far to suggest that BC and Auburn should be paired together as part of a larger SEC-ACC rivalry series. Having been to Jordan-Hare Stadium last season, I really like this idea. Well played, Track 'Em Tigers.

While I would love to see BC play football at Fenway Park, I don't think we'll see this happen anytime soon. I just can't imagine Gene and the Athletics Department offering to play a BCS conference opponent in a venue that seats less fans than Alumni Stadium and one in which would likely have ungodly sight line issues for football.

Sitting on top of the Green Monster and watching a football game = awesome
Sitting in the last rows behind home plate, as far away to the action as possible = not so awesome.

Not to mention the fact that if Gene and the AD continue to slavishly follow our established out of conference formula from the last four years (1 parts BCS, 2 parts non-BCS FBS, and 1 part FCS) going forward, I can't imagine a team like Southern Cal, Syracuse or Northwestern agreeing to playing at Fenway instead of Alumni Stadium. If BC is going to play a home game off-campus, this game will likely end up at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro before it ever ends up at Fenway. The athletics department would want to increase the number of seats available, not decrease the total number.

Finally, with the Red Sox actually being good again, there's no telling whether they will still be playing come October. And I can't imagine the Sox or FSG getting excited for a college football team tearing up the diamond and grass. I will go VERY low on this and say 5% chance.

Jeff: This is somewhat of a stupid question because it says anytime soon. The answer is 0%. If anytime soon actually means the next 20 years, then there's a decent chance.

I think every BC hockey fan has said to themselves at one point or another that BC and BU should play at Fenway after some other schools have played similar rivalry games in large outdoor venues. I think this will happen at some point and the date will probably be set in the next 5 years.

After that, if everyone agrees that was a huge success, then you have a strong possibility of a Thanksgiving weekend football game, i.e. BC vs. Syracuse, being played at Fenway, but at that point we're probably already well into the 2020s. Will Fenway still be around?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Five Good Minutes: The College Baseball Blog

For a preview of this weekend's NCAA baseball regional action, we welcome back Brian Foley, editor of The College Baseball Blog for Five Good Minutes.

BCI: First, put Boston College's accomplishment of receiving an NCAA tournament berth for the first time in 42 years in perspective. Just how important is experience in the National tournament for the Eagles baseball program?

TCBB: It is more important to the future of the program to get into the NCAA Tournament. The potential student-athletes in the Northeast don't look at the Boston College program being elite with several kids heading down to southern programs and becoming excellent players.

BCI: Selection Monday wasn't without its fair share of controversy. Two somewhat controversial selection committee decisions were the omission of Duke from the field of 64 and the ACC baseball tournament champs Virginia not being selected as a regional host. Did the selection committee get it right in the ACC? Tell us why these were the correct selections.

TCBB: The reason why Duke was left out was due to their pathetic RPI of 75. Boston College, on the other hand, had an RPI of 30, but won two less games in the conference than Duke did. The biggest issue is Duke's non-conference schedule. Their schedule this year was an absolute joke and has been for a few years. This Duke team was good enough to be in the NCAA tournament but with pathetic non-conference scheduling, it hurt the team in the long run.

Virginia as the #2 in the Irvine regional isn't the issue. The problem is that East Carolina got a number 1 seed which is preposterous. UVA is a better team than ECU and the Pirates will likely not get out of the NCAA Regionals.

BCI: For the Eagles, is this season more of a "one and done" kind of season, or can we expect BC to build on this season and have more successful seasons to come?

TCBB: BC has a solid base for next season and if they continue to recruit well, that base is just going to get better and better. Pat Dean should be the number 1 starting pitcher next season and John Leonard has started pitching much better over the last two weeks which is encouraging. Mike Dennhardt should be in the rotation next year also.

The biggest issue the Eagles will face over the next few years will be the loss of Tony Sanchez defensively, but the Eagles should be able to get a serviceable catcher to come into the program and play.

BCI: How do other ACC programs view BC's success this season, particularly in the ACC baseball championship? Do you think they see BC's success as a bit of an aberration? Or given BC's success against Georgia Tech and Miami (FL) in the ACC tournament, did the Eagles serve notice to the rest of the league that they can be competitive in the ACC?

TCBB: Miami (Fla)'s head coach Jim Morris stated before the season that Boston College was a team to watch and it came true. The victories in the ACC Tournament are nice and all, but you need to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament now as this is the time of year when push comes to shove.

BCI: There is certainly no love lost between Boston College and the Big East. So we had to chuckle a little when the ACC fielded a record-tying seven teams while the Big East only received one tournament berth (Louisville). How much of a factor was the switch in conference affiliation in terms of snapping our 42 year NCAA tournament drought? In other words, would BC have been able to get to this point if they were still a member of the Big East?

TCBB: The biggest difference between BC in the Big East and BC now is that the program is fully funded. Yes, the ACC is a much better conference but there are some years that the Big East gets 3 or 4 teams into the NCAAs. Plus the Big East team in Louisville is actually hosting a regional this year.

BCI: We don't know much about our opponents in the Austin regional. Give us a brief scouting report on Texas, Texas State and Army.

TCBB: I will have a complete Regional preview of every team in the country on my site in the coming days. Texas has a great pitching staff while Texas State has a solid hitting squad. Army was the best overall program in the Patriot League. However, the Black Knights really don't have any stars on the squad that could play at any of the other tournament-bound schools right now.

BCI: Should BC simply "be happy to be here?" Or given their success in the ACC Tournament, can Eagles fans expect BC to make a run at winning this opening regional and advancing to the super regionals?

TCBB: BC could win the regional. They just need some outstanding pitching and timely hitting. BC can play with any team in the country but they can also lose to anyone. See: the Holy Cross game this season.

BCI: Prediction time. First, the Austin regional. Here at BC Interruption we like to play a game called over/under. So over/under - 1.5 wins for the Eagles in the Austin regional?

TCBB: I will take the over. I say the Eagles beat Texas State twice and lose twice to Texas. I think it will be a disappointment if Boston College doesn't play for the Regional Title.

BCI: Which of New England's two NCAA tournament representatives will make more noise in the NCAAs? Boston College or Dartmouth?

TCBB: Dartmouth is 0 and 2 and barbecue. BC should at least win a game.

BCI: Who advances out of the Austin regional?

TCBB: Texas.

BCI: Last one, who ya got winning it all? Last time we had you on the blog back in March, you correctly picked Japan to win it all in the World Baseball Classic. So here's your opportunity to gloat a bit and double down on a correct championship prediction.

TCBB: North Carolina has an easy road to Omaha but they will lose to LSU in the College World Series championship series.

BCI: Thanks again for joining us Brian.

For all your college baseball needs and coverage of this weekend's NCAA regionals, go check out The College Baseball Blog.

Have something to say? Want to be featured on a future Five Good Minutes? Email us at bcinterruption at gmail dot com.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tournament Bound

Congratulations to the Eagles baseball team, tournament bound for the first time in a loooong time. Here is your Austin Regional:

No. 1 Texas (41-13-1)
No. 4 Army (34-19)

No. 3 Boston College (33-24)
No. 2 Texas St. (41-15)

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

ACC Baseball Championship Update and the Big Finish

Jeff: Brian, have you watched any of the ACC baseball tournament? Even though every seat has not been filled, it looks like there is decent fan support by NCAA baseball standards.

Brian: I've been following the action on Gamecasts so I can't really speak to how attendance has been at the ACC baseball championship. From the box scores, I can see that 1,518 were in attendance against Florida State and 1,194 watched the Eagles and Yellow Jackets yesterday. Is this a good draw? Bad draw? I have no idea. We're still new at this "our baseball team is now decent" thing.

Jeff: And how dumb is this tournament format? There are still two more days of round-robin play and Florida State has already clinched a spot in the finals.

Brian: Florida State had advanced to the Championship game out of Division A before Virginia and Clemson played their first of three games of the round-robin format. That is, indeed, crazy. That is going to happen every once in a while with this sort of format. It happens every so often in the FIFA World Cup too. This definitely gives FSU an advantage in the championship game as they can rest their starters in their game on Saturday vs. Georgia Tech and wait to see who comes out of Division B.

Overall though, I would say I prefer this tournament format to a single elimination or a double-elimination format. Participating teams are guaranteed three games and that can sometimes help out a team's NCAA tournament resume a great deal. That's exactly what has happened with BC. The Eagles actually rose in the RPI after their 7-2 loss to Florida State, and our RPI rose again today after the win over Georgia Tech. We are currently at #33, which should be good enough to get into the NCAAs.

Kendall Rogers of Yahoo! Sports has us as a tournament lock at this point and heaps on some praise for the BC baseball team. The College Baseball Blog's latest NCAA tournament projections have the Eagles as a #3 seed in the Oxford, MS regional. with Mississippi, Elon and Army.

Good luck to the Eagles today as they face Miami at noon.

Big Finish

Brian: This The Times West Virginian article discusses the possibility of Big Ten and Big East expansion, and mentions BC as a possible school for the Big East to scoop up to bring the number of teams back to 9. Yeah, right. Anyway, which will happen first - Big Ten expansion to 12 or Big East football expansion to 9?

Jeff: The Big East will expand. The Big Ten might never.

Jeff: Former BC standout Vinny Ciurciu returns to New England having signed with the Patriots. Will he make an impact on the team?

Brian: I hope he can be a solid contributor on special teams. Always have to root for former BC players. And Jeff, you must be especially rooting for him since he started his college career at Clemson before transferring to BC.

Brian: BC QB football recruit Joe Boisture competed in the Midwest Elite Camp last weekend and showed the "best overall passing ability" at the camp. Thanks to ACC Sports Journal for the link. You getting excited about the arrival of Boisture in 2010?

Jeff: Not really. I am not crowning him the future of BC QBs. It's way too easy to get overly exctied about recruits.

Jeff: The NAACP is not happy with the ACC rewarding the baseball tournament to South Carolina. Your thoughts?

Brian: I get that South Carolina is a central location for the conference to hold its baseball tournament, but I am more than curious as to why the ACC decided to break with the NCAA on this issue. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the last we'll hear on the issue.

Brian: College Game Balls takes a look at each BCS conference's 2009 out of conference strength of schedule and declares the ACC the weakest of the six. Although CGB uses a highly suspect mathematical equation, if this is indeed true, how disappointed are you in the ACC?

Jeff: I'm not disappointed with the ACC. The ACC needs to avoid marquee blowouts like Alabama-Clemson last year and LSU-Virginia Tech the year before.

Jeff: Here's an early look at the 2009 ESPN/ABC college football broadcast schedule. Not one BC game on the list. You surprised?

Brian: Not really. Maybe a tiny bit surprised that Florida State at Boston College didn't get picked up, but expectations are low for next season. At least Comcast finally picked up ESPNU.

Brian: To mark the occasion of Michael Vick being released from prison, Dr. Saturday gives us a Vick article. In said article, there is this highlight reel of Vick at Virginia Tech which came - of course - against Boston College.

Remember this performance, Jeff? I believe we were both in attendance. Bad memories. Can you remember a more dominant performance by an opposing player in Alumni Stadium?

Jeff: No, he was the man that day.

Brian: Last one, INCH wants the Frozen Four back in Boston after the 2012 season. I'll second that. What other cities would you like to throw back into the Frozen Four rotation?

Jeff: I might make the trip when its in Tampa if Boston College is there. I'd also go to Atlanta if it were there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

BC Gets in the Win Column at ACC Championship

Brian: The Eagles claim their first win in the ACC baseball championship:
DURHAM, N.C. ( - Sophomore third baseman Mickey Wiswall drove in Boston College's first five runs with a double and a pair of homers to lift the Eagles to a 7-3 victory over Georgia Tech Thursday in game four of the 2009 ACC Baseball Championship.

Wiswall began the Eagles' scoring with a bases-loaded, two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, after Boston College filled the bases with a hit batsman, an error on a sacrifice bunt and a walk. He followed in his next two at bats with a two-run homer to right field and a solo shot to left center.

Big W. Believe it or not - and despite yesterday's 7-2 setback to FSU - the Eagles still have a shot to play in the Championship Game.

Here is your rooting guide the rest of the way out:
  • Miami over Florida State
  • BC over Miami
  • Georgia Tech over Florida State
Miami and BC would then be tied atop the Division A standings at 2-1, with BC winning the head-to-head tiebreaker.

There is also this scenario:
  • Miami over Florida State
  • BC over Miami
  • Florida State over Georgia Tech
In this case, Miami, BC and FSU all tie at 2-1, and each team would have beaten the other in a bizarre three-way tie eerily reminiscent of this year's Big XII South football disaster. No idea who advances to the Championship final in this case. Do they use the final BCS standings too?

[UPDATED] has your answer: "Three Teams Tied: (a) The team with the best overall conference winning percentage in regular season play will advance; (b) The team with the best head-to-head conference winning percentage among the tied teams in regular season play, provided that all teams were common opponents during the regular season, will advance;(c) The team with the highest seed in the respective bracket will advance." Advantage: FSU.

Either way, based on my back-of-the-envelope math, the only way BC can win the Division A round-robin and advance to the Championship final is if the Hurricanes can defeat the Seminoles right ... about ... now.

Go 'Canes!

Food Chain: Most Indispensable Eagles for the 2009 Football Season

Brian: As spring football is now in our rear view mirror, we begin to look ahead as to what 2009 has in store for the BC Eagles football team.

Today we play a game of food chain that asks the question, Who is the most indispensable Eagle on the team next season?

Food Chain: Top 5 Most Indispensable Eagles for the 2009 Football Season

We consider these 9 Eagles and each rank our top 5 in terms of being the most indispensable to the success of the BC Eagles in 2009. Then we ask you to chime in in the comments section.

Boom, roasted!

Montel Harris
Last year, the freshman broke the BC freshman rushing record with 900 yards on the ground. He played with a chip on his shoulder and was a beast in his homecoming at Florida State (25 carries, 121 yards and a TD). If the Eagles offense is to be successful next season, we'll need Harris to duplicate or best his efforts from freshman year.

Dominique Davis OR Justin Tuggle OR Codi Boek
Do the Eagles have an indispensable QB on the roster? Will Davis get the nod? The quarterback position will be arguably the most important position on the Eagles roster in 2009. With a new offensive coordinator and a more up-tempo pace to the game, we'll need a capable field general to move the offense. But without knowing who the starter is, can any of these three really be considered to be 'indispensable'?

Frank Spaziani
The Eagles head coach provides what little consistency the Eagles will carry over from the 2008 season. New offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator, new offensive skill position coaches. It will be on Spaziani to keep the team focused, especially with one of the teams key returners likely being unavailable. Herzlich's news can have a profound effect on the psyche of this team, and the Eagles will look from leadership from the top to keep it all together.

Damik Scafe
Of course, one of the key losses to the defense is losing both Ron Brace and BJ Raji to graduation and the NFL Draft. It's certainly not easy to replace 647 pounds of running-stopping goodness up the middle, but Damik Scafe will try to do just that. Scafe is sort of an unproven commodity so far, having played behind Brace and Raji in 2007 and 2008, so there is some hesitancy as to how indispensable he is as a player. No question, however, that we'll need solid contributions from our DTs if we are to have a successful season.

Anthony Castonzo
I don't think anything more needs to be said about the importance to Castonzo other than this line from his player bio: "First true freshman to start on the BC offensive line in 10 years." Last season, he made the move from RT to LT and has started all 28 games in his two years with the Eagles. Castonzo adds consistency to our offensive line at the most important position on the line. At least, so says Michael Lewis in his book The Blind Side.

Mike McLaughlin
McLaughlin tops HD's list of players BC needs to make a comeback this fall. I would agree with her. McLaughlin is still very much a question as to whether he can return to form this fall after suffering an Achilles injury, but with Herzlich most likely not available in 2009, the Eagles linebacking corps will need a leader to step up and take charge.

Matt Tennant
Tennant is probably the second or third biggest injured Eagle question mark this offseason as he tries to recover from having Tommy John surgery. Should Tennant make a full recovery, he will likely be our starting center on the offensive line. Tennant and Castonzo are the two most tenured returning offensive linemen, as we'll certainly need that experience on the O Line given that we are breaking in yet another offensive playbook and possibly a new starting QB.

Rich Gunnell
Gunnell led the receiving corp with 49 catches and 4 TDs last season. He returns for his senior year as the #1 option at wide out. With the status of Clarence Megwa still up in the air, and the loss of Purvis to graduation, we'll need Gunnell to step up and be the #1 target for our starting QB.

Josh Haden
It's easy to forget about Haden given Montel Harris's success last season, but expect to see Haden more involved in the offense this year - especially the passing game - coming out of the backfield. Think: Andre Callendar. Haden was part of the second-best running back tandem in the country last season, and I would expect Haden to build on his 579 yards of total offense from his freshman year.

Brian's Food Chain

5. Damik Scafe - two reasons why he isn't higher on this list ... A) not nearly as worried about the defense as I am about the offense and B) hard to say someone is indispensible when they have seen very limited time on the field the last two seasons
4. Montel Harris - I actually expect to see Josh Haden get more involved in the offense this season, so Harris is no higher on 4th on my list given that I think we have two equally capable backs on the roster.
3. Mike McLaughlin - if he's available, we'll need a leader in the linebacking corps. If McLaughlin can't go, I'd throw Gunnell in at #3. That is assuming, of course, that someone can get him the ball.
2. Anthony Castonzo - it's the second most important position on the football field, behind only QB. Again, didn't you read The Blind Side?
1. Dominique Davis - or Tuggle, or Boek, your preference. Regardless of who it is, we will only go as far as our QB will take us next season. We saw what happens when you throw the backup to the fire last season (see: Davis' best deer-in-the-headlights impression from the Wake Forest game). I'll assume here that Davis is the starter, but if he's not, my #1 vote goes to [INSERT STARTING QB HERE] as the most indispensable Eagle next season.

Jeff's Food Chain

5. Damik Scafe - after losing Brace and Raji, we don't need to lose another DT to injury or for any other reason
4. Matt Tennant - if he reinjures his elbow and the O Line needs to be shuffled around, we are in trouble since the passing game is likely to be suspect
3. Mike McLaughlin - with Herzlich potentially out for part or all of the season, we can't lose another linebacker even though we are typically deep at that position. Get well soon!
2. Montel Harris - with a heavy dose of running expected this year, we need all three backs healthy whenever possible but if one in particular can't go down, it's Harris
1. Frank Spaziani - he's the glue holding everything together with lots of new faces on the coaching staff and Herzlich's tough luck

Jeff: We don't have an indispensable QB on the roster, Brian.

Brian: Wait, no Castonzo?

Jeff: I thought about him but went with our starting center.

Your list? Go.

What Could Have Been ...

Brian: My new favorite website has got to be This is awesome. You can take any D-I college football team and simulate a game against any other D-I college football team from any year going back to 1996. You can also simulate games for MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and college basketball. Let the offseason posturing and arguing commence!

You can use this site to answer the following questions ...

Could the 2007 Eagles with Matt Ryan under center have taken down the BCS champion Florida Gators?

Umm, yes! Other than the 52 yard field goal from Aponavicius. Let's be reasonable here, college football matchup simulator!

Could the 2004 squad led by Paul Peterson have knocked off the 2007 squad? I've got the 2007 squad defeating the 2004 team on a neutral field 20-10.

Just how much better was the 2007 Eagles squad from the 2008 team? 40-13 on a neutral field? Ouch.

And finally, did BC miss it by a year in terms of winning the ACC Championship Game? In other words, could the 2007 Eagles squad have run the ACC gauntlet and won the ACC and the Orange Bowl against our 2008 schedule?
  • at Kent State W 50-10
  • Georgia Tech W 48-13
  • UCF W 66-3
  • Rhode Island W 42-0*
  • at North Carolina State W 38-34
  • Virginia Tech W 34-13
  • at North Carolina L 13-7
  • Clemson L 25-20
  • Notre Dame W 50-14
  • at Florida State W 37-9
  • at Wake Forest L 31-23
  • Maryland W 24-16

The Eagles 9-3, 5-3 ACC record is good enough to place the Eagles in a four-way tie atop the Atlantic Division standings with Florida State, Clemson and Wake Forest. However, Wake finishes 3-0 against the other three teams atop the division and represents the Atlantic in the ACC Championship Game. Wake Forest proves too much for the Hokies and rolls in the ACCCG 23-3 in front of 7 fans. Wake Forest then goes onto crush Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl 41-3, stopping the ACC's eight game BCS losing streak and giving the ACC football a shred of respectability.

Since there was a four way tie at the top of the Atlantic Division, the 2007 Eagles are shipped off to Boise and crush a 2008 Nevada team on the blue turf, 38-3.

But hey, at least we beat Notre Dame by 36 points at home, right?

Thanks to JB for the link.

Have any interesting and/or painful simulations?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Closer Look at Historical Men's Hoops Attendance

Brian: I alluded to this earlier today in the comments section from yesterday's post. Using the NCAA's website, here's a closer look at Boston College men's hoop attendance going back to 1992-1993.

YearGAtt.Avg.DI Rank% FilledPrev. Record

Or in colorful graph format:

First, know that Jeff and my perspective is from 2000 on, ever since we were Newton Campus freshmen. When we were freshmen, anyone who wanted student season tickets got season tickets. Men's hoops was basically off the radar in the consciousness of Superfans, as the Eagles were coming off 6-21 and 11-19 seasons.

So the million dollar question is why the drop off in attendance, particular from the 2005-2006 season to the present.

A good friend's dad - who put two kids through BC - wrote us today to say that he was convinced that the primary reason for the low turnout is that students can no longer get access to student tickets. We are told for the past three seasons, some students that want a full student ticket package aren't able to get the full season and instead half to settle for 1/2 season packages, or in some cases, no tickets at all. Now I have no doubt that students can find creative ways of getting tickets to games that they don't have tickets for, but don't discount the effect that these new, more exclusionary ticketing policies have on students in terms of losing interesting in support a team.

While I agree that the changes in student ticketing policies may be a factor, I don't think this tells the whole story. I think there are several factors at play in the declining per-game attendance numbers since 2005-2006.

Jeff might have been onto something when he suggested attendance lags behind the team's success by 1-2 years. While not 100% correlated, take a look at the previous year's records in the years where we had the highest % filled.

This seems to tell part of the story, but I'm still baffled by the 13% drop off between the 06-07 and 07-08 seasons. Perhaps the current season's team record has much, if not more, influence on attendance than the previous season's record. That year, the Eagles stumbled to a 14-17 finish, good for last place in the ACC. And at times, it felt like they were losing every ACC game they played (two 6 game losing streaks).

Some other considerations for the drop off in attendance:
  • The honeymoon is over. The allure of playing the Florida States, Virginias and Georgia Techs of the college basketball universe has worn off on Eagles fans. Since these teams have to travel greater distances to get to Chestnut Hill, you can count on less opposing team fans in the stand. In the Big East, I think you could have expected more of the opposing teams fans to show up to BC home games, especially local teams like Providence, UConn, Syracuse, St. John's and Seton Hall.
  • Ridiculous ACC start times. A Tuesday night 9pm start for a game against Florida State is a fairly tough sell for locals and even students. Checking the box score for that game, BC only reported 4,968 in attendance for that game. And FSU came into that game ranked in the Top 25. For 1 of 8 ACC games that we host every season, having less than 5,000 is pretty awful. Someone from the AD should be in the ACC's ear about putting an end to 9pm starts.
  • Too many varsity sports? Is the ratio of varsity sports to undergrads now out of whack? Consider we have the highest number of varsity sports in the ACC (31) and the third smallest undergraduate enrollment.
  • BC globalization. With the ever increasing national distribution of the BC alumni population, it seems like more and more grads are moving away from the greater Boston area after graduation. (Note that this is just my perception. I haven't looked at any alumni demographic trends. Most everyone I know from BC has left Boston and Jeff & I are only five years out from graduation.) Recent grads that stay local are a captive population of potential season ticket holders whose numbers that may be shrinking.
All valid reasons for the decline in per-game attendance. If hard-pressed to pick one, however, I would point to one that has previously gone unmentioned.

Take a look at the number of home games played over the past 17 years. In the last 3 seasons, we have played 18, 19 and 19 home games - the most number of home games over that span (and likely the highest number of home games in one year in program history). As the number of ACC home games is fixed every year, that means that those additional games are against the Bryants and SC-Upstates of Division I. Those aren't particularly interesting draws. Add to this the fact that we refuse to schedule some of our former Big East rivals like UConn, Georgetown and Syracuse in basketball. We certainly have a justifiable reason for not scheduling these teams, but this cuts down on the number of local, high-profile out of conference matchups the Eagles can schedule.

My fear is that with an increasing number of home games per season, is the Athletics Department even focused on the issue of average per-game attendance? More home games means more revenue potential, and at the end of the day, does it really matter how many fans we draw for a December 31 game against Sacred Heart?

After all, the AD and the department are judged on dollars and cents, not butts in seats.

Your turn. Having seen the historical data, what's the reason that the Eagles men's basketball per-game attendance has steadily decreased over the last 4 seasons?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Headlines: Men's Basketball Attendance Ranked 99th Nationally

Brian: I just read this blog post about how Siena men's basketball team placed 72nd nationally in men's basketball average attendance last season, according to an annual report produced by the NCAA office. The article goes on to state how Siena topped the average attendance of many major power conference schools, including Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Stanford, Georgia, Mississippi, USC and Boston College. But just how bad was it last season for the Eagles?

The Eagles ...
  • Ranked 99th nationally in men's basketball average attendance with 19 home games, total attendance of 105,418 and average attendance of 5,548
  • Filled Conte Forum to 64% capacity on average over those 19 home games
  • Finished 11th out of 12 ACC teams, only topping Miami (FL)'s average attendance of 4,537 a game
  • Were outdrew by such basketball powerhouses as the aforementioned Siena (7,497), Missouri State (7,147), Illinois St. (7,118), Charlotte (6,184), VCU (6,106), Hawaii (5,889), Evansville (5,863), and Oral Roberts (5,625), among others

As a conference, the ACC ...
  • Finished 3rd in average attendance with 10,943 per game, behind the Big Ten (12,519) and the SEC (11,625)
  • Attendance was down an average of 329 per game year over year, the second lowest decrease of the major power conferences (behind only the Big East)
  • Drew the most attendees of any of the major conference tournaments, with an average of 26,352 attendance over the 6 sessions, and a total of 158,112

Jeff, I know we play in the second smallest arena in the ACC (ahead of only Miami's BankUnited Center with a capacity of 7,900), but are you a bit surprised in these numbers given that the men's team got back to the NCAA tournament and hosted a #3 ranked Wake Forest team, a #11 ranked Clemson team and a #5 ranked Duke team at home this season?

Jeff: Brian, I am not surprised even a little bit. We talked at length about how poor attendance was this year and when you watched other ACC games on TV you rarely saw the same number of empty seats compared to Conte. There often seems to be a one year lag in attendance relative to what the team accomplished so hopefully next year will be better and I would bet money that Maryland's attendance, for example, will drop.

Brian: What, if anything, can be done to get attendance back up over the next couple of years?

Jeff: Well, first, where do you think BC should be on this list? I mean, seven schools averaged higher per-game attendance than Conte's capacity. BC should maybe be able to push 7,000 per game but that is about as good as it will ever get because they might pack the house for all ACC games, but some of those out of conference games will always be played in front of 3,000 or so. Last season was bad, but it was probably mostly due to the previous year's sub .500 season. I would love to see fewer season ticket packages sold and half season packages offered instead because I think if you have tickets to fewer games you would be more inclined to attend each one. However, I don't anticipate that happening.

Brian: I realize that BC is certainly constrained by having one of the smallest arenas in the Conference, and it's basically a glorified hockey rink at that. But to control for differences in the size of the conference's various arenas, I thought it would be interesting to look at the attendance % filled. I wasn't as disappointed with the turnout in terms of raw numbers, but was pretty disappointed when you look at BC's average attendance % filled.

TeamGamesAvg Att.Capacity% Filled
North Carolina1521,03521,75096.71%
Virginia Tech169,41410,05293.65%
Wake Forest1512,12214,40784.14%
Georgia Tech177,4779,19181.35%
NC State1813,45619,086*70.50%
Florida State167,89712,10065.26%
Boston College195,5488,60664.47%
Miami (Fla)164,5377,90057.43%

The 64% was better than only Miami, an ACC program without much basketball history to speak of. Teams that had mediocre to downright bad years this year, like Virginia (4-12) or Georgia Tech (2-14), outdrew BC by quite a bit in terms of filling their home arenas. This might have something to do with the proximity to other schools or capacity rates may lag behind by a few years as you suggested.

Not sure if its a ticket pricing issue, a reworking of the student ticket policies, or a strengthening of our out of conference schedule, but I only hope that over the next few years we can get the capacity of Conte up to be more competitive with the rest of the conference.

Jeff: Let me reiterate that I strongly believe that Georgia Tech and Virginia will feel the effects of this year's season in next year's attendance just as we paid this year for last season. Next year will be better for Boston College regardless of any changes to prices or policies.

Brian: Not so sure that Georgia Tech or Virginia will see drop offs in attendance if this guy or this guy have anything to say about it.

*NC State played two games at Reynolds Coliseum (14,000) and 16 games at the RBC Center (19,722). A weighted average was used for capacity in this case. It's an art, not a science, people.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baseball Secures First ACC Championship Berth and the Big Finish

Brian: Yesterday the baseball team knocked off No. 4 North Carolina yesterday 3-1 to secure a spot in the 2009 ACC Championship.  This was the first W against UNC since the Eagles joined the conference in 2006.  The Eagles notched the victory just at the right time, as they had dropped crucial non-conference games to LeMoyne and Connecticut over the last two weeks.  The College Baseball Blog has the Eagles as one of the last 5 teams in the NCAA Tournament.  Will yesterday's win be enough to get BC off the bubble and into the NCAA regionals?

Jeff: Let's be honest, I am not going to pretend I know enough about NCAA baseball to disagree with TCBB but I think another win against UNC wouldn't hurt or a few wins in the ACC Championship would lock us in.

Brian: The Heels must have been pissed we took game 1 yesterday because they came out blazing today, defeating the Eagles in what could be mistaken as a low-scoring football score - 16-10.  Hopefully the team can regroup and take the rubber match (Saturday 1pm).  It would be nice to end the regular season on a high note just as we opened the ACC schedule - with a series victory over a Division champ.  Plus we could use a win tomorrow to build some momentum going into the ACC baseball Championship.

Speaking of the ACC Championship, seven of the eight tickets have been punched for Durham. Florida State, Clemson and BC have already made it from the Atlantic, and Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia are in from the Coastal. Duke and Virginia Tech are battling for the eighth and final spot.

This year's ACC Baseball Championship action begins on Wednesday.

Big Finish

Brian: The ACC awarded the ACC baseball Championship to Myrtle Beach, SC for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. The tournament will be played at BB&T Coastal Stadium, home of the Carolina League's Myrtle Beach Pelicans. It is a somewhat bold move considering the ACC is going against the NCAA's ban on predetermined championship events in the state of South Carolina. You know, because of that whole Confederate flag flying over the state capitol issue. You like the selection?

Jeff: Yes. This is good for South Carolina. Down here, college baseball is only a step behind college basketball in terms of popularity.  Hopefully the conference will be able to attract the casual college baseball fan to attend the games in 2011. Not to mention it's centrally located to most of the ACC teams.

Jeff:  This past week, ACC coaches voted unanimously to kill the idea of an 18 game ACC basketball schedule.  Your thoughts?

Brian:  Not surprised at all.  While this deal might have increased the revenue from the ACC's TV deal, it certainly wouldn't help each school's ticket gate.  Two more league games would likely mean at least one less home game against Directional State U. 

Brian: The Dagger takes a look at the ACC's men's basketball coaches and ranks Al Skinner in THE UNINSPIRING AND/OR JUST PLAIN BAD category.  That category - of course - being the worst of the five categories.  Fair or foul?

Jeff: Very foul.  He's done a lot with the program that has the least tradition of any ACC team.

Jeff:  Speaking of Skinner, did you know he is on the NCAA ethics committee as the ACC's representative?

Brian:  I did not know that fact.  Ever to excel, eh?

Brian:  Doc Saturday outlines scenarios where fans should be rooting for their team's non-conference enemies next season to help boost your teams' "quality wins."  It is a given that we'll root for Northeastern, Kent State and Central Michigan during the regular season but will you also make an exception for Notre Dame?

Jeff: No.  A win at Notre Dame is always looked at as a quality win regardless of whether they finish 6-6 or 9-3 so I will not be cheering for them at all.

Jeff:  College Hockey News gives us an early projection of the Top 10 in 2009-2010.  BC doesn't make the Top 10.  You surprised?

Brian: Yes, very surprised.  Don't sleep on the Eagles.  Last season, the Eagles tallied their lowest goal total for the season (112) in the Jerry York era, and the lowest in 48 years.  They also lost a lot of 1 goal games.  The only question mark will be Muse, as USCHO is reporting that he will be out until November.  York and the staff are scrambling to recruit a third goaltender.

Brian:  It's only May, but that certainly doesn't prevent any early offseason celebrity trash talking when it comes to college football.  Regis Philbin recently predicted that Notre Dame would win 11 games and make a BCS bowl this season.  That cool with you?

Jeff:  This is crap.  The thing that makes it possible though is that while most teams in America need to win a major conference to go to a BCS game or at the very least go 10-2, Notre Dame only needs to go 9-3 and do it against a schedule that is probably weaker than if they played in a major conference.

Jeff: Last one, did I read corrently in a comment this week that a commentor didn't realize that I am the biggest supporter of an annual Boston College vs. Connecticut football matchup? I would love to see BC play Notre Dame, Penn State, UConn and one cupcake as their annual OOC games. Can you come up with a better out of conference slate?

Brian: You read correctly. I was as surprised as you. Sad to say Notre Dame is done with us after 2010, so for purposes of this exercise, I am done with them. I guess they grew tired of us beating them year after year. I've got Penn State, Syracuse, a healthy rotation of Vanderbilt/Stanford/Northwestern (the smart kid bowl) and Army - to replace the I-AA game, with the hopes that one day the shame of scheduling I-AAs will return.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Here's To Wishing Mark A Speedy Recovery

It's hard to put into words how Eagles fans are feeling given the news today about Mark Herzlich.  One of the great things about blogs is that they can add some humanity to the otherwise plain vanilla stories that come over the newswire.

Here is a sampling of the well-wishes from around the blogosphere attempting to do just that.  

Dr. Saturday:

"Even for relatively diehard fans, it might have been possible to get through the last couple seasons knowing Mark Herzlich only as "the guy with the crazy facepaint," but that would be missing the lead: The 6'4", 240-pound Boston College linebacker was the defensive player of the year in a conference that had six defenders picked in the first two rounds of this year's draft, and might have joined teammate B.J. Raji in the top-1o if he hadn't decided to come back for his senior season at B.C.

Pray today, then, that the football chapter of Herzlich's story isn't closed after the sure-fire All-American disclosed that he's been diagnosed with cancer."

Eagle in Atlanta:

"Not knowing Mark, but knowing his father a little, I feel confident that the whole family will have the passion, humor, perspective and faith to deal with what they are facing."'s Heather Dinich:

"This is heartbreaking news.  One of the best things about my job is talking to the players, and I can tell you that Herzlich is one of the best.  He's very well-spoken, intelligent, a natural leader, and an amazing football player.  If anyone is strong enough to fight this fight, it's Herzlich."

Every Day Should Be Saturday:

"With early detection, his prognosis is very, very good, but all happy thoughts ot Herzlich, who after all is nasty enough to kick something like cancer's ass, but also nice enough to help nuns shovel snow (even if they have goatees)."

Gobbler Country:

"Pardon my humor, but I just feel really bad right now ... for the cancer.  I have no doubt Herzlich will destroy the disease just like he destroyed ACC offenses last year.  Here's wishing him a quick recovery."


"Mark Herzlich, we at TSF offer our best wishes to you and your family as you battle through this and, as fans of football the way it is meant to be played, we hope that you beat this cancer into a bloody pulp and mash it into the ground so that we can see you on the gridiron again this fall."

We can only add to this to keep Mark and the Herzlich family in your thoughts and prayers as he beats the C. We certainly will honor Mark's request for privacy in this matter, but do want you to know that Eagles (and non-Eagles) nationwide are rooting for you.

We'll look forward to seeing #94 clad in face paint back on the field soon.

Mark Herzlich Is Battling Cancer

Boston College senior linebacker Mark Herzlich disclosed today that he has been diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a malignant tumor most often found in bone or soft tissue.

The following is a statement from Herzlich:

"This past week, I got some news nobody wants to hear. After undergoing some tests to determine the cause of some pain I had been experiencing in my leg, I learned that I have Ewing's Sarcoma.

"Obviously, I was shocked. I had been extremely focused on preparing for my senior season at Boston College and for life beyond that. Now, I must channel all that energy into facing my toughest opponent yet, and that is exactly what I will do.

"I have returned to Pennsylvania to be near my family and to undergo a series of tests that will help my doctors determine the best course of treatment. I will keep you informed about my progress, but for now, I would like to ask for privacy as my family and I make some tough decisions.

"At this point, I do not know what this means for my football future, but I am determined to rid my body of this disease so that I can put that uniform back on. Thank you in advance for your prayers and concern. Together, we will fight this and win."

The following is a statement from Coach Frank Spaziani:

"We all were stunned when we heard this news. Mark is a member of the BC football family and one of the most recognizable faces on our campus. From the day he stepped foot on our campus, he has been a leader on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.

"When people think of Mark Herzlich, they think of a fearless individual who is always ready to take on a tough opponent. His integrity, determination and focus are unmatched. I know he will face this challenge with that same attitude.

"Our thoughts today are not on football, they are on Mark Herzlich. His health is our only concern, and we will stand beside him every step of the way."

Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with Mark and his family today.

If you get the chance, please leave Herzlich a message at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Cop/Bad Cop: The Best Days of BC Football Ahead?

Welcome back to the precinct. Today Jeff and I discuss several BC football offseason storylines in a game of Good Cop / Bad Cop.  Let's get our first suspect.

Suspect #1 - The best days of BC football ahead of us

Brian as Good Cop:  Interesting read on the Virginia Tech blog Blogsburg wondering whether the glory days of Virginia Tech football are in the past.  Sidenote: in my opinion, the answer to that question is yes.  The glory years for Virginia Tech football were clearly the 1999-2000 era.  Undefeated regular season, BCSNCG appearance, 22-2 record.  While everything in college football is certainly cyclical and I'd expect Virginia Tech to again compete for a National Championship in my lifetime, I don't think they'll ever get back to the Michael Vick era dominance of 1999-2000.  They are in a much tougher conference now, both in terms of number and quality of opponents, have an extra game to win with the ACCCG, and programs like Florida State and Miami aren't going to be terrible forever, right?  Simply too much parity these days in college football.  But I digress.

Are the best days ahead for BC football?  The answer to that question is a resounding yes.  I fully expect BC to win an ACC championship in football in my lifetime. (Heck, every team except BC, Miami, North Carolina and NC State has won an ACC championship in football in my lifetime. Yes, even Duke!)  The 2000s have arguably been the best stretch of BC football since the 1940s, with the Eagles going 80-35 (.696) since 2000.  But I'm guessing a 12-2 or 13-1 season will happen one of these years.  We've been so close the last two years, but I would argue an ACC championship would top this recent stretch, and possibly even the Flutie and Frank Leahy era of the 1940s.  It is easy to say that Doug Flutie and/or Matt Ryan isn't walking through that door, and equally easy to predict a drop off the next few years.  But our football program is only getting better with the move to the ACC.  The conference switch has only provided the football program with increased revenues and more and more national exposure.  The next Flutie/Ryan will come, and BC will top the 11-3-0 2007 season in the next 10 years.

Jeff as Bad Cop:  The best days of BC football being ahead of us would mean that we would have a stretch of seasons better than the past several.  That is not going to happen.  Back to back ACC Championship Game appearances and ten straight bowl appearances are going to be tough to beat.  Also, the question implies the relatively near future and I think it is impossible to predict that BC will be any better than the last 2-3 years in a 2-3 year span over the next five years.  I think the potential is there to be just as good and an ACCCG trip might turn into an Orange Bowl trip but one season with an ACC Championship would not mean that a couple year span is better than the last few have been.  We are in the middle of the best years of BC football.  They are not ahead of us.

Suspect #2 - Virginia Tech AD Jim Weaver asking ACC coaches to try to schedule non-conference competition no farther than one state removed (and no farther west than the Mississippi River)

Jeff as Bad Cop: I do not understand this at all. Not to mention Virginia Tech has hardly abided by their own "rule" either as last time I checked, Nebraska is west of the Mississippi where they played last year.  Not every ACC school needs to play Big XII and Pac 10 teams every year but there need to be a few matchups each year so that poll voters can have something to judge relative conference strength on which plays a key role in who plays in BCS games.

Brian as Good Cop: This statement is nearly impossible to play the good cop on but I'll give it a shot anyway. All Jim Weaver meant by this statement is to suggest a creative way to keep football travel costs down in this economic downturn.  The truth of the matter is most of the ACC programs are doing this already starting in 2009.  North Carolina State has 0 out of conference road games next season and most programs that do play out of conference road games are staying close to home.  Clemson's only out of conference road game is intra-state (at South Carolina) as are both of Miami's out of conference road games (at Central Florida, at South Florida).  Teams will have to use their discretion, however, as this rule can't possibly be a hard and fast rule for every ACC school.  If it did, you are basically giving BC the opportunity to schedule only the following D-IA teams out of conference: Connecticut (which should never happen), Army, Syracuse and Buffalo.   

Suspect #3 - This Florida State booster's idea for ACC divisional realignment - swap Georgia Tech for Maryland

Jeff as Bad Cop:  If the ACC is going to realign, they can do a lot better than simply swapping Georgia Tech for Maryland.  The best solution would probably be a North/South alignment but it's all a waste of time talking about it since the conference schedule is set through 2015.

Brian as Good Cop: The conference schedule may be set through 2015, but that wouldn't preclude the conference from making a move before then if push came to shove. As Gobbler Country points out, the conference has already made a scheduling change in baseball with the move of the 2010 ACC baseball championship from Boston to Greensboro next season. The reasoning/excuse? Decrease travel costs ... in this economy.

The conference has seemed to pick and choose which cost cutting measures they want to pursue, but this certainly could be another one of those. Swapping Georgia Tech for Maryland moves the conference closer to having a pure North/South alignment, with the only exception being BC would still be in the Atlantic (a.k.a. the ACC South) and Miami still in the Coastal (a.k.a. the ACC North). But really, those two teams will have to travel pretty far anyway for most road ACC games and this move would decrease travel costs to some extent for 10 of the 12 teams.

This alignment ensures that Florida State and Georgia Tech, the Seminole's closest geographic ACC opponent, would play every season in football, and also moves the Georgia Tech vs. Clemson and Maryland vs. Virginia permanent rival games intra-division. With the new alignment, you backfill the permanent rival setup with Clemson vs. Maryland and Georgia Tech vs. Virginia, and this Florida State booster is happy.

Suspect #4 - ACC rule change where road teams no longer have to wear white jerseys

Brian as Bad Cop:  I don't have really strong feelings about this but I will play the bad cop on this one.  What's the point of this?  I mean, I thought it was kinda cool when Pete Carroll made a point of having USC wear their red jerseys at the Rose Bowl when they played UCLA for the sake of tradition.  But I don't see the point of this ruling.  For BC, we're not going to stop wearing our maroon jerseys at home.  And it would only cause mass confusion if a Florida State or a Virginia Tech wore their home jerseys in Chestnut Hill ... it would be a maroon fest of epic proportions.  The only teams that might be able to capitalize on this ruling are North Carolina or Georgia Tech, who have light-colored home jerseys.  I wouldn't have a problem if UNC came to Chestnut Hill wearing their Carolina blue uniforms or Georgia Tech showed up in their Vegas gold.  Otherwise, this rule change is dumb.  The rest of the ACC's home uniforms colors are too distinctive that you would never want to watch a game with two teams wearing their home colored uniforms.  Imagine watching a game with Clemson or Miami in orange vs. Florida State or Wake Forest black unis.  Or how about Maryland or NC State in red vs. Miami in green.  These color combinations would surely cause an epileptic seisuze.  No thank you. 

Back in 2003, the NHL changed their rule to be that home teams had to wear dark colors, which flew in the face of 30+ years of tradition where the home team would wear white.  That was a dumb rule change and so is this.

Jeff as Good Cop:  I think it would be great to be able to wear a gold jersey on the road just like the basketball team wears at home sometimes.  Jerseys would have to be approved by someone who would have to avoid the red and green combo and any other confusions.  ACC officials are a little smarter than you give them credit.

Brian as Bad Cop: The officials won't be signing off on this, the teams will before the game. I would be the good cop on this if the Eagles did have a gold jersey they could wear on the road, but gold jersey and gold helmet? Not sure that would look so hot.

Last one, Suspect #5 - BC football attendance is recession proof

Jeff as Good Cop: Two years ago, the Eagles played essentially the same home schedule where Florida State was the only marquee opponent to come to the Heights. Attendance was great throughout that season despite the weather being bad for multiple games that year. BC fans will be back out in force this season for ACC games since the Eagles will not lose their first home game as they did last year to Georgia Tech. If the team can win at Clemson in September, Alumni will be full the rest of the season and I fully expect Spaz to get the season started on the right foot.

Brian as Bad Cop: There will be multiple factors that contribute to lower attendance at BC football games in 2009, and the economy will certainly be one of those.  But the economy won't be the only factor in lower attendance.  It certainly doesn't help the Eagles that the schedule isn't doing them any favors this year.  No Virginia Tech, Clemson, Notre Dame or Miami at home this season.  In addition, a bunch of relatively obscured out of conference opponents come to the Heights this fall in Central Michigan, Northeastern and Kent State.  As you mentioned Jeff, the only headliner is Florida State, but two years ago we didn't even come close to selling out the FSU home game.  Granted the weather was terrible but the Eagles went into that game 8-0!  There isn't the buzz surrounding the team that there was for Matt Ryan's senior year - new head coach and coaching staff and possibly new starting quarterback certainly contribute to this.  And lastly, the economy will certainly be a factor in attendance in 2009.  People everywhere are cutting back on discretionary expenses and this could very well be the difference between going to all 7 home games and instead going to 2-3.

For those number-oriented nerds reading this, here are the raw attendance figures over the last two seasons.  Attendance was actually down by 6,669 in 2008 from the 2007 season, but that can solely be attributed to the fact that we swapped a decent I-AA UMass team for a terrible Rhode Island cupcake last season (a difference of over 11,000 fans).  Read into these numbers what you will, but with Florida State being the only marquee team coming to Alumni Stadium this fall, it wouldn't surprise me if we didn't sell out Alumni once this season.

Ga Tech40,106Wake Forest42,292
UCF41,267NC State42,513
Rhode Island32,628Army40,329
Va Tech44,127UMass44,111
Clemson41,863Bowling Green40,117
Notre Dame44,500Florida State40,065