(An outsider's musings about the Heights, AKA Boston College)
So it goes at Boston College on a fall weekend in which the sky turned dark early with the news that the Red Sox had lost for the second consecutive night in their American League Divisional Series against the Cleveland Indians.
For the college football fans who came to a sold out (44,500) Alumni Stadium--at least half of them dressed as Clemson backers--Friday night's meeting between BC and No. 3 ranked Clemson --the drama ended early when Clemson sprinted to a 21-3 first quarter lead and never had to look back on its way to a 56-10 victory.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
For BC and Coach Steve Addazio the melodrama that has become life in Atlantic Coast Conference football followed a story line that has now spanned 11 consecutive ACC games and nearly two-calendar years in which the Eagles have yet to walk into a winning locker room after a conference game.
How bad was it against Clemson, which was working on a short week--so were the Eagles--following a tough emotional win over Louisville last week?
Well, take the first half. After an opening quarter field goal which was a gift from the Tigers following a muffed punt return, BC couldn't get out of its own way, including one sequence in which back to back fumbles by BC QB Patrick Towles at the Clemson one killed one scoring opportunity or got enough in the way to slow down Clemson's march which came in spurts.
By the time the game moved into the fourth quarter, many of the Clemson fans who came to the game as part of a fall in New England weekend, were headed back into Boston for a late dinner.
The BC fans--including a small group of BC students who hadn't left campus early as part the Columbus Day weekend--could only ponder the latest pot hole encountered by a football program which hasn't had many smooth trips the past few years.
What made it even worse for the Eagles was the presence of the ESPN-Friday night television crew which was obviously in town to see Clemson, the defending ACC champions. And once again, BC was not ready for prime time against a Power 5 or ACC opponent. In their last two games against Virginia Tech and Clemson, BC has been outscored 105-10.
There was a time not that long ago when BC football stood for something other than the national anthem. Those memories were tweaked this week when former BC football coach Jeff Jagodzinski talked to BC Interruption radio. In a candid interview, Jagodzinski, who was fired by former BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo after taking the Eagles to back to back ACC title games, has taken a year off from coaching this season to deal with some personal family matters. He had been dismissed from BC because he interviewed for a job as the coach of the New York Jets after DeFilippo told him such a move would get him fired.
""It was the best job I've ever had,'' Jagodzinski said in the interview in which he talked about BC football past, present and future.
Calling it the biggest mistake and regret of his career, Jagodzinski said if he could turn back the clock and reverse his decision to talk to the Jets, he would do it. '"We would have kept winning,'' he said."I was the right guy for the job.''
BC has not been close to earning a spot in the ACC title game since Jagodzinski left in 2009. Addazio replaced Frank Spaziani, who replaced Jagodzinski and put together back to back 7-5 bowl seasons in 2013 and 2014. But the Eagles tumbled to 3-9 last season, going 0-8 in the ACC.
The loss to Clemson on Friday left the Eagles at 3-3 overall, but 0-3 in the ACC going into what will be a pivotal game against Syracuse in two weeks, following a bye.
Beating Syracuse (the Orange were the last ACC team the Eagles beat on November 29, 2014) now looms as not only the key game of the season, but a pivotal game which could affect Addazio's future at BC. If the Eagles lose to Syracuse, the Eagles will drop to 0-4 in the ACC, with conference games remaining at North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Florida State and a home game against Louisville. Only a win at Wake in the regular season finale seems possible at this point. Although BC is contractually obligated to Addazio through 2019, it seems unlikely that he could survive a two year 0-16 or 1-15 stretch in conference play.
After the game, there was little that Addazio or the Eagles could say to make the loss more acceptable. It was a harsh reality check following two non-conference walk overs against Wagner and Buffalo. ""I told the team after the game that our goals are still in front of us'' said Addazio. ""We have to go after win No. 4.''
But if win No. 4 doesn't come against Syracuse, the consequences could be severe.
Jagodzinski in playful mood, said that he will watch what happens with interest. ""If they can't get it done, call Jags,'' he said. "We'll get things done in three years.''[/membership]