(Musings from The Heights, aka Boston College)
First a few numbers. When the Boston College football team opens its 2016 season against Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland on Sept. 3, it will be 516 days since the Eagles won an Atlantic Coast Conference game in football or men's basketball.
It will be 643 days since the Eagles last won an ACC football game.
One of the cliches which coaches like to use is that there is no carry over effect from season to season in terms of losing-or--winning. Each chapter is new and the past is not prologue for what will happen.
But in the case of Boston College an exception must be made. In watching more than a dozen seasons on a consistent basis and following the ups and downs of BC football for more than 25 seasons, I can't remember a more important opening game for the Eagles than Georgia Tech.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The Eagles HAVE to beat the Yellow Jackets. They have to shed that losing streak. While it is merely a footnote for the rest of the country, for BC it is a burden which must be eliminated as quickly as possible.
When Coach Steve Addazio talked to the media on Thursday about his team, he had the usual coach speak of optimism. He was asked if following last season's 3-9 performance, in which the Eagles lost 5 games by 3 points or less, he thought the program was headed in the right direction.
Addazio was emphatic in his answer
""I don't need to prove it to myself or anybody really,'' said Addazio, who is beginning the fouth season of his tenure at BC. ""To be honest with you I know the program is going where it is supposed to be going.''
The problem, of course, is that fewer and fewer people know that and the list of people who care is shrinking, which should not part of the foundation for any football program.
BC football--and to an even greater degree BC basketball- has dropped to the most dreaded of categories, which range from great to horrible. BC has fallen into the "irrelevant'' division.
Not only are the Eagles bad, but not many people care.
Since the height of the modern era at The Heights when QB Matt Ryan and Company brought the Eagles to a No. 2 ranking--in the country--BC has tumbled in interest. A season ticket base which had reached above 35,000 in 2007 has shrunk to below 10,000 this season, which is a ridiculously low total.
The Eagles do not help their own cause with a system of self promotion which boggles the mind. Take Media Day, for example. The Eagles held theirs on Thursday, which was the same day as a Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park and the Patriots home pre-season opener in Foxborough.
The Eagles are never going to compete on an equal level with the professional teams in Boston, but a media day opening on say Monday, the first day of practice with less competition might have helped.
But the football ship run by Addazio moves in many, oftentimes unexpected, directions. Addazio changes schedule times for planned events, creating havoc for the people who are trying to promote his program.
It doesn't seem to matter, Addazio is in his own world, which might be more tolerable if the product on the field was high grade. Last season it was not and this season's optimism is based more on hope than past performance.
Having said all of that, the Eagles might and should be better than last season when their defense--led by defensive coordinator Don Brown--was Top 10 caliber, while their offense wasn't even at an FCS level.
Addazio has recruited well in making changes in his coaching staff. He has brought in a fith-year graduate transfer at QB from the University of Kentucky, who has an SEC pedigree and a leadership trait that was hard to find anywhere on the team last season.
Reaching six wins (bowl eligibility) does not seem an unreasonable goal, looking over a schedule that is user friendly. Non conference games against Buffalo, Wagner, UMass and UConn should have the Eagles favored in all of them. Wake Forest, Syracuse and North Carolina State all should be in the toss-up category at worst.
But the key in terms of perception and perhaps confidence is the game against Georgia Tech, which is technically a home game for the Eagles. Only BC could pull off a daily double of having a "road'' game (last season) against Notre Dame in Fenway Park (less than 5 miles from campus) and a home game against Georgia Tech in Dublin, 2990 miles.
If the Eagles beat Tech, coming off its own 3-9 season, many things seem possible including a 4-1 start, since factoring in a road win against Virginia Tech on Sept. 17th seems unlikely.
But what if Georgia Tech wins? The Eagles could then be a disheartened, beat up (playing Tech is never physically easy) team, coming off a long road trip against a UMass team which has everything to prove and nothing to lose. That would be followed by another tough road game at Virgina Tech which provides a different perspective.
And then there is The Streak. For the record, BC's last win against an ACC opponent was a one point win over...Georgia Tech in the ACC men's basketball tournament on March 10, 2015.
The Eagles last ACC football victory was against Syracuse on Nov. 29, 2014.
A loss to Georgia Tech could be followed by a loss at Virginia Tech. The Eagles next ACC game would be home game against Clemson on Oct. 7. Does anyone see an upset against the nationally ranked Tigers?
Which would bring the Eagles full circle to a home game against Syracuse on Oct. 22, which would seem appropriate since the streak did START against the Eagles almost two full calendar years ago.
The countdown continues. [/membership]