(An outsiders musings from The Heights, aka Boston College)
No new news from The Heights this weekend. But the Eagles didn't play, taking a week off to recover from a 56-10 pounding by Clemson.
But now the clock has again started. It is Armageddon time for BC coach Steve Addazio and for the immediate future of BC football.
Here's why.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
First a few facts:
The Eagles are 3-3 overall but 0-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their last ACC win came on November 29, 2014 against Syracuse, which is the team the Eagles will face next Saturday at Alumni Stadium. The Eagles' ACC football losing streak is now 11. If you add the 0-18 posting in the ACC by the basketball team, you have a 29 game losing streak in conference play in the two prime revenue producing sports and a dictionary picture of what an ACC bottom feeder looks like.
Syracuse is 3-4 and coming off a 31-17 upset of Virginia Tech, a team which crushed BC 49-0 earlier this season. What looked like a possible win, now looks iffy at best.
But if BC does win, the alarm bells will temporarily be shut off. The Eagles will have 4 wins, they will have ended their ACC losing streak and they will be two victories away from becoming bowl eligible, a goal that Addazio set for the team in the summer.
It will not be easy. The remainder of the Eagles schedule after Syracuse includes: at North Carolina State, Louisville, at Florida State, UConn and at Wake Forest. The Eagles will probably be underdogs in all but the UConn game.
If that holds up, BC will finish at 5-7 and that might be enough to save Addazio's job. But it is a close call, since in that scenario BC's ACC record in the past two years will be 1-15. Winning two games to finish at 6-6 looks like the line in the sand number for job security.
But if BC LOSES to Syracuse, then the "abandon ship'' alarm will be clanging for the rest of the season.
If this were just a football issue, the waters at The Heights would be less turbulent. But when you combine football with basketball and add the supposed lame duck status of athletic director Brad Bates, whose contract expires next June and the swirling rumors that BC President Father William Leahy will retire at the end of the school year, a major shake up throughout the athletic department seems inevitable.
The BC Board of Trustees has a meeting scheduled in November. There has been chatter that the Board could make some major moves, one of which will be to create a small committee that will deal with all athletic matters.
Addazio's future also is linked to his contract which does not expire until 2019. Barring a firing with cause, BC will have to write a pretty big check to make a change. But if BC has a two year record of 1-15 or even 2-14 in the ACC, it is difficult to see how a change can NOT be made.
The optimists in the room can view this gloom and doom stuff with disdain. And it can be fixed--at least for the short term--with a win over Syracuse on Saturday and a few upsets.
But the overall direction of an athletic program that has steadily declined in the last five years remains a key question, which has put Bates in a target zone. One of the cliches that coaches and ADs spout when they leave a job is this: Is this place better now than when you arrived?
BC isn't winning and the fans have stopped coming or perhaps even caring. Season ticket sales in football have dropped more than 20,000 in the last 10 years. Not good.
There is even chatter about some new potential ADs, with VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin's name mentioned as a likely candidate. The only mark against McLaughlin is that he has no FBS football experience, with stops at American U, and Niagara on his resume before he arrived at VCU in 2012. But he is a BC graduate, a great fund raiser and a rising star. If Bates does leave, McLaughlin will be on the short list.
There are also rumors floating that Bates is still in the mix to become the athletic director at San Diego State.
For Addazio, BC football remains a work in progress, but with a loss to Syracuse, the process of back-to-back losing seasons in the third and fourth year of your tenure is not a formula for long term job security.
How long the Eagles' will stay together internally also has become a key question.
Who is running the BC defense? Is it defensive coordinator Jim Reid or is it defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni who appeared to be calling the plays in the loss to Clemson? But after the Eagles last two ACC games in which they have been outscored by margin of 105-10, claiming such responsibility might be a dangerous move.
The Eagles had a good day on Saturday because they didn't lose. But the clock has begun on a week in which there is little wiggle room. It is Steve Addazio's most important game as head coach and the most important game in his four year tenure at BC. It is a game BC MUST win.[/membership]