(An outsiders musings about goings on at Boston College, aka The Heights)
The exit polls from around the country were not encouraging. In Hartford, Ct., the Boston College women's basketball team opened its 2016-17 season against an America East team, Hartford, with a 65-56 loss.
In Chestnut Hill, the Boston College men's basketball team opened its season against a Southland Conference team, Nicholls State, with a 79-73 loss.
In Tallahassee, Florida, the Boston College football team was again struggling in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 45-7 loss to Florida State.
The question must be raised: Is it time for BC to do more than shrug off an athletic embarrassment and do something about it, which would be a switch from what seems to be the university stance: If it's broke, don't fix it (or at least not right away)?
If these were one game speed bumps, the margin of error factor in any long season could be included.
But this is Boston College. Every season these days is a long one in the so called revenue producing sports.
But there is more, much more. Revenue is down, interest level is even lower--in a true evaluation statement of the state of the men's basketball programs, neither the Boston Globe nor the Boston Herald staffed the Eagles loss to Nicholls State, neither paper gave the game more than a few paragraphs of space.
And NO ONE--or very few people outside of a small core group of loyalists--seems to care.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Let's start with football, which is the main revenue producer at every Power 5 conference school. The Eagles' loss against FSU dropped them to 4-6 overall and 1-6 in the ACC. Under football coach Steve Addazio, the Eagles are 1-14 in the ACC in the last two seasons, which includes last season's 3-9, 0-8 meltdown.
Even in Addazio's first two seasons at BC, in which the Eagles went to a bowl game each year, the Eagles were only 7-9 in ACC play. Overall, in almost four full seasons at BC, Addazio is 8-23 in the ACC.
Addazio explained away last season as a year in which the Eagles were young and still rebuilding. But how many programs are "rebuilding'' in their fourth season?
In basketball, the picture is much bleaker. Men's basketball coach Jim Christian is just beginning his third season and has a combined record of 4-33 in ACC play, including an 0-18 white wash last season.
Women's basketball coach Erik Johnson is starting his fourth season at The Heights. Under his reign, BC has posted 12-19, 12-19 and 13-17 overall record. In his three seasons at BC, the Eagles (in the ACC) are 13-32.
So let's look at some numbers. Under the guidance of Erik Johnson, Steve Addazio and Jim Christian, BC has a combined ACC record of 25-88. Addazio is under contract through 2020 and Christian, following last season's winless ACC run, was given a year's extension on his contract by athletic director Brad Bates.
It is not new news that BC is in the lower tier of top graded facilities in the ACC, which, combined with the tough academic standards, can make coming to The Heights a tough sell.
Yet, with the right people in charge, success has been achieved at BC.
It wasn't that long ago (2007) that the Eagle football program was unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the COUNTRY while producing back to back ACC Atlantic Division titles. That was under the guidance of Jeff Jagodzinski, who was fired after two seasons because he went against the wishes of then athletic director Gene DeFilippo and interviewed with a job in the NFL with the New York Jets.
It wasn't that long ago (2005) that the BC basketball program won 28 games, made it to the ACC tournament title game and finished No. 7 in the COUNTRY.
Christian and Johnson have not combined to win 28 conference games in their 5 seasons at The Heights.
Although this season's football team still has a bowl appearance within reach--it will almost certainly take wins against UConn AND Wake Forest the next two weeks to achieve that goal.
Losses can happen in any program. FSU, for example, came into Friday night's game against BC with 3 losses. Although the Seminoles were blown away (63-20 ) by Louisville, their other losses came on a last-second field goal against North Carolina and a last minute TD by unbeaten and No. 2 ranked Clemson.
BC's losses to the elite teams in the ACC--Virginia Tech, Clemson, Louisville and FSU--have been downright ugly. The Eagles losses to those four teams was by a combined score of 202-24.
It has been even worse in the two Friday Night Lights show the Eagles have participated in this season against Clemson and FSU, with the Eagles being outscored by a margin of 91-17.
The latest loss on Friday night almost left the usually loquacious Addazio speechless. ""Not much to talk about,'' said Addazio. ""We've got two games to go. We're not making plays.''
No, they aren't, which begs another question about whether BC has enough good players or good coaches or enough good administrators to fix what is broken.
Amazingly enough, there is a narrow path in which BC and Addazio can turn this around in the next few weeks and perhaps save his job.
If there is a consensus about anything at BC it is that freshman QB Anthony Brown is the real deal, a potential star. Brown, who enrolled at BC in January, has yet to play a down this season and is being redshirted.
Conventional wisdom says it would be foolish to blow an entire season with only two games remaining. But BC and Addazio should be in a crisis mode and consider ALL of their options, including playing Brown as soon as next week.
BC needs to win games NOW. Neither BC's starting QB Patrick Towles is a graduate senior, who will be gone by New Year's , or back up QB Darius Wade, appear capable of producing those results.
Neither UConn (3-7) nor Wake Forest (6-3 going into Saturday's game at Louisville) is invincible. BC, with Brown, should beat UConn and it could beat Wake Forest. If that happens, BC would be in a bowl game, which would give Brown and the Eagles another few weeks of practice and a bowl game.
It is not a stretch to project a three game BC winning streak and a 7-6 record with a rising star at QB. That would be followed by a full spring practice to work on what he learned in three games this season. And that could give the Eagles, and Brown, a strong boost going into the Eagles' 2017 opener at North Illinois. which could be another winnable game with an experienced Brown at QB.
By not playing Brown this season, Addazio and his staff will deal with the uncertainty of testing an untested QB in a road game, or having to make a decision on who the Eagles' QB of the present, if not future, will be.
It could be argued that two games, two weeks of practice and a bowl game does not "squander'' a season, but rather saves a season.
And then there is this. What guarantee does Addazio have that either he or Brown will be still at The Heights in Brown's final year of eligibility?
Overall, BC must also finally address the elephant in the room, which includes BC president Father William Leahy, Bates, who hired Addazio and Jim Christian and Erik Johnson. Bates' contract expires next October and Leahy has been at BC for 20 seasons. Neither is expected to be at BC a year from now.
The Eagles may very well make no major announcements in the next few weeks. It is the way they do things at The Heights.
But it should be more and more obvious to anyone who is interested in BC athletics that in the words of newly elected President of the United States Donald J. Trump, it is time to "drain the swamp'' and to consider a new statement from which the newly elected POTUS knows well: You're fired.[/membership]