BC vs. Bolse is a Bowl Rivalry with Flavor

BC is playing Boise State in a bowl game, which brings back some fond memories for long time BC fans

(An outsider's view of what is going on at Boston College, aka The Heights)

It didn't draw more than a few seconds of attention in the frenzy of the bowl selection process on Sunday.

Not did it merit any extra attention.

Boise State will meet Boston College on Dec. 26th in the First Responder's Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The most noteworthy part of the event is that it will be played in the historic Cotton Bowl, which has special meaning for Boston College fans, who last made the trip to Dallas in the winter of 1984-85 to see a BC team led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Doug Flutie beat the University of Houston in the 1984 Cotton Bowl.

It was the last "New Year's Day'' quality bowl game BC has played.

This season's match-up against Mountain West Mountain Division champion Boise State has significance for another reason, which was told with some pleasure by Tom O'Brien on Monday.

O'Brien left The Heights in 2007 as the winningest coach in BC history. In 2005, the Eagles posted their second consecutive 8 win season, but the best bowl bid they could get was a match up against Boise State in what had been once called the Potato Bowl, but was now called the MPC Computers Bowl, which was being played on Boise's home field.

The Eagles flew west to face a Boise team which was ranked No 19 in the country, had not lost on its home field in almost five seasons and lost only 11 games overall in that time span.

""We were having Christmas dinner out there and it was buffet service,'' said O'Brien on Monday, "but at the people at the end of the line came down to the potatoes and were told that they had run out of them, which I thought was kind of ironic (considering where they were).

Three days later, BC walked away with a 27-21 victory. ""We wound up eating ""sweet"" potatoes,,' said O'Brien with a laugh.

Since O'Brien's departure at the end of the 2007 season, the Eagles have had a few sweet moments.

In the past six years under Steve Addazio, BC has been an average to mediocre team with five 7 win seasons and one 3-9 wipe out. BC's overall record is 38-38, but in ACC play the Eagles are 18-30 during that time span and never posted a winning conference record. They are also 1-16 against ranked teams and 1-3 in bowl games.

This season was supposed to be a break through for Addazio , who has worked hard at recruiting his players for his system.

On the surface, it appears the talent is there. This season the Eagles had 13 players who earned All ACC honors and 4 players who are going to the Senior Bowl.

What jumps out at you is that the Eagles still finished the season with a 4-4 conference record, which does not match up with the individual awards earned.

BC athletic director Martin Jarmond recognized this and seriously considered changing coaches, but the compromise of giving Addazio an additonal year on his contract (his contract orginally ran through the 2020) was worked out, but BC has not publicly announced it

With good reasons.

The contract extension of one year is a smoke screen, designed to allow coaches such as Addazio to tell recruits that they have multiple years remaining and will be part of the program for much, if not all. of a recruit's college football career.

Almost no one believes that if the BC 76ers repeat another 7-6 record, Addazio will be on the clock to win next season or he will be gone.

And that would seem to put Addazio and BC at a disadvantage.

OBrien who had sustained success and a steady upward curve during his 10 years at The Heights, put in a recruiting strategy that Addazio and his staff follow to a degree.

""First of all, there aren't enough talented players in New England to sustain a program,'' said O'Brien. "We then put in a strategy that we would focus on kids from Catholic schools East of the Mississippi and then go into New Jersey as our main areas.''

O'Brien acknowledged that a recruiting war against Notre Dame was a lost cause. When asked how many kids that BC wanted and ND also wanted, chose BC, O'Brien laughed again. "None, '' he said. "But we did beat them on the field.'''


In 10 years at BC, O'Brien's team won 5 of the eight meetings between the two schools. Addazio is 0-2 vs. the Irish.

But O'Brien's recruiting philosophy was more long term than anything else. ""BC is a developmental school,'' said O'Brien, acknowledging the academic restrictions and lack (until recently) of practice facilities at The Heights. ""What you do is get a bunch of kids, work on them for a few years and get a group of fourth and fifth year seniors who emerge and develop into a good unit and you keep building on that.''

This season was designed as BC's break through season, (the awards would back that up). But the results have not matched the expectations. Next year will produce depth in the skilled positions, but massive rebuilding along the offensive and defensive lines.

Addazio may have one advantage in recruiting, which in many cases in the upper tier's of Power 5 conferences is based on football players making their decisions based on the coach, rather than the school.

As one long time observer of Eagle football pointed out, BC is different ""Kids that are recruited here come because they want to go to school here first,'' said the source who is not authorized to speak for the program.'

O'Brien did not dispute that assessment. "That does happen in many instances,'' he said of players coming to a school to play for a head coach. "At BC, there is more of a balance.''

Whatever the method, Addazio and his staff are in a full work mode with recruiting and preparing for Boise in bowl game. Addazio must also find a new offensive coordinator for Scott Loeffler, who is the new head coach at Bowling Green, although Addazio hinted that Loeffler might be back to help coach against Boise.

Still a replacement must be found and Addazio is faced with answering job security questions that recruits might ask to any staff moves he makes.

BC might promote from within, although sources familiar with the process said Addazio interviewed former UMass QB Liam Coen, who is now an assistant wide receivers coach with the Los Angeles Rams. Coen is expected to be offered the job on Tuesday.

How it all unfolds for BC and Addazio the next few weeks will be the next chapter in the ongoing fb battles at The Heights.