(An outsider's musing about what's going on at The Heights, aka Boston College)
I love Boston College. I love the campus, I love the atmosphere, I like most of the people who work there, I love dealing with BC kids, who are bright and funny and inquisitive.
But when you look at the overall picture, I have no idea what BC athletics is all about--and spare me the Forever to Excel stuff.
The problem--and it is a problem which has existed for the more than 30 years I have dealt with BC--is that the people who run the place don't seem to know either. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
I am not alone in that assessment. "BC is trying to find itself,'' said one long time BC supporter, "especially in athletics. We're gasping for air in basketball and in football we are trying to turn the corner.""
BC, which goes into the opening game of its football season in two weeks against Georgia Tech, has not won an Atlantic Coast Conference football game since November of 2014. It has not won an ACC basketball game since March of 2014.
The problems go far beyond Ws and Ls. They are linked to direction. When asked to define what BC's mission was, one longtime BC backer paused, ""I don't think anyone knows. We haven't been on the same page administratively and athletically since (football coach) Jack Bicknell, (Athletic director) Bill Flynn and (President) Father Monan were together in 1984.
The most common word heard around BC these days is disconnect. No one seems to know what anyone else is doing athletically. Athletic director Brad Bates has been a shadow figure, working within a very small circle of advisors, with one of the primary ones being ESPN college football broadcaster Joe Tessitore, a BC graduate who continues to play a key role in many administrative moves Bates makes.
Tessitore's credentials are impeccable, but presumably he is still outside the inner circle when decisions are being made.
BC's argument is that it is an academic institution first and that has priority over everything else. But that does not preclude the college from spending money to upgrade facilities, which are some of the worst among Power 5 conference members.
It does not mean you can't succeed athletically and academically.
The argument about academic excellence and athletic excellence being a difficult balancing act falls apart when you look at schools such as Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Duke, all who have produced Top 25 top programs and won national championships in football or basketball.
BC's priorities and promotions focus on the overall opportunity for the entire student body. It will promote--as it should--better facilities in baseball and swimming, while downplaying or ignoring better facilities in football and basketball, the revenue producing sports, which generate the money allowing the school to spend money in OTHER sports.
When BC boosters are asked about the school's athletic shortcomings, you sometimes get the BC arrogance answer, which is "We ARE BC and this is the way we do it.''
Well what BC is doing ISN'T working athletically and there is no justification for arrogance over most athletic issues. BC has dropped below the mediocre tag in football and basketball into the dreaded status of irrelevance, which means that teams aren't winning, and NO ONE cares enough to be upset.
BC is entering a pivotal period in terms of its athletic future. The next 100 days, the next nine months, could determine the direction of the program for the next 10 years. But there is no leader stepping out to represent BC athletics.
Bates, for a variety of reasons, can't or won't do it. The rumors about his future at BC continue to swirl through the athletic offices.
Addazio, coming off a 3-9 season, is still striving to gain equity.
Basketball is a non-starter. The most dominant figure on campus should be Hall of Fame hockey coach Jerry York, but while there is no one more supportive of BC athletics than Jerry York, he is not a ring master of a circus.
So as the football team prepares for a season and the chatter about BC athletics is nothing short of a whisper in most places, I walk around a campus I love and a school, which should be the epitome of what college athletics is all about, and couldn't begin to tell you what BC athletics is all about or where it's going... [/membership]