(An outsiders musings about Boston College, AKA The Heights)
Technically, Boston College, as a member of the Power 5 Atlantic Coast Conference, competes on an equal basis for titles and bowl games with members such as Louisville, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
The reality--for a variety of reasons, such as academic standards, facilities, fan support--is that BC's competition in the ACC is against Virginia, Duke and Georgia Tech and nationally against Stanford, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern.
Which begs a simple question? Why hasn't BC been as good as, or better than most, if not all of those schools?
Now you can argue that BC vs. Notre Dame is a mismatch in football tradition and importance and you would be right. But the competitive edge to the Catholic school rivalry has created a competitive rivalry, which will be resumed on Saturday when Notre Dame visits Alumni Stadium.
But what about BC vs. Stanford, BC vs Duke, BC vs Northwestern. Shouldn't that be a fair fight?
Well, it was once, and not all that long ago. As recently as 2008, BC was was the ACC Atlantic Division champ. In 2007 the Eagles were ranked as high as No. 2--in the country--and could face off against almost any team in college football without fear of embarrassment.
Under Tom O'Brien, the Eagles became a Top 25 type team. After O'Brien left in 2007, Jeff Jagodzinski won a pair of ACC Atlantic Division titles.
But since then there has been primarily mediocrity. Is it is as simple as coaching? BC's facilities do not match most of their competition. Nor does its fan base or the local interest in the program.
Why the Eagles can't do as well as schools such as Duke, Northwestern and Georgia Tech over the past few years is puzzling. But David Cutcliffe. Pat Fitzgerald and Paul Johnson appear to be more successful.
Out of curiosity as much as anything else, I went back over the last four seasons---the time frame for Boston College coach Steve Addazio.
Here is the list of the records (including this season) of BC's main competitors, including their maximum win season.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
1 Stanford 42-16 (12 wins)
2 Notre Dame 32-21 (10 wins)
3 Duke 33-21 (10 wins)
4 Georgia Tech 31-23 (11 wins)
5 Northwestern 28-24 (10 wins)
6 Boston College 25-27 (7 wins)
7 Vanderbilt 22-28 (9 wins)
8. Virginia 13-35 (5 wins)
Other than Virginia, which has been a football wasteland for the past several years, the Eagles have only outperformed Vanderbilt, which had a pair of 9 win seasons in the past five seasons.
The Eagles began this season with a sense that this would be a breakthrough moment. Addazio believed that he had the pieces he needed to win on a consistent basis. An opening win at Northern Illinois was a positive first step.
Last week's 34-10 loss to Wake Forest in their home opener was a major setback. The Eagles were lousy. There is no other way to describe it. Redshirt freshman QB Anthony Brown had three interceptions, including one returned for a TD.
Addazio gave Brown a public pep talk in his press conference this week. ""He's got a great mindset and he's off and running to a great week of preparation,'' said Addazio. ""We've got a great future with Anthony. So I couldn't be more fired up about him.'
Here is another reality check for the Eagles. Notre Dame comes to town this week with an increased sense of urgency, following a 20-19 loss to Georgia. A week later BC must travel to face defending national champion Clemson, which might have the best defense in college football. A week later, BC will host Central Michigan, which is 2-0.
After that, the Eagles dive back into the ACC race with games against Virginia Tech, Louisville, Virginia and Florida State. Only the Virginia game seems winnable and that is one the road.
Although there has been no definitive statement from new BC athletic director Martin Jarmond on Addazio's status (he is signed through the 2020 season), the prevailing theory was that it would take 6 wins to secure Addazio's job.
I could easily project a 1-6 start if everything went wrong. If that happens, could they win their last 5 games, considering that FSU will be one of the Eagles' last five regular season opponents?
The intriguing question for Eagle fans is whether Addazio is making progress. 7-6, 3-9, 7-6 doesn't indicate that. Look at a place like Georgia Tech, where Paul Johnson has done a superb reconstruction job. There has been one clunker--3-9 in 2015--sandwiched between 11 and 9 win seasons.
Duke dropped to 4-8 last season after winning 27 games in the previous three years. The Blue Devils are off to a 2-0 start this season after crunching Northwestern on Saturday.
It just seems that BC should be further along in the rebuilding process than it appears to be. A win over Notre Dame would again end a gloomy forecast of the future.
But the effort against Wake seemed to be an ominous note.
BC should be better.
It shouldn't lose to teams in its own skill set. Or certainly not lose by 3 TDs.
Once again, BC football and Steve Addazio have reached a crossroad, looking for answers.
"Don't worry we're going to find a way
I'm waitin, waitin on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin on a sunny day--Bruce Springsteen, Waitin on A Sunny Day[/membership]