Brian: Easily the best news of the week was that Mark Herzlich returned to practice yesterday after a year away from football battling cancer.
"Mark Herzlich roamed the dome-covered football field at Boston College's Alumni Stadium, sharing with his teammates the techniques and wisdom that had him destined for NFL stardom before a cancer diagnosis delayed -- but did not derail -- his promising career.
With his hair and eyebrows growing out and even a short beard to serve as an exclamation point on his recovery, Herzlich returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma."
It’s still too early to tell whether he will be ready to go for the season opener against Weber State, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against it. Say Herzlich can return to the starting lineup to play with senior Mike Morrissey and Luke Kuechly in the linebacking corps. Going into next season, BC easily has the best, most fearsome set of starting linebackers in the ACC, no?
Jeff: Probably the best but I wouldn't say easily. Will Herzlich be better than McLaughlin was this year? I think so but many other people are not expecting much. It will also be interesting to see how Kuechly does next year now that opposing offenses will be talking about him during their game planning. I personally expect Kuechly to have a little sophomore slump not only in numbers because of Herzlich being back but maybe he'll lose a little speed while trying to put on weight and actually hurt his playmaking ability. I think there are too many questions in the linebacking unit to start talking too much about BC being the best in the conference just yet.
Brian: What do you expect Herzlich’s contribution to be next year?
Jeff: I am expecting another Defensive Player of the Year type performance out of Herzlich next year. I don't have a ton of experience with people recovering from cancer and returning to sports at such a high level but we can point to Lance Armstrong and Mario Lemieux as examples of athletes that were able to come back and return to the same level as they were at before leaving their respective sports temporarily. I would also think that with Mark being healthy and back on a full workout schedule now, he has plenty of time to get ready for football in September.
Brian: The Emerald Bowl was one of three ACC bowls that saw a drop in attendance year over year (along with the Meineke Car Care and Orange Bowl). Cause for concern?
Jeff: Absolutely not. The other four ACC bowls all gained in attendance and these three are easily explainable. Pittsburgh < West Virginia, Georgia Tech < Virginia Tech and USC < Cal.
Jeff: Dr. Saturday ranked Luke Kuechly as the 5th best breakout player of 2009. Agree with this list?
Brian: Not really, but I will say that Jason Pierre-Paul and Jared Crick benefited from the presence of Selvie and Suh, respectively.
Brian: HD went all decade ranking crazy this week. She ranked BC the third best ACC program, Jagodzinski the 6th best coach, O’Brien the 9th best coach, and the 2007 11-3 BC team the third best team of the decade. Any beefs with those rankings?
Jeff: Not at all. The 2007 team was pretty darn good.
Jeff: The ACC is 13-20 in bowl games since 2005 while the Big East is 16-6. Is this significant?
Brian: Maybe a little, but it's all about who you play. The Big East's record is propped up by playing in lesser bowls.
Brian: Pat Forde called out the Eagles basketball team as one of four historical underachievers in the ACC. What say you?
Jeff: BC will be on these type of lists until we make a Final Four.
Jeff: Eagle in Atlanta is pumped about our latest women's basketball recruit. Are you?
Brian: No. 7 best recruit in the country? Sounds good to me.
Brian: Last one, very winnable basketball game tomorrow against the Hokies. Who ya got? What’s the final score?
Jeff: I'm going with my heart and will say Boston College 72, Virginia Tech 67. The Maryland game shocked me last week and I hope that doesn't happen again tomorrow.