I've seen written a few times: "This is just Boston College football bedding back down to the level of competition seen at other academically elite Division I-A schools." So let me get this out of the way early ...
That is nonsense.
Boston College football is not some shell of a Division I-A football program at one of the nation's elite academic institutions. There is no comparison to Boston College's program to that of Duke, Northwestern, Rice, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Tulane or SMU, at least historically. BC is a proud football school, one that has the 35th highest winning percentage all-time (.587), fourth among private schools behind only Notre Dame, USC and Miami.
To see this program at 1-4 (0-2 ACC) is simply inexcusable. Things have to change on the Heights. This is easily the worst football team I have seen play since hitting the Heights as a freshman over 10 years ago, and maybe even much longer than that.
That said, it's not too late to right the ship here and see a return to a proud, Division I-A football program. Here are five humble suggestions on how to fix Boston College football.
1. Clean house with the coaching staff. The entire coaching staff has to go. I'm sure Spaz is a nice enough guy, but when you start throwing players under the bus in postgame press conferences, you've officially lost the benefit of the doubt with the fan base and the team. When the one thing that you excel at -- defense -- is getting lit up week after week, it's time for a change. The school, this proud football program and the players simply deserve better. Bring in a youthful, energetic head coach that understands what Boston College football is all about -- bruising offensive lines, solid defense and recruiting guys that want to play big time college football at one of the better schools in the country.
For all his faults and bitterness towards the end of his tenure, Tom O'Brien understood what BC football was all about. This is why I think he was able to maintain a level of consistency never seen before at BC, and why he is seemingly struggling at N.C. State (given the difference in sales pitch down in Raleigh ... you can't teach an old dog new tricks?).
We need to inject some youth into this coaching staff and hire a head coach that understands what Boston College football is about. This coaching staff has lost its way a bit and no member of the current staff should be hired to fill the role left by Spaz. It's time to rip the band-aid off and start fresh.
2. Expand Alumni Stadium by (at least) 10,000 seats. To this, I say to hell with the neighbors. Alumni Stadium is simply showing its age and is now a sub-par facility for a program with as much history and tradition as Boston College. BC is a top tier college football program -- at least historically -- with bottom tier facilities. Alumni is currently the 10th largest stadium in the ACC and will become the 12th largest after Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the fold. The Yawkey Center is a start, but Alumni is in desperate need of a makeover.
Close in the end zones or expand the stadium vertically on the Shea Field side of the field as part of the school's Institutional Master Plan. Either way. Boston College's football facilities are standing still while everyone else in the ACC is either investing in their stadiums or planning to build on-campus football only practice facilities. If BC wants to continue to compete in the ACC, it cannot afford to stand still in the college football facilities arm race.
Along with this, I'd say improve the gameday experience, not the least of which includes relaxing tailgating restrictions, but I'm not sure that's even remotely possible.
3. Schedule smart. Why a program like this scheduled a home-and-home with Central Florida is simply beyond me (in a state where BC already plays nearly every season). An ACC program should be getting 2-for-1s against any program from a non AQ conference. Be selfish about scheduling. The Eagles need at least seven home games (at a minimum) a season to keep revenues up and keep people coming to campus on Saturdays. Balance the schedule with winnable games against AQ conferences (Northwestern, Stanford, etc.), traditional rivals (Army, Navy) and local I-AA schools.
Look at a school like Northwestern as a perfect blueprint for how BC should be scheduling smart. The Wildcats' AD has made it no secret that he's looking to schedule every program ranked in the Top 50 of USN&WR's latest Best Colleges rankings in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of recruits that are considering Northwestern and other similar schools. The theory is beat them on the field, and you make a high school kid's decision that much easier. This is a perfect philosophy for a school like BC and when combined with some traditional rivals like Army and Navy, strikes a good balance between the non-conference schedule and the ACC sched.
4. Embrace social media, create more media buzz and/or buy out Blauds. This program not only needs life injected into the coaching staff and the facilities, but also in its coverage of the media. Embrace blogs like this one, Twitter, Facebook and other new forms of media. Engage with the fan base. The newspaper and radio coverage of Boston College football is pathetic. Our Globe beat writer is more interested in attending the annual Big East meeting clam bake and stumping for Mark Whipple's triumphant return to New England than actually covering this team.
If you are going to build any excitement around this program and win over the sidewalk Alumni that have since turned their back on the program and the school, it has to start with improving the media coverage and buzz around this program. As much as we love to hate The Hartford Courant's UConn football beat writer and his BC rumor-mongoring, at least DC ...
1) knows how to write blog posts, including page breaks and proper formatting, and
2) is truly passionate about his beat.
DC has turned a fairly undesirable college football beat into a 24/7/365 one and for that, he has my respect. The Globe's Boston College football coverage is 8/5/210 ... in a good year. Our beat writer does the bare minimum and takes a six month vacation with only the Big East's annual meetings in Newport, Rhode Island disrupting his off-season slumber. How, exactly, is this program supposed to build any buzz locally when it is an afterthought in the Boston sports media?
5. Just win, baby! Like I said, this is not the Duke, Wake Forest or Northwestern football program (at least historically ... not taking away from your victories this season ... respek). This is a proud football program with loads of history, a Heisman Trophy winner, several undefeated seasons and most recently, at least a share of half of the ACC Atlantic Division titles contested since the divisional split in 2005.
No matter where you fall on the Team Jags or Team GDF fence, at least Jeff Jagodzinski injected a winning attitude into this program. There's none of this under Spaz, only lots of excuses. The "we're up, aren't we?" and "anemic" attitudes of TOB and Spaz permeate not only the team's mindset but also the fan base, the team and throughout Alumni Stadium on Saturdays. We simply need an attitude adjustment on the Heights. A shift in attitude and mentality at the top will trickle down to this team, giving them confidence week in and week out. Further, it will trickle down to the fan base, that may become more willing to open up their wallets and pay to go watch Boston College football.
These are just five humble suggestions from a writer who invests much more of his free time into this program and this school's athletics than any rational person would. Leave your thoughts on how to fix Boston College football in the comments section below.
Excel to Excel.