The ACC Roundtable is back, this time to wrap up the 2011 ACC football season. Brendan from From Old Virginiais hosting. His questions and our answers below.
1. How did the season go, relative to expectations? For bowl teams, are you ahead or behind the slot you thought you'd be at the beginning of the year? For non-bowl teams, is the season indicative of a trend or simply a bump in the road?
Boston College massively underachieved relative to expectations in 2011. I don't think most fans expected this Eagles team to take the next step, but I do think the generally accepted fan expectation was another 8-4 / 7-5 type season, an appearance in the program's 13th consecutive bowl game, a respectable finish in the ACC Atlantic (third-ish) and a fast start with a weaker first-half schedule.
The Eagles' first-half schedule of Northwestern, at Central Florida, Duke, UMass, Wake Forest, at Clemson seemed like a manageable one in the preseason. Expectation was the Eagles could realistically expect to get 4-5 wins from this slate and pick up a few more Ws on the second-half of the schedule that included four road games in BC's final six games. Going 1-5 in the first half of the season obviously put a big, big wrench in those plans.
BC is clearly behind where most fans thought this program would be in the preseason. As to whether or not this is a trend or simply a bump in the road, I think most agree this is no bump in the road. The Eagles have gone from 11 wins to 9 wins to 8 wins to 7 wins to now 4 wins. Things may get a bit better in 2011, but I don't think things will get appreciably better in 2012.
2. It looks as though this will be the first offseason since about 2005 or so in the ACC that sees no head coaching changes. For each of your head coaches, on a scale of -10 to 10 with 10 being "we're building him a statue as soon as he retires, which we hope is never," and -10 being "when they build the space elevator to the moon, we're tossing that loser inside and locking the door," how badly do you want to fire or keep your coach?
-10. And is there room in said elevator for the A.D., too?
3. Besides head coach if you're way on the negative side in question 2, what one change do you want to see on your team for next year?
Retain the services of a competent offensive coordinator for an entire season. This year, Eagles fans thought that first-year OC Kevin Rogers was the guy that would be able to turn around Boston College's stagnant offense. Two games later, Rogers mysteriously took a leave of absence for "health reasons."
BC's offense has been led by three different OCs now in three years -- Gary Tranquill, Kevin Rogers, Dave Brock -- and there's a very real possibility that a fourth will take the reigns for next season. The way I see it, the instability at the position has hurt the development of QB Chase Rettig and has overseen a significant regression on the offensive line. It also begs the question as to how much influence Spaz has on the offense, as the Eagles offense has not gotten appreciably better in three years under three different OCs.
So for that one change, I want a competent OC that has the autonomy to call his own offense. I also want Spaz to stay as far away as possible from the offensive play-calling and decision-making.
4. How do you feel about eventually going to a nine-game ACC schedule, if the ACC does indeed go that route?
After Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the conference, it only makes sense for the league to also move to a nine-game conference football schedule. BC lost a traditional rival in Miami with the 2005 realignment and now only faces the 'Canes every few years. All indications are that the ACC will keep its existing Atlantic and Coastal Division alignment and slot Pitt in one division and Syracuse in the other. Barring a change to the permanent cross-division pairs, a similar fate could befall either BC-Pitt or BC-Syracuse, which would be a shame.
With the Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten either currently playing or planning on moving to a nine-game format and the SEC likely to follow suit after the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, it only makes sense that the ACC also move to a nine-game schedule.
5. Who do you want in your division, when they finally join the league: Pitt or Syracuse?
Syracuse, for two reasons. One is that Syracuse and BC have a long history on the gridirion. The Orange are the Eagles' second most-played opponent in school history behind only Holy Cross. The two schools are very similar in that they are the only two private schools in the Northeast that play big-time college football. The two schools share an interstate, a long history and draw on a lot of the same students. The BC-Syracuse rivalry is a great add to the conference and is sure to heat back up when the Orange finally do move over (whenever that is).
The other reason is BC and Syracuse actually already have a long-term non-conference football series scheduled from 2013-2021. The idea was that BC and Syracuse would end the regular season facing one another on the same weekend that some of the southern ACC schools were off playing their in-state, SEC rivals (Florida State-Florida, Clemson-South Carolina and Georgia Tech-Georgia ... suppose you could throw in Wake Forest-Vanderbilt, too). When Syracuse moves to the ACC, I'd like to see that game played on the same weekend, joining games like Virginia-Virginia Tech as intra-conference rivalry games.
The problem with this is if the ACC sends Syracuse to the Coastal Division (separating BC and 'Cuse), this sets up the possibility -- however rare -- of an ACC Championship Game rematch the following week (stop laughing!). This would be an epic fail, and not just because the ACCCG matchup would pit two Northeast private schools against one another in Charlotte (this is also a reason why the Big Ten keeping Ohio State-Michigan on the regular season's finale weekend is an epic fail). As such, I don't think there should be any Atlantic-Coastal games to end the regular season.
Intra-division games also carry more weight in the division standings, natch, and generally add a bit more spice to the rivalry if there are ACC Championship Game implications on the line at season's end (think: Virginia-Virginia Tech game, which has become a de facto Coastal Division title game twice in the last five seasons).
6. What was your team's best single play of the season? Which single play would you change the outcome of if you could?
It seems like this season was devoid of any real highlights, but I think Eagles fans were treated to a great one when Luke Kuechly picked off Jacory Harris and returned it 30+ yards for a pick 6, all while stiff-arming a Miami defender and willing his way to the end zone. If that's the last image we have of Kuechly in the maroon and gold, I can't think of a better way for him to go out.
Conversely, there are several plays I'd like to change the outcome of if I could, but I'd have to go with Nate Freese's FG miss in the Duke game. Yes, BC lost to Duke this year. Duke football. At home. This is how far Boston College football has fallen.