Brian: The last time Boston College football had a season as bad as last year, the year was 1998. The program started that season 3-0 with wins over Georgia Tech, Rutgers and Temple, but stumbled down the stretch going 1-7 down the stretch including a six game mid-season losing streak. BC would rebound in Tom O'Brien's third season on the Heights, going 8-3 during the regular season before getting waxed by Colorado in the Insight Bowl (remember when Colorado was good?).
For the 1998 season, there were ~113 Division I-A programs.
In the years following the 1998 season, programs at Buffalo (1999), Middle Tennessee State (1999), Connecticut (2000), South Florida (2001), Florida Atlantic (2006), Florida International (2006) and Western Kentucky (2009) have all made the transition to Division I-A, swelling the total total number of Division I-A programs to 120. Over the next two seasons, as many as seven additional programs will make the jump to Division I-A, including Massachusetts, South Alabama, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State (all this season) as well as Charlotte, Old Dominion (2013, to Conference USA) and Georgia State (2013, Sun Belt) will also make the jump. Charlotte, Old Dominion and Georgia State will swell the total number of Division I-A programs to 127 for the 2013 season.
With an increase of more than 10 percent of the total number of DIvision I-A programs in a little more than a decade, I'm wondering if the college football landscape has changed to Boston College football's detriment. In the face of increased competition in New England, particularly with programs at Connecticut and Massachusetts joining the ranks of Division I-A programs, I'm wondering if you think the road back to respectability / bowl eligibility will take longer for the Eagles?
That is a significant amount of additional programs -- with a full compliment of added scholarships -- with two programs threatening BC's stranglehold more locally in New England. Not to mention the increased competition of the ACC over the Big East. Your thoughts?
Jeff: The road back to bowl eligibility is not that long of a road from where we are now. You make a fair point that there are potentially fewer gimmes going forward than there might have been back in 1998 but other teams have problems too and BC was only two wins away last season. Even in Nick Saban's first year at Alabama they lost to Louisiana-Monroe at home. Given the history of Alabama that was a monumentally terrible loss but they were back to winning national championships just a few years later. The real question is whether or not BC can get back to bowl eligibility year after year and right now I don't think anyone feels that we're close to that. With Chase Rettig being a third and fourth year starter at QB these next two seasons, you can't rule out the possibility of BC making bowl games both of those seasons, but do we have confidence that the will go well once we lose last years group of sophomores that will certainly not lack experience on the field heading into the next two seasons, no.
With the addition of another in conference game, the possibility of going 2-6 in conference and still going bowling no longer exists. Winning four conference games is likely what it would take to make a bowl and even though every year there are some struggling teams within the conference, the schedule might play out that we only see one of those teams or none at all.
Brian: When I say "return to respectability / bowl eligibility" I'm talking less about a return to a bowl game this year and more about a longer-term about face for the program, where a minimum of seven wins and an annual bowl game are the general expectation. I think that with an influx of new programs, particularly in New England, this will become more difficult for BC.
The conference competition is tougher in the ACC than it was in the Big East, and as you rightly pointed out, the ACC's move to a nine-game conference schedule makes the task even more difficult. Finally, with significant changes to both the BCS / playoff and the bowl structure (including possibly raising the bar for bowl eligibility), the road back may be even more uphill than fans are expecting.
Brian: ESPN released a statement defending its new TV rights deal with the ACC. Weird, right?
Jeff: I agree with ATL that ESPN can keep Florida State and the league happy and should.
Jeff: The best thing I read this week you pointed out yesterday with the Orlando Sentinel calling out FSU and Miami for the ACC being a weak football league. The truth hurts, right?
Brian: Truly elite college football programs don't make excuses and even good ones at least own up to their own program failures.
Brian: Sounds like the proposal to host college football playoff semifinal games on campus is all but dead. Your thoughts?
Jeff: Good. They should all be neutral site games.
Jeff: BC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech are all competing for the final two spots in the ACC Tournament and all finished either 4-5 or 5-4 against each other so the odd men out have nothing to complain about, right?
Brian: BC needs two wins and some help now that they lost on Thursday.
Jeff: I see him as a possibility. It would be great if a WR ended up being the breakout player though.
Jeff: Jerry York's loyalties are being tested in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the series tied at 1, who ya got?
Brian: Obviously I'm rooting for the Rangers but if they don't pick it up, Devils take the series in 6. Doesn't matter though because the Kings are going to steamroll either NY or NJ.
Brian: Last one. The Orlando Sentinel thinks that by the end of September, the Eagles will know where they stand. Do you?
Jeff: I disagree somewhat because a 3-1 start is a very real possibility with us not even making a bowl game this season.