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Food Chain: O'Brien Era Accomplishments

Jeff: Instead of attempting to guess the final score of Saturday's game, or rip Tom O'Brien for all those WTF losses … let's play a little food chain and remember TOB's greatest accomplishments.

Brian: (bites his tongue)

Food Chain: The Five Greatest Accomplishments of the Tom O'Brien Era

We consider the following 8 accomplishments of the TOB Era (1996-2006) and ask you to weigh in on the best accomplishment of them all.

BC beats Georgia in 2001 Music City bowl
The Eagles went into Nashville and upset then ranked #16 Georgia 20-16. The win got the Eagles to 8-4 for the 2001 season and broke a 21 game losing streak against ranked opponents. The opportunistic Eagles capitalized on four Bulldog turnovers as William Green rushed for 149 yards on 35 carries for two touchdowns.

Boston College goes to Notre Dame and beats the then undefeated Irish in 2002
Almost any of the Boston College wins over Notre Dame could have made this list, but this one was the biggest statement win of the entire O'Brien era. BC limped into this game at 4-3 (0-3 Big East) but somehow did just enough to beat the 8-0 Irish in South Bend. The loss ended the Irish's BCS title game hopes and turned around the Eagles season, as they finished the year 4-1 to push their record to 9-4.

Recruiting Matt Ryan
Arguably no player has had a bigger impact on Boston College football in the last twenty years than Matt Ryan. Ryan did it all – 27-10 as a starter, 9,313 yards passing, 56 touchdowns with over half of them coming in his senior year. It's just a shame he didn't get a shot at starting sooner in his career.

BC beats #12 Virginia Tech to get first road win against a top 25 team in conference under O'Brien in 2003
Boston College said farewell to the Hokies for a year by knocking off the 12th ranked Virginia Tech squad 34-27 in Lane Stadium. Paul Peterson hit Grant Adams for the winning touchdown with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter. With the win, Derrick Knight rushed for 197 yards and became the Eagles all-time leading rusher. The Eagles would win their bowl game to push their final season record to 8-5.

Continuing to graduate players
Boston College's lastest football APR (academic progress rate) continues to rank within the 80th-90th percentile in the sport. The multiyear score of 972 includes the 2003 through 2007 academic seasons, and is well above the average for both public institutions (925) and private institutions (958). BC may have had one too many WTF losses under O'Brien, but O'Brien's discipline helped the school graduate their players and do things the right way.

Embracing O Line U
O'Brien did a great job of continuing the O Line U legacy at Boston College. Big offensive linemen thrived in the O'Brien offense and no one realized the benefits of our impressive offensive lines than our running backs and quarterbacks. Of the 22 Eagles currently in the NFL, 11 of them are on the offensive line.

Opening Up The Midwest Recruiting Pipeline
Even though Eagles fans lament the annual game against a crummy MAC team, these games served their purpose of exposing Boston College to the Midwest recruiting pipeline, specifically in and around Cincinnati, Ohio. O'Brien, a product of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, did a good job of opening up this recruiting pipeline to compensate for the lack of high-quality recruits in New England. Nick Larkin, James Marten, Clif Ramsey, Matt Tennant, DeJuan Tribble, Jeremy Trueblood, Mathias Kiwanuka are all products of Ohio or Indiana.

Boston College beats Clemson in back-to-back overtime games
The first – a 16-13 overtime win – in Death Valley was the first ACC victory for O'Brien. The Eagles lead by backup Matt Ryan jumped out to a 10-0 lead but didn't score in the second half. Brian Toal punched it in from the 1 yard line to give the Eagles the victory, a game Jeff and I attended. The second was a 34-33 double overtime victory at the Heights decided by a blocked extra point. Jeff Smith provided the Eagles highlight reel footage with a 96 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

O'Brien gets BC to 8 straight Bowl Games
In 1999 he took BC to the bowl where the team got blown out. After that he won six. Finally he got BC to the Car Care Bowl before quitting. Coach Spaz filled in for TOB and Steve Aponovicious kicked a last minute field goal to get us a victory over Navy.

Brian's Food Chain

5. 2001 Music City Bowl victory – Eagles ruin Mark Richt's first season with a big bowl win
4. Continuing to graduate players – we needed this not only for the positive reputation it gave the program and the school, but also to distance the program from the gambling scandal
3. BC beats #12 Virginia Tech on the road – This may have been the most surprising win of the O'Brien era
2. Recruiting Matt Ryan – led the Eagles to their first 11 win season since 1940 and highest mid-season ranking in the AP poll (#2)
1. Boston College 14, Notre Dame 7 – it certainly didn't matter as much as a conference game, but this was a statement win and the most satisfying for Eagles fans

Jeff's Food Chain

5. Recruiting Matt Ryan - This could be #1 but he later effed things up by not starting him sooner.
4. BC beats Georgia in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl - People like Lou Holtz need to remember this as one of our victories when they talk about BC having the longest bowl winning streak in the nation.
3. BC beats Virginia Tech on the road - before this happened it seemed like we would never get over the hump. TOB never beat Miami but at least he got the Hokies
2. Boston College over Notre Dame in 2002. Maybe the most excited I've ever been at a game.
1. Taking Boston College to 8 straight bowl games. TOB will ultimately do something similar at North Carolina State. No BCS games, but probably several Meineke Car Care Bowls ...

That's it. That's the list. Try to remember the good times and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.