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Coach's Corner: Is BC All In?

After the week that has just passed and the reaction of BCI-fandom, is it fair to ask the question, is BC all in on their athletic program?

How invested in athletics is Boston College?
How invested in athletics is Boston College?

Normally, I save the Coach's Corner segments for analyzing some component of the most recent Boston College basketball game. We could do that if we wanted to, but Louisville's evisceration of the Eagles on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center shouldn't have come as much of a surprise.

We can laugh and say that at this point, pretty much any team, stylistically playing in any manner, would be a problem for BC, but Louisville under Rick Pitino is about the worst matchup BC could have gotten.  The Cardinals offer size on the interior, pressure the ball full court and then play mostly matchup zone that takes away the ball movement and definitely the people movement that the Eagles would get out of their man offense..not that whether they've faced man or zone this year has really mattered.

What struck me though was not how the game played out, but rather the responses on this site post game.  This is an 0-10 team in the ACC and there were more comments than we've had for the past four or five games combined.

People are disappointed, people are frustrated and people are just plain angry about where BC basketball is right now.

But it didn't stop there.

I grant you we have the men's and women's hockey teams, doing what it seems they always do and we can never take for granted the level of year in and year out excellence that those programs deliver.  The women's program came from the pinnacle of college hockey with only the cherry on the sundae, that first national championship, still to capture and what more can be said about Jerry York?  As a kid, BC was either mediocre or underachieving on the men's side and now is the absolute gold standard for collegiate ice hockey. We are blessed there.

However, the program that gets the masses excited is football and although it is quite clearly a couple of elevator stops down below that nationally, men's basketball.  We know there are schools like Alabama that are football schools and schools like Kansas that are basketball schools, but they have an identity and although people may laugh at the level of regional pride an SEC school may have for football or how if you can't be a football school, you must be a basketball school, they are flagships that an entire country knows them for.

When people talk BC, it's Doug Flutie and then little more.  Hockey, as much as I love it, just doesn't have that grasp on the masses, either here or across the country.

So I ask, has there ever been a more sobering week in Boston College athletics than the one just passed?

On the football side, where last year in his interview with BCI Radio, Athletic Director Brad Bates spoke about the program being "really, really good" the next two years, there is serious doubt over whether the team can even be good, forget about really, really good.

As Eric Hoffses pointed out in his article last week on football recruiting, Coach Steve Addazio's aggregate classes have actually been ranked lower than Frank Spaziani's were and we know how critical Eagles fans were regarding Spaz' failures as a recruiter. All was supposed to be different in Dazzlerland, but with the Eagles at the bottom of the power 5 conference rankings along with other pigskin behemoths like Rutgers and Kansas, the future, both immediate and further down the road, does not look very bright.

The coaching staff has been ripped limb from limb, which in general is either a sign that your program is rolling along and your people are in great demand (see Don Brown) or that the rats are deserting the sinking ship..or in the case of the 2015 Boston College defense vs the 2015 Boston College offense..both.

Go back to 2007, where the Eagles, Jayhawks and Scarlet Knights all inhabited a top 15 spot in the national polls at some point in time during the season and it leads to the conclusion that many others have expressed about that season, that it was an anomaly rather than a norm.

To think that Boston College football is in a position over the next two years to compete with Clemson and Florida State for ACC Division titles, never mind conference or national honors is simply ludicrous.  The teams that recruit the best, win and win big.

As had been said in the past, you can recruit well and not win, but it is nearly impossible to win without recruiting well.  Players win games and right now, Steve Addazio cannot attract top quality talent to Chestnut Hill.

The basketball program has been in reverse now for the better part of the past decade.  A once proud program under the direction of Tom Davis, Gary Williams, Jim O'Brien and Al Skinner (although there have been small periods of significant drop off sprinkled in) has hit the skids.  Although it is not fair at this point to call Jim Christian's two year tenure here a failure, based on what he inherited and the turnover of the roster heading into this season, essentially forcing him to start from scratch, 0-10 in the ACC and attendance figures that not even Missouri State would be happy with have to give you cause to pause.

The Eagles have not finished in the top 100 in national basketball attendance since just cracking that barrier in 2009 at #99 nationally and are still on pace to finish with the lowest per season average for the program since Conte Forum was opened in 1986, in the 3,500 per game range.

Like their football counterparts, recruiting is a struggle for the hoop squad as well.

BC is currently #72 in the 24/7 sports 2016 class ranking, after finishing #71 last year with what we have all been told is a fabulous class, #127 in 2014, #99 in 2013, #74 in 2012..I think you get the idea.

Yet single sport schools, lacking both the financial resources and conference affiliation of Boston College are doing quite well thank you. Regional competition like UConn and Providence, most of the Big East for that matter, are all examples of programs that BC is being lapped by.

It all begs the question, is BC all in?

"All in" has become a familiar slogan at places like Clemson and Auburn, but is it just a slogan or really a way that the athletic department and university in general approaches its programs?

In this day of college athletics, It is common thought that if you aren't all in, you are really wasting your time.  Ole Miss in particular has taken this approach with its football program and has been able to accomplish things on the field that haven't been seen in Oxford, MS since the late 60s and early 70s when Archie Manning was under center for the Rebels.

Now I am not suggesting becoming modern day Louisville basketball or SMU football in the early 80s with their recruiting scandals, but is there a commitment to athletics in terms of facilities, in terms of status within the community, in terms of the hiring of the best coaches, etc to make these programs championship level in the ACC or nationally, or is "Ever To Excel" apply just to the academic arm of the university and to the hockey program with a long established tradition?

The Eagles have been part of the ACC for 11 seasons now and have managed just one title total in ANY sport over that period.  To me that wreaks more of wanting to take the ACC money and run as opposed to being "all in" to compete for and produce championships.

I am not saying that it is easy and I do not want the university to sell its soul to make this a reality, but the masses are restless and are being asked to pay a high price to support a product that is below substandard right now.

Is this just part of a down cycle in BC athletics that will eventually go in the other direction?  Can Boston College be competitive at the very highest levels of the ACC? Or is this BC's lot in life going forward?

After the Louisville game, I let this stew for a bit. I knew I wanted to write it, but I stepped back and thought about it..and thought about it..and thought about it. This isn't written to be over reactive to what we are experiencing this week or this year or the past several years.  It is not meant to come across as a raving yahoo looking for someone's head.  This is the trajectory the overall athletic department has been heading for more than a few years now.

If BC is not in this to win championships, then what exactly is the point and what leads any of us to see that a championship is in the cards for either of the major programs?

Given where BC is now, what we've seen is in the pipeline for the immediate future, the lack of facilities and community interest in relation to their peers and the people in charge of the respective programs..I BC all in?