School: Wagner College
Recommended Blog: n/a
Conference Affiliation: Northeast Conference
Date of Game: September 24, 2016
Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Head Coach: Jason Houghtaling, 2nd year
There’s something to be said for a coach tasked with replacing a legend. Before Houghtaling took over last season, Walt Hameline stood at the helm of the Seahawks for 34 seasons.
Hameline took over the Seahawks program when Wagner was a Division III Independent in 1981. By 1987, they were a national champion, going 13-1 and capturing the D3 national title with a 19-3 victory over Dayton.
A member of the Liberty Conference in 1992, the team reclassified to Division I-AA in 1993, then joined the Northeast Conference in 1996. After reigning as a powerhouse at the D3 level, they were decidedly mediocre through the most of their I-AA/FCS tenure, until they won the NEC in 2012 and advanced to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. In 2014, they finished as co-champs once again with a 5-1 NEC record.
But that’s Hameline, and that’s the history of Wagner’s program. That’s not Houghtaling. The offensive coordinator under Hameline, he also served as the offensive coordinator at Cornell, having quickly worked his way from a position coach at Wagner 10 years ago to Division III coordinator, followed by an FCS coordinator position.
2015 Season: 1-10 (1-5 NEC)
Recapping the 2015 Season
BC fans conceivably won’t care about why the Seahawks struggled last year, so we’ll come back to that. We’ll instead focus on the two games they played against FBS opponents.
They opened up the season traveling to Houston to take on the Rice Owls, losing 56-16. Six games later, they traveled to Utah for a date with Brigham Young in Provo; they lost that game 70-6.
That BYU score should set off red flags because of its final score resemblance to the Boston College-Howard game. Wagner mustered six first downs against BYU thanks to 129 yards of offense. BYU went a combined 23-27 passing for 411 yards and four touchdowns. Two rushers went for over 100 yards, including Algernon Brown, who totaled 109 yards on six carries, averaging 18.2 yards per carry en route to two touchdowns.
While Wagner had supremely more success statistically than Howard did against BC, remember that BYU is an independent, not a power conference team.
As for the rest of the Wagner season, they really struggled. They opened the year 0-9 with only one loss by one score or less (a 9-6 loss at home against Robert Morris). They were blown out, 26-3, by Columbia, a team that went 2-8 and finished tied for last place in the Ivy League.
In their last two losses of the year, which bookended the win over Central Connecticut, opponents outscored Wagner by a combined 85-27.
Preseason Excitement Level: 2/10
The FCS game never carries that much excitement. That’s just the way it is.
BC will do what it can to recoup its lost ticket sales; this year, the FCS pu pu platter game is packaged as Spirit Day, an invitation to high schools, youth bands, and cheerleading teams to participate in activities. It doesn’t make the game any more enticing, though it will do what it can to avoid the inevitable attendance drop.
There are two small pieces that might make this game a little enticing. It’s the first home game, so there’s a chance to finally see this team up close and personal. After three games, we’ll know what BC can do away from Alumni Stadium, and that home opener will have some interest as a result.
If this Eagles team enters this game with a 2-1 or 3-0 record, that’s going to create an interest factor as well. Beyond that, though, there are much more enticing options on the menu.