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Random Sunday Musings

How do you explain this and what does it mean for Steve Addazio’s future?

Boston College v Louisville
AJ Dillon - BC’s Beast Mode
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A stream of random consciousness following BC’s Twilight Zone, 45-42 win at Louisville Saturday afternoon.

Well, it’s usually a stream, but today, we really need to focus on one topic above all and that is the future of Steve Addazio based on yesterday’s results.

But first and foremost - congratulations to the players and staff on the win. We tend to make light of some wins, particularly in college athletics where at times there are big talent disparities, but in conference, no matter who you play, wins are hard to come by.

The Eagles went on the road and beat the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at his own game, winning in a shoot out, something that seemed to be the only way they could do it, but was tough to see how.

The Merriam Webster dictionary has a definition of faith as - firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

One thing for sure is that Steve Addazio has faith in something that no one had seen any proof of.

Hey listen, I got it wrong, no question. In my weekly Coach’s Corner column, I had Louisville winning 38-16 and had all sorts of rational reasons why. I’ll give myself the smallest of outs in that the areas I talked about for either team winning the game definitely had a part to play.

Louisville played like it’s season was over, couldn’t stifle the BC run game at all and BC on the other hand, did do what other Power 5 teams had done to the Cardinals (and then some) and got 232.5 yards more than its per game total offense number.

When Colton Lichtenberg kicked the winning field goal at the gun (first game winner at the buzzer since the Steve Aponavicius FG to beat Navy in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2006, 25-24 (with Frank Spaziani as the interim Head Coach), I smiled, clap my hands hard once and then said to myself, “how do you explain this and what does it mean for Steve Addazio’s future”?

Should I have been happier, yeah, definitely, but such is the state of the program today that it caused me more to react that way then to enjoy what was a really fun football game where the Eagles came out on the right side.

So what does this mean for Steve Addazio and the future of the program and why?

At this point, nothing has changed.

What you say? Big win, big yards, UConn sucks, we’re going back to Detroit and the Quick Lane Bowl!

Well maybe, but maybe not..ok, well most likely not and here’s why.

It’s one data point.

Those who read my articles know that I am statistical and also one who believes strongly that a single event is just that, a single event. Two of them make a line and three of them make a trend and although there are real people, with real emotions who create those stats, they tend to tell the story when the story gets written.

Let me give you the following from this past Saturday: Syracuse 27 #2 Clemson 24, California 37 #8 Washington State 3, LSU 27 #10 Auburn 23, Arizona State 13 #5 Washington 7

Are those trends or upsets? In the case of Syracuse and potentially Cal, you can argue that these are programs with new coaches trending up. In the case of LSU, a program with massive talent playing more to potential. For Arizona State, a coach on the hot seat with a big win.

Let me throw you one other from way off the grid, that oddly may be closer to what BC did. English Premier League soccer, where Crystal Palace, 0-7 on the year and hadn’t scored a goal all season, beats what supposed to be one of the league favorites in Chelsea, 2-1.

Upsets while not the norm, are still normal. They happen and don’t necessarily signify an ascension or decline of a program. In retrospect, they might be viewed as the start of something bigger, or just what they tend to be...a single event upset.

This game, like the USC game in 2014, is a complete and total outlier offensively, yet a continuation of a trend defensively.

This game produced statistics that this program hasn’t seen in a decade or more. Why is this important? It goes back to point, line or trend.

I had one of my high school basketball teams that had trouble scoring. We had one night where we went from scoring around 60 points a night and got 94 against a very high level opponent. It was totally out of character from who we were and quite honestly what we were capable of. It was a point...it didn’t turn into a line or a trend.

Consider this incredible list from yesterday on the positive.

Offensive Superlatives

What Since When
What Since When
Overcome 14 point deficit Biggest WF '05, Alabama '84 - 17 pts Last 14 point - WVA, Pitt - both 1997
Win when tied with 1 minute left last time at Hawaii 1996 - W 24-21
Win on a walk off FG last time vs Navy 2006 bowl - W 25-24
Score 45 points Most in a game since Howard - 2015 (76) Most in an ACC game since NC State - 2009 (52)
364 yards rushing Most in a game since Maine - 2014 (413) Most in a power five game since USC - 2014 (452) Most in an ACC game since NC State - 2013 (420)
555 yards total offense Most in any game since NC State - 2008 (578)
6.39 yards per play Most since Wagner - 2016 (6.45) Most in Power Five game since USC - 2014 (7.44) Most in an ACC game since NC State - 2009 (7.06)
272 yards rushing by AJ Dillon 3rd most in a single game in BC history
4 rushing TDs by AJ Dillon 3rd most in a single game in BC history

Keep in mind, BC scored more points yesterday than their other 3 ACC games this season combined, almost doubling the 27 they had vs Wake, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

On the other hand, consider these defensive disasters.

Defensive Negatives

What Since When
What Since When
Allowed 625 yards total offense tied for third most in program history - Miami 1997
Allowed over 600 twice in a season Louisville (625) and Notre Dame (611 - 5th most ever) First time in program history +600 yds twice in the same year
Yards in a season At this rate, the defense will allow the 2nd most yards ever in a season (2012)
Points in a season At this rate, the defense will allow the 2nd most points ever in a season (1996)
Yards rushing in a season At this rate, the defense will allow the 2nd most yards ever in a season (1950)

There is nothing, at least yet, to indicate the offense can do anything remotely like this again, while defensively, this is not just a continuation of what we have seen in 2017, but in 2016 as well.

While we can say that college football offenses have become space age and are outpacing the defenses, they haven’t changed that much in the past two years, when BC led the nation in total defense.

How would you serve the credit/blame pie? Well besides not warm and definitely not a la mode, it is incredibly short sighted and parochial (which most fans are) to try to attribute any one factor to how all this went down. Like essentially anything in life, there were multiple factors, most importantly BC’s positive attitude and will to win (one thing I have consistently given credit to Addazio for his team’s attitude) as opposed to Louisville’s laissez-faire approach to this game which ultimately manifested itself with the Eagle offensive line manhandling the Cardinals defensive front, particularly in the 3rd quarter.

In that window, BC outscored Louisville 21-0 and out gained them 203-18.

Yes, AJ Dillon popped his 75 yard, give me that Walter Camp National Player of the Week Award - Flatten Your Sorry Ass - TD run early in Q4, but the damage was done in Q3.

Cardinal fans want Petrino’s head for this. National media, while respectful of this run and BC’s effort, point out that Louisville has lost 6 of their last 10 games.

Effort in athletics does not provide linear results. 10% equates to far more when applied in the positive and far, far, far less, when applied in the negative. For that reason, although giving credit to BC, let’s put this one more on the Cardinals. Remember, there is a track record to go on. Offensively, BC’s wasn’t good and defensively, at least against the run, Louisville’s was.

We talked about how important big plays are this was the first time all season that the Eagles generated them. BC had five big plays (four offensively and one in the return game) that either were direct scoring plays or were part of TD drives.

Thadd Smith’s 42 yard TD catch from Anthony Brown.

Michael Walker’s 32 yard punt return followed up by Brown’s 30 yard run set up a TD

AJ Dillon’s 33 yard run set up a TD

And then the Dillon 75 yard - Who’s your Daddy (should I link to that again??) TD run

That’s 28 of your 45 points. Big plays win college football games.

Could I be wrong on Addazio? It’s possible, but I don’t believe likely. I was one of the first to call for him to be let go after the Clemson game last year and at least right now, I haven’t changed my mind.

I’ve been at this a long, long time and although I don’t have opinions on every football coach to walk the earth, I can only remember one time where I have had a definitive opinion of a coach and believe I was proven wrong. That coach is Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, where as good a coach as I think he is, I thought he would fail at Tech due to the inability to recruit option players at a Power Five school. Johnson is 73-50 in Atlanta with two Orange Bowl appearances and just two losing seasons now in his 10th year. Enough to call him a success.

There are a lot of people at BC and going back to his days at Florida who were and are far from happy with Addazio.

What Steve Addazio has done though is earned himself another week. The seat should still be hotter than he can sit comfortably on, but take the positive and let’s see what happens next week.

Virginia is 5-1, playing for bowl eligibility this week and is feeling really good about itself and under former BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Cavaliers will pose a completely different challenge than did Louisville.

Expect a physically tough, low scoring game, one that ideally should be right up Addazio’s alley but one that UVA relishes too.

Does Addazio need a bowl to save his job? Tough to say, although you have to believe so. But at this point, all he can do in the immediate, is look to turn a point to a line, knowing historically that it is more like a light switch that turns on just once, but can’t stay on long term.