The 2015 Boston College football season is over.
All season long, there was talk of the "five year plan," the patience requested through the growing pains of a bad football season.
There are the facts. Boston College finished the football season with a 3-9 record, winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They finished with the 126th ranked offense, ahead of only Kent State (a 3-9 MAC team) and Central Florida (an 0-12 AAC team). They finished with the 125th ranked passing offense and saw their hallmark, the running game, fall to the 72nd ranked team in the nation. They were the 122nd ranked scoring offense, averaging 17.2 points per game. It doesn't matter that the defense finished the season as the best in the nation. This was the largest disparity between units anyone's ever seen, and, as the old saying goes, "success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan."
Clashing with the facts is the hope. All season long, the facts of the long, challenging season went up against the long-term plan for Boston College. The Eagles took their largest step back by playing nearly 70 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and sophomores. They had virtually no senior leadership on offense. They battled injuries, and all of this stunted development. The lack of continuity set this team back even further than they were going to go, and it cost them the chance to visually lay the foundation everyone was hoping they would see.
All season long in 2015, the two sides clashed with valid points. Both sides were absolutely correct. The debate was as spiritied as it was tiring. Each week, it was the same after the same after the same.
Now the season is over. What happened in the past year is now history. The time is now to start moving forward.
Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be looking at what to expect from BC's changes. We'll think about what the next steps are, look at how to implement them, and try to make sense of what's happening as it's happening. We'll do so through the lens of a very different offseason from the last two, one with substantially more concern and questions than in the past.
But there's one thing that's virtually assured. This offseason will determine the depth of Boston College's future, which needs to accelerate and become the present. This team will not play competitive football again until they play Georgia Tech - a fellow 3-9 team this year - in Dublin, Ireland. What happens in between will set the tone for what happens to the Steve Addazio era and will forever shift the course of Boston College football.
I enter this offseason trusting Steve Addazio, as I have all season. I've trusted the process, and I acknowledged that, regardless of how frustrated and annoyed I would get during '15, this future would be brighter than the present. Unfortunately for Addazio (and, to a substantially lesser degree, me), the future is now here. The Eagles need to show substantial progress, or the talk of the future will become a laundry list of missed opportunities and empty promises.
The promise has always been in the potential - that players like Darius Wade and Jon Hilliman were going to develop into top-tier athletes and enter breakout seasons. There are receivers like Ben Glines and Nolan Borgersen - players who didn't play this year but were marked in the preseason as being the types of players the team would rely on. There's the offensive line - which was a disaster for the majority of 2015 but showed, in individual plays, they could pull it together on pure grit. People questioned the coaches, the development, the struggles, but they never questioned the heart. Now, though, they're going to need answers to those questions.
When the season slipped away, the light remained the future. Well the future's now here. All of those athletes are back next year. The players who played this year have a year of experience, meaning they know what to expect and what to work on in the offseason. The players who weren't there have will be a year older, meaning they'll be smarter and more physically developed. Everyone needs to take a step forward.
If that doesn't happen, BC is in deep trouble. That's what makes this offseason so challenging and, at the same time, so compelling. The last three months have been spent discussing what could've been and what is going to be. The latter, the promise of what is coming, needs some delivery. If that doesn't happen, then Steve Addazio is going to find himself with questions that he might not be able to answer.
I've supported the five year plan from the very beginning, but I'll readily admit the Eagles need to step forward and show progress. Without that progress, it's an empty bill of goods. This is going to be the most challenging offseason BC's seen in a long time, and it's going to be the one that determines the future. BC's fans are weary of the excuses, and they're wary of what might happen next.
The promise of the future has always been there - from when BC beat Maine to when Darius Wade was lost against Florida State to the QB rotation to John Fadule and back to Smith. The time is now for BC to start moving to make good on that promise.