BC breaks through--with an ACC WIN
(An outsiders view of the goings on at The Heights, aka Boston College)
It took almost 700 days, spanning nearly two full calendar years, while going through a cycle and a half of Atlantic Coast Conference games (12).
One more loss would probably have been the tipping point on the Boston College career of football coach Steve Addazio.
But on Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, North Carolina, Boston College did what no Eagle football team had done against a Power 5 conference school or against an ACC opponent since November 29, 2014.
It won--beating North Carolina State 21-14, in a game in which the Eagles showed signs of their football lineage--they made a goal line stop in the last few minutes, they made clutch plays on offense and defense and most importantly they found a way to win.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
""BC football,'' was the way Addazio explained it, referring to a history which had made the Eagles a perennial bowl team under the guidance of Tom O'Brien. ""A lot of determination. I'm proud of our football players and the team."
""To win this game took something out of everyone. Everyone had to contribute and that's where we are right now. We have a collection of guys that are battling everyday.''
Officially, it was just one game, which lifted the Eagles back to a 4-4 overall record (1-4 in the ACC). But it was more than that. Much more.
Addazio recognized the significance as well. ""I know it's only one game, but we took an important step today,'' he said.
The chatter was growing louder with each loss as the Eagles, fighting off the disappointment of last season's 3-9 (0-8 in the ACC) stumbled out of the gate again with an 0-4 conference record, which included a 49-0 loss to Virginia Tech, a 56-10 loss to Clemson, and most recently a 28-20 home loss to Syracuse, which was the last ACC team the Eagles beat nearly two years ago.
With a game at NC State, a home game vs. Louisville, a road game at Florida State, a home game against UConn and a road game at Wake Forest remaining, the game against the Wolfpack on Saturday looked like the last chance BC had to turn the program in the right direction before it would be too late (to save Addazio's job), even with a flourish at the end.
Even Addazio conceded his precarious situation, knowing that it might take 6 wins (and bowl eligiblity) to prevent a change.
Adding to the intrigue was the unsettled situation in the BC administration where BC President Father William Leahy and BC athletic director Brad Bates were considered long shots to be part of the administration beyond next season.
But the difference between 4-4 and 3-5 looks far greater than just one game.
By winning, the sense of urgency will disappear, even if BC does not come up with an upset against Louisville or Florida State. Adding to the sense of optimism was the results of two games on Saturday.
East Carolina 41 UConn 3
Army 21, Wake Forest 13.
Suddenly, those games look more winnable. With four victories, BC can now see a realistic way to make it to a bowl game, which is what almost everyone around BC felt was a way to promote job security for the coaching staff.
In the grand scheme of things, Saturday's game will not go into many highlight films for overall quality. But give Addazio and his staff--minus defensive coordinator Jim Reid who did not make the trip because of a health issue--credit for being aggressive on both offense and defense, playing to win, rather than playing to lose.
The game winning TD was out of the trick play book, an option pass by running back Davon Jones to tight end Tommy Sweeney.
"Davon's been practicing, he loves it,'' said Sweeney. "It was a very aggressive call, which I love.''
For a team and a program which has had to swallow a lot of poop about their performance and their prospects, it was a sunny, cloudless day under a Carolina blue sky.
For Steve Addazio, who has repeated his mantra that things were heading in the right direction without much tangible evidence, it was a breakthrough game.
For the next two weeks, the Eagles will be playing with house money and then they will go into the final two game stretch against UConn and Wake with a tangible reward (bowl appearance).
For the first time in two years, the Eagles walked into a winning locker room following an ACC game--with a victory they earned and deserved.[/membership]