Boston College Notes - 10/13/2003

The crucial portion of Boston College’s season will occur over the next four weeks. Not that anything is certain, but the Eagles are very likely to end the season with a win over Rutgers, followed by a loss in the season finale at Virginia Tech. Between now and then, BC will play four games that will define their season. Those four opponents will be Syracuse on the road, followed by home games against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. If BC can win three of these four games they will likely finish the regular season at 8-4 and head to a fifth consecutive bowl game. A 7-5 record probably gets the Eagles into a bowl game as well. The games played among Pittsburgh, Syracuse, BC and West Virginia will be particularly interesting as these teams fight for positioning (probably third place) in the Big East. The conference standings are important because, in large part, they determine who goes to which bowl games. Non-conference games will also play a role because overall record is as important, if not more important, than conference standing. Syracuse and BC have lost just once in conference play and each has a remaining game with Notre Dame. Pittsburgh has lost twice out of conference. West Virginia has lost three times outside of the Big East, which will put them at a disadvantage when bowl resumes are considered.

Bowl Date/Time Location
BCS (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose) Jan 1-4 TBD
Toyota Gator Bowl Jan 1st / 12:30 pm Jacksonville, FL
Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl Dec 31st / 10:30 pm San Francisco, CA
Continental Tire Bowl Dec 27th / 11:00 am Charlotte, NC
Insight Bowl Dec 26th / 8:30 pm Phoenix, AZ

There is a chance that the third place team in the Big East will earn itself a trip to the Gator Bowl. Obviously, the Big East champion gets an automatic BCS slot but the Big East may also get one of the two at large BCS slots if the loser of the November 1st Miami-Virginia Tech game finishes the season with only one loss (assuming that the winner of the Miami/VA Tech game wins the Big East). If the Big East gets two BCS bids, that opens up the Gator Bowl (reserved for the 2nd place team in the Big East) to the third best Big East team. It also means that the conference gets one extra guaranteed bowl spot (provided that enough teams have the minimum requirement of six Division 1A wins).

The irony of this is that BC could knock itself out of the Gator Bowl by beating the Hokies in the season finale on November 22nd. Here’s how:

    Assumptions (all very possible):
  • Miami finishes undefeated and gets the Big East's automatic BCS slot
  • Virginia Tech comes into the BC game with one loss and a top 8 BCS ranking
  • BC comes into the VA Tech game with an 8-3 overall record and 4-2 Big East record
  • The remaining Big East teams all have fewer overall and conference wins than BC (in other words, BC is ahead of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the bowl pecking order)
    Scenario 1: BC beats Virginia Tech
  • Virginia Tech finishes 10-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big East but because of the loss to BC, does not get an at-large BCS bid
  • Virginia Tech is invited to the Gator Bowl because though BC beat VA Tech, the bowls are not required to go strictly by conference standing and the Hokies are a more popular team
  • BC, 9-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big East, heads to one of the three lesser bowls guaranteed to the Big East
    Scenario 2: BC loses to Virginia Tech
  • Virginia Tech finishes 11-1 and is awarded an at-large BCS bid
  • BC, 8-4 overall and 4-3 in the Big East, is #3 in the Big East but heads to the Gator Bowl because Virginia Tech is taking a BCS slot

As you can see, the Eagles would have essentially knocked themselves into a less desirable bowl by winning the game. A scenario such as this, though unlikely, is one of the many reasons why I despise the BCS system.

This week’s BC-Syracuse game will feature two of the nation’s top three rushers. Boston College’s Derrick Knight currently leads the nation in rushing yards (886) and rushing yards per game (148). Syracuse’s Walter Reyes is third in rushing yards per game (144), third in rushing touchdowns (11) and second in yards per carry (6.7). Do either of these guys get even a mention for Heisman Trophy candidacy? Of course not. If both of these backs rush for 300 yards this week, you still won’t hear about either one of them. The definition of the Heisman Trophy should be changed to “most outstanding player in college football on a popular team.” Oregon State’s Steven Jackson, VA Tech's Kevin Jones and Michigan’s Chris Perry are often mentioned as Heisman hopefuls. Here are the numbers:

Player/Team Yards Yds Per Carry TDs
Derrick Knight, BC 886 6.2 3
Steven Jackson, Oregon St 877 4.8 9
Walter Reyes, Syracuse 721 6.7 11
Chris Perry, Michigan 859 5.5 5
Kevin Jones, VA Tech 682 5.6 9

I’m not sure how to feel about BC’s impending move to the ACC. This could turn out to be a very good move or a very bad move, but I’m not sure that Boston College had any choice but to accept the invitation. Had they said “No” to the ACC, there is a very good chance that one of the other Big East schools would have said “Yes.” Add to that the possibility of Syracuse or Pittsburgh becoming the twelfth member of the Big Ten and crushing Big East football beyond repair. I was never in favor of joining the ACC without Syracuse, but thanks to Mike Tranghese's mismanagement, Big East football is a sinking ship. It was time to jump in the lifeboat. Boston College is swallowing its pride by accepting the ACC's offer after the way they were treated. On the other hand, it would be difficult to remain in the Big East after the frivilous lawsuits and angry words uttered by hypocrites who were upset because the ACC was not interested in them. In other words, BC was forced to choose the lesser of two evils. They chose the situation with the bigger upside. The following is my breakdown of BC’s decision of whether or not to join the ACC.

  Join the ACC Remain in the Big East Advantage
Conference Members Join a conference that stabbed you in the back just a few months before Remain with a conference whose members filed a ludicrous lawsuit against you filled with false accusations of conspiracy ACC - I'll take NC State Chancellor "Flipflop" Fox and John "Slimey" Swofford over Richard "Sue Everyone" Blumenthal and Mike "Clueless" Tranghese
Ability to Fit In Be the Northern outcast in a Southern conference Be the outcast for requiring your players to go to class ACC - If the Big East adds Cincinnati, the football schools could lose a battle of wits with the SEC
Football Road Trips Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, Durham and Hotlanta Hartford, Morgantown, New Jersey and Pittsburgh ACC - Are you kidding me?
Football Competition Syracuse, West Virginia, Pittsburgh Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech Big East - BC would have been a solid BCS candidate in the Big East (assuming that the NCAA lets the conference stay in the BCS)
Impact on Basketball Long and frequent road trips. Loss of strong rivalries including Providence and Syracuse. Stay in a conference that gets no respect from the NCAA selection committee and has too many teams. EVEN - Big East basketball is just as good as ACC basketball despite the perceptions. The travel will be less of a factor if BC can schedule two road games (Thu/Sat) for each trip South.
Recruiting Gain exposure in the Southern states. Lose exposure in the Northeast. Losing Miami means no presence in talent rich Florida. Plenty of exposure in the Northeast. Big East - This would have been different had Syracuse been part of the ACC package. BC will rarely be televised in New York State and New Jersey. This could have disastrous ramifications.
Fan Interest The arrival of Duke, UNC and Maryland in basketball and FSU in football should generate fan interest. Most BC fans seem only moderately enthusiastic about all current football foes except Notre Dame. Contre Forum is one of the quietest arenas in the nation. ACC - At least in the short-term, this will pique the interest of students, alumni and local sports fans. In the long term, who knows?
Financial Possible revenue from conference title game. Possible $5 million exit fee to leave Big East. Loss of bowl revenue if Big East loses BCS spot and guaranteed bowls. Loss of television revenue. ACC - I doubt that the conference title game will generate $10 million, but the ACC should provide a much better revenue stream than the new-look Big East.

To read my more detailed comments on ACC expansion (from this past summer when Syracuse was included) please click HERE.