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Forget ACC, being big in Boston is Eagles' real problem

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  • Forget ACC, being big in Boston is Eagles' real problem

    Feb. 12, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Suddenly, Boston College's move to the ACC doesn't look so daunting.

    Forget a super conference; football coach Tom O'Brien is surrounded by super teams and Super Bowls. Good bud Bill Belichick seems to be doing OK with his New England-based NFL team. Word has it that the local major-league franchise seems to have ended some sort of curse.

    Boston College has won its past five bowl games, the best streak in the nation. (AP)
    From early December to mid January, BC's basketball and hockey teams combined for exactly no losses. Men's basketball started a Big East-record 20-0. The hockey team is ranked No. 1.

    So how hard can Miami, Florida State, etc. be? The pressure to live up to Boston's best begins when he leaves the house.

    "Now it's time to challenge ourselves," O'Brien said. "I'll give you a Belichick answer. I was trained that way."

    Oh yeah, The Bill, reigning king of New England -- at least until pitchers and catchers report. Belichick and O'Brien trace their relationship back 30 years when both coached at Navy. They are so thick that the BC staff routinely heads over to the Patriots facility for X's, O's and lunch. Belichick, then a gopher with the Colts, once got O'Brien tickets for a first date/hot date to see a Baltimore exhibition game. O'Brien ended up marrying Jennifer Byrd.

    2005 ACC Football
    Atlantic Division
    Boston College
    Florida State
    North Carolina State
    Wake Forest

    Coastal Division
    Georgia Tech
    Miami (Fla.)
    North Carolina
    Virginia Tech
    The connection, then, is both technical and emotional. But as the No. 4 sports option (maybe) in the nation's sixth-largest media market, BC sometimes struggles to get column inches.

    The move to the ACC might help it in that struggle. The story has everything tabloids are looking for.

    Critics say BC has abandoned its Northeast roots to play in the now widely scattered ACC. O'Brien already admitted he struggled to recruit in traditional ACC hotspots in the Carolinas and Virginias.

    BC is the last addition to an at-times contentious expansion. That extra year in the Big East led to angst that filtered down to fans. It seemed as if O'Brien faced at least one question every week about the next conference road game, where fans were ready to unload with invective.

    "I told the AD, this is all well and fine but I'm walking the point out here," O'Brien said. "The (other Big East) administrators set the tone. By them setting the tone, it trickled down (to the fans).

    "The (Big East) coaches will never admit it, but privately they would say, 'Hell, if we had the opportunity we'd go.'"

    Boston College
    Football Schedule 2005
    Date Opponent
    Sept. 3 at BYU
    Sept. 10 Army
    Sept. 17 Florida State
    Sept. 24 at Clemson
    Oct. 1 Ball State
    Oct. 8 Virginia
    Oct. 15 Wake Forest
    Oct. 27 at Virginia Tech
    Nov. 5 at North Carolina
    Nov. 12 North Carolina State
    Nov. 19 at Maryland

    Beginning next year the league will split into two six-team divisions and stage a championship game. Superpowers Miami and Florida State are/were expected to rule the landscape, but it was Virginia Tech that took the first expanded ACC title.

    "The thing that was surprising, everybody thought Miami was going to go in and win the league and Virginia Tech did," said O'Brien (57-39), beginning his ninth season.

    "For us knowing that we went down there and beat (the Hokies) in their last Big East game (34-27 in 2003), that helps us psychologically. Playing North Carolina in a bowl game and winning that game, from a psychological standpoint, that will help this football program. Yeah, we can compete in this conference."

    BC starts in great shape. O'Brien, the former Marine, started his coaching career at Navy with Belichick's father, Steve. Some of the Patriots' excellence has had to rub off. The BC-New England staffs interact regularly.

    "The best thing that's happening to them," O'Brien said, "their locker room polices a lot of things now. It's not handled at the coaching level or the GM level.

    "When you pick up a paper on Mondays and Tuesdays and they're saying the same thing you were saying to them Sunday in meetings, then you know we're all on the same page. I'm sure that's the way the Patriots are."

    Of all the so-called "academic" schools, BC might be doing the best at football right now. At a time when grad rates are being tied to scholarships, BC is graduating 100 percent of players -- which is nothing new. O'Brien can't get enough credit for leading the program out of the gambling scandal in the mid-'90s.

    The 2004 Eagles won at least eight games for the fifth time in six years (9-3). The program has won 12 out of its past 15. The victory over the Tar Heels in the Continental Tire Bowl was the program's fifth in a row in the postseason. That streak continues to lead the nation.

    They did it with typical BC grit. Quarterback Paul Peterson broke his leg in the fourth quarter of the 37-24 victory. As Peterson was being wheeled off the field, he saw the Eagles score on a fake field goal.

    Surrounded By Excellence
    Team Accomplishment
    New England Patriots Super Bowl champs
    Boston Red Sox World Series champs
    BC men's basketball 20-1, ranked No. 4
    BC women's basketball 15-6, ranked No. 19
    BC men's hockey 17-3-6, ranked No. 1
    Boston Celtics 25-25, 1st in Atlantic
    * - Records are through Thursday
    "In no way, shape or form would we ever compare him to Doug Flutie," O'Brien said, "but he was our Flutie. Twenty years later you have the same type of quarterback running around BC."

    Seventeen starters return, including senior quarterback Quinton Porter, who redshirted last year after starting the first 10 games of 2003. And, no, we're not forgetting that the Eagles fumbled away a chance at their first BCS bowl in a depressing loss at home to Syracuse.

    "I was reading about ACC basketball knocking each other off," O'Brien said. "That's probably going to be the way it is in football. The way we look at the Big East was -- there's always Miami and Virginia Tech at the top. Then you can take us, West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt throw us in a hat and pick us out.

    "Now maybe that's going to be the case in the ACC."

    Love it or hate it, when the ACC decided to expand, it was almost a mortal blow to the Big East. The conference recently lost an Orange Bowl anchor for its champion. There is no assurance the Big East will have an automatic BCS berth in the future.

    Meanwhile, the ACC doesn't look like the Everest it did when BC agreed to join two years ago. The future looks more like The Heights.

Related Topics


  • txramsfan
    Big East still worthy of BCS Bid?
    by txramsfan

    The real dilution of the Bowl Championship Series is not an outsider like Miami (Ohio) (13-1 last season) playing in a major bowl game. Nor is it a Fresno State or Boise State infiltrating a BCS bowl.

    Big East
    Predicted Finish
    1. West Virginia
    2. Boston College
    3. Connecticut
    4. Syracuse
    5. Pittsburgh
    6. Rutgers
    7. Temple
    Off. Player of Year:
    Dan Orlovsky, UConn
    Def. Player of Year:
    Mathias Kiwanuka, BC
    Coach of the Year:
    Rich Rodriguez, W. Va.
    There is, at least, a curiosity factor with the so-called coalition schools having easier access to the BCS beginning in 2006. Whatever teams qualify in the future, they will be, well, qualified. It will take an undefeated or one-loss season to get into the exclusive club.

    An Ohio State-Miami (Ohio) Fiesta Bowl would have been a delight last season. If not that, then an all-purple TCU vs. Kansas State major bowl game.

    Those matchups would not be the death of postseason football as we know it. More close to that frightening prospect is the BCS keeping the Big East in the loop. The Crippled Conference limps into this season with the most fortunate grandfather clause in sports.

    The Big East has lost Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech. Boston College departs for the ACC after 2004. Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida enter next season. Yet, the league kept is automatic BCS berth.

    The real fly in the Bengay for bowl executives is, in any given year, an 8-3 Cincinnati could be playing in the Sugar Bowl. South Florida could find its way to the Orange Bowl. Even a 10-1 West Virginia, this year's favorite, doesn't exactly promise a television ratings bonanza.

    The point is the reconfigured Big East probably has the least desirable potential cast of champions in the BCS. Syracuse? In basketball, yes. In football, weeelll ...

    Boston College isn't even close to being the top draw in its own city. Rutgers? Uh, no. The conference's best story this season is Connecticut, which joined the league a year early after the ACC raid. With a break here and there, the Huskies could find themselves winning the league and playing in a BCS bowl in their first season in the Big East.

    But UConn went 9-3 last season as an independent and didn't get a postseason sniff.

    Given the dearth of desirable bowl programs, you wonder how the conference got to keep its BCS bid. Maybe commissioner Mike Tranghese's peers simply had pity on him and his league after all it has gone through in the past year.

    The clock is running. Big East champions will have to average a final No. 12 ranking in the BCS ratings over a four-year period or the conference's BCS status will be reviewed....
    -08-19-2004, 08:13 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Penn State has Coke-bottle glasses about JoePa
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 27, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    National feature | Notebook
    At least Florida had the power to fire its coach.

    Penn State has no such option. The only person who can determine the future employment of Joe Paterno is Joe Paterno. And at last check the 77-year-old was armed with a four-year extension as a foundation for an increasingly obvious stubborn streak. odds
    Florida coaching candidates
    Coach, School Odds
    Steve Spurrier EVEN
    Bobby Petrino, Louisville 2-1
    Butch Davis, Browns (NFL) 3-1
    Urban Meyer, Utah 10-1
    Jeff Tedford, Cal 100-1
    Rick Neuheisel, H.S. $11,000-1
    Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 1 million-1
    The silly season kicked off early Monday with the firing of Ron Zook at Florida. The 2004-05 round of coaching changes apparently won't include the departure of Paterno. What was merely uncomfortable the past couple of seasons could get flat-out embarrassing in Happy Valley.

    Those Coke bottles might help JoePa focus on his world, but they're still blocking his view. Saturday's 6-4 loss to Iowa proved that -- or rather reinforced it. The Nittany Lions have few Big Ten-quality athletes, even fewer playmakers.

    They are 2-5 this season and 5-14 over the past two seasons. In the last four-plus seasons, Penn State has lost 31 games. That's not a blip on the radar, friends, that's a trend. The school lost a total of 22 games in the 1970s, 28 in the 1980s and 26 in the 1990s.

    What little Big Ten talent Paterno does have, he doesn't seem to know what to do with. The coach lashed out at reporters last week after calling quarterback/receiver Michael Robinson "one of the best football players I have ever coached."

    Steve Spurrier is getting in some golf in Florida before a widely anticipated return.(AP)
    "Don't question me," Paterno added.

    Robinson promptly went out and threw two interceptions and fumbled on plays that ended Penn State's final three possessions. Most troubling, and usually a sure sign a coach is in trouble, is thousands of empty seats at Beaver Stadium.

    Apparently, not at Penn State where the school would be firing one of its biggest donors who has ties to bigger donors. That the final score was the same as the first college football game played in 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, taints those first noble football warriors.

    Back then, didn't each "touchdown" count for a point?

    Considering the issues, jobs, coaches and schools this could be on the most interesting offseasons in recent history. Now that Florida has broken the seal, here the top potential openings in the country ...

    He's coming...
    -10-27-2004, 12:14 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Schnellenberger building a fourth power in Florida
    by DJRamFan
    Sept. 23, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer

    Why not flip a coin to pick a starting quarterback?

    Howard Schnellenberger had done wackier things in his career. Twenty years ago it seemed like he was throwing that career away. Miami had won the national championship in 1983 and Schnellenberger, the celebrated architect of Hurricanes football, bolted -- try not to laugh -- to the USFL.

    Needless to say, that didn't work out. There was an inspiring stop at Louisville and a disappointing one at Oklahoma but, really, his career arc was never the same again.

    "In my opinion, he might have as many championships as anybody, ever (if he stayed at Miami)," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "It's crossed my mind many times."

    So why not flip that coin three years ago? How is that more outrageous than creating a football program at an unknown campus in Boca Raton, Fla.? A place where the burrowing owls on campus were the inspiration for the school's nickname?

    Or agreeing to go door-to-door soliciting community leaders for the mere $15 million needed to go from germ of an idea to kickoff?

    Really, it wasn't weird at all for the 70-year old who, well, let's just say he still has extreme confidence in his abilities. So, yeah, it really was Schnellenberger who suggested in 2001 that freshman quarterbacks Jared Allen and Garrett Jahn flip a coin to start the first game in Florida Atlantic's history.

    "They were too close for a human being to call so God called it," Schnellenberger said this week, considering his latest construction project. "Certainly I would do that. Why wouldn't I?"

    Ridiculous is sublime again in Schnellenberger's world. Amid this season's talking points -- hurricanes, instant replay, kickers who can't kick -- is the job Schnellie has done at that owl-laden commuter campus of 13,000 students in Palm Beach County.

    Three victories, all on the road, all against I-A competition in Florida Atlantic's final season before joining the big time, which in this case is the Sun Belt Conference in 2005. Next year, this college football IPO will be eligible for -- please stifle your laughter again -- a bowl.

    All of it after playing organized college football for all of four years. All of it according to plan.

    "He was basically semi-retired in Miami selling municipal bonds," said Dr. Anthony Catanese, the man who hired Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic in 1998. "I said, 'That's not the place for Howard Schnellenberger.'

    "He told me in five years he'd have this program nationally recognized. He did it in three."

    Almost all of it has been done with kids from the state of Florida who couldn't go to one of the Big Three -- Miami, Florida or Florida State....
    -09-23-2004, 02:14 PM
  • Nick
    Top 25 games of the season (or why the SEC still rules)
    by Nick
    Top 25 games of the season (or why the SEC still rules)
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Aug. 26, 2011

    This season's five Ws -- who, what, when, where and wahoo!

    The games of the year (ranked 1-25):

    1. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 5: Seriously, can we hit the "sim" button on the season and just fast-forward to this mega-matchup? A lot of folks think these are the two best teams in the country. This game could decide the SEC West, the SEC and half of the BCS championship game. Alabama still has quarterback issues, but, oh, that defense. Speaking of quarterback issues, for all of his problems, Jordan Jefferson has missed only seven of 27 passes in his career against Alabama. Last year's 10-of-13 performance in Baton Rouge was one of the best of his career.

    2. Oklahoma at Florida State, Sept. 17: FSU has to prove it's back. No. 1 Oklahoma has to stay unblemished to continue its national championship run. The Sooners will have to win without leading tackler and best trash talker Travis Lewis. You get the feeling this is an all-in game for the 'Noles. In other words, if they do lose it's going to be hard to recover emotionally with a trip Clemson up next. Bottom line: OU can afford a loss. FSU can't.

    3. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 26: Don't sleep on the Iron Bowl after last year's all-timer. Remember what has happened in the offseason -- the Toomer's Oaks, the tornado, Saban's 9-foot statue, the Cam Newton investigation hovering over it all. 'Bama will be favored but what will that mean? This is guaranteed to be one of the most emotional Iron Bowls ever.

    4. Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 12: This game should decide the Pac-12 North. (It feels funny just writing that.) It also could decide the Heisman given that the leading active vote getters are playing in this game (Andrew Luck, LaMichael James). This is the Cardinal's revenge game. There aren't many of them. After blowing a 21-3 lead last year at Oregon, Stanford watched the Ducks score 49 of the next 59 points.

    5. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Oct. 1: Anyone not wearing red gets smacked over the head with a full Leinenkugel's. This is what Jim Delany had in mind when he expanded the Big Ten. Inventory for the league, lots of hype and two top-11 teams. Big Ten title-game preview? Nebraska plays its first conference game in its new league. Wisconsin tries to remind the Huskers who's boss. Russell Wilson never faced a defense like this in the ACC.

    6. LSU-Oregon, Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas: At this rate, patrolmen from Eugene and Baton Rouge will be going out for the coin toss. Call it in the air -- heads and Jordan Jefferson is suspended. Tails, Oregon receives -- another call from the NCAA. But seriously folks, this is one of the biggest season openers in years. The last time two top-five teams played on a neutral field to start the season was 1984. LSU will want to keep its momentum...
    -08-30-2011, 06:22 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Weekend in Review: 'New' BCS still could produce a mess
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 10, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Halfway through the season, the national championship race has some feel, some texture.

    Dodd's Power Poll

    1. Oklahoma
    2. USC
    3. Miami
    4. Florida State
    5. Auburn
    6. Virginia
    7. Purdue
    8. Louisville
    9. Georgia
    10. Texas
    11. Utah
    12. Boise State
    13. Wisconsin
    14. Arizona State
    15. Cal
    16. LSU
    17. Michigan
    18. Tennessee
    19. Florida
    20. West Virginia
    21. Oklahoma State
    22 Minnesota
    23. Navy
    24. Southern Miss
    25. Missouri
    25. UCLA
    Non-BCS Top 10
    1. Louisville
    2. Utah
    3. Boise State
    4. Navy
    5. Southern Miss
    6. Florida Atlantic
    7. UAB
    8. Memphis
    9. Wyoming
    10. Northern Illinois
    And some chaos just in case you forgot the BCS is a week away from weighing in. USC remains No. 1 but lost style (and poll) points in beating Cal. No. 2. Oklahoma handled Texas to creep closer. It's hard to believe Miami is now a heartbeat away at No. 3 considering some of its problems.

    What's it all mean? Refer back to last season when the BCS couldn't make up its mind between LSU, USC and Oklahoma. A similar nightmare scenario is developing.

    Three words: Split national champions. The new BCS that was supposed to lessen that likelihood looks like it is leading down the same path. Remember, there is nothing in the new BCS formula that can pick the "right" teams if there are three or more worthy teams for the two Orange Bowl slots at the end of the season. By leaning more on the human polls this year, the BCS commissioners are hoping the credibility of those rankings will sort things out.

    One of many problems: The computers still count for one-third of the formula, which could just as likely create split champions as prevent it. Last season, LSU, Oklahoma and USC all lost one game before the bowls. The BCS math picked Oklahoma and LSU to play in the Sugar Bowl despite the fact USC was No. 1 in both human polls.

    We'll say it again: More reliance on the human polls this year doesn't necessarily clean things up.

    Here's an early glimpse at this year's potential train wreck: Assume there are these 13 legitimate national championship contenders at this point. Nine of them are undefeated -- USC, Oklahoma, Miami, Purdue, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, Arizona State and Auburn. Four have one loss -- Florida State, Michigan, Cal and Tennessee.

    At this point a year ago (using the Oct. 12, 2003 Associated Press poll), there were 14 contenders. But there were only three undefeated teams worthy of title...
    -10-11-2004, 02:36 PM