When the schedule was released last winter, Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani took a quick look at the Eagles’ opening game opponent and sighed.
Normally that would have cause more angst for Spaziani who is unquestionably under siege regarding his future at BC. Going 4-8 in any year will do that to a coach.
But this time Spaziani merely shrugged and quickly turned what could have been a negative into a positive. The Eagles had just ended their regular season with a win over the Hurricanes in Miami.
Starting the season with a win over the Hurricanes, who have their own internal problems dealing with an ongoing NCAA investigation that has slowed down second-year Hurricane coach Al Golden’s plans for rebuilding the Canes, might just be the booster shot the Eagles needed to get their season started.
Win that game and BC is 1-0 in the ACC. Win that game and the feeling of gloom and doom from the Spaz bashers who think that he is over matched, been out recruited and out coached during much of his first three years as the Eagles head coach, might be at leas temporarily muted.
Win that game and follow that with a win against Maine (expected) and another win over Northwestern (possible) and the 2012 season would be pointed in the right direction.
So Spaziani started to devour all Miami material. He studied the roster, he looked at tapes. He looked at tendencies that Golden, who Spaziani has known for years and considers a friend, would use.
When BC’s camp opened this week, Spaziani talked in the usual generalities about feeling good about the depth BC was developing. He talked about how QB Chase Rettig was maturing. He talked about the battles being held at wide receiver and running back. He talked about the offensive line and how it was getting deeper while it was getting better.
He looked at the defense–his specialty–and saw some signs of life in the first year without LB Luke Kuechly as a rescue club.
After the first scrimmage, Spaziani talked about how both the offensive and defensive lines looked “soft”. “They are not in thee hitting phase yet,” he said, with a smile. “That will come.”
He talked about the signs he saw in his offense, which new offensive coordinator Doug Martin conceded had basically run mostly conservative, plays.
That philosophy will continue through the next few scrimmages–Wednesday night and Sunday. It might continue through the remainder of training camp.
Make no mistake, Spaziani and his staff is working on getting BC ready for the season. But there is a second agenda.
BC HAS to win the Miami game. In can be argued that no other opening game in the past 20 years has had as much significance as this game.
BC insiders still laugh at the coaching debut of Jeff Jagodzinski in 2007 when an Eagle team with Matt Ryan at QB fell behind by two touchdowns to Wake Forest in the first quarter. Jags, desperately wanting to start his head-coaching career at BC on a positive note, went over to OC Steve Logan and said, “Steve, what’s going on. We’re down by two touchdowns. Logan, knowing the weapon he had in Ryan and what was in his head as OC, said simply, “I know. Don’t worry about it.”
BC won going away 38-28.
Now it is Spaziani under fire and Doug Martin, who worked for Logan, running the offense. The pressure this time is even greater because jobs are on the line.
Outwardly, things will look like a normal training camp when the Eagles begin the two-a-day phase of training camp on Monday.
But don’t be fooled. It’s already game week at BC. And it will continue that way until Sept. 1 when the Hurricanes arrive.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.