Four years ago they were the Boston College foundation of the future. Fifteen players, the majority who were recruited by Frank Spaziani and his staff, who were ear marked as the keepers of the post season flame which had lasted a decade under previous BC coaches such as Tom O’Brien and Jeff Jagodzinski.The foundation never set quite right. An 8-5 season, turned into a 7-6 season, which turned into 4-8 and then finally, 2-10.
Spaziani was fired for misdeeds both real and perceived. One of the criticisms which was often heard was that the program was heading south, recruiting was off, way off.
Going into the 9th game of their final season, the seniors at BC will disagree with that statement. And it’s not just idle chatter.
Oh, the Eagles’ 4-4 record seems average at best and a guaranteed bowl slot is still two victories, no sure thing considering that the Eagles finish their regular season with 3 road games (out of four) and considering that the Eagles are on a 9 game road losing streak, dating back to November of 2010 when they won at Miami.
But in terms of individual talent and achievement, consider these names and numbers from the Class of 2014.
Running back Andre Williams–The ACC’s leading rusher is within 550 yards of becoming BC’s all time leading rusher for a single season.
Wide Receiver Alex Amidon–Amidon already holds the BC single season record for receptions (78) and is within 48 yards of becoming BC’s career leader in reception yardage and is 18 receptions away from becoming the Eagles’ all time leader in receptions as well.
Kicker Nate Freese–Freese is the BC career leader in field goals and is 16 points away from becoming BCs all time leading scorer.
So one recruiting class produced BC’s could produce BC’s all time leading rusher in a season, the school’s all time leading receiver and it’s all time leading scorer.
That’s an accomplishment that should be noted.
And no it doesn’t translagte into overall success on the field, which is the overall measuring stick and got Spaziani fired. But for a program looking for positive signs, and for players looking for some validation of their worth as players, it is a positive note.
And that also doesn’t include players such as linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto, who made key plays in Saturday’s 34-27 win over Virginia Tech which evened BC’s record at 4-4. It doesn’t include the inspired play of defensive lineman Kasim Edebali or cornerback Manny Asprilla or QB Chase Rettig, all who played key roles in the win over Tech and are the lynch pins for the next five games.
“They have all done a great job,” said first year BC coach Steve Addazio, who was hired to fix what became broken in the last two years under Spaziani and has done a good job of getting the Eagles back into a positive mode.
Williams and Amidon are having career-type years this season and the senior leadership that was missing the last few years has re-emerged as the Eagles make their quest to end a two-year bowl drought.
Next up in challenges is what looks, on the surface, like one of BC’s easier tasks, handling 108 New Mexico, whose 1-8 record includes only a win over FCS opponent Abilene Christian.
BC is a 24 point favorite over the Aggies, who have an Eagle connection since last season’s BC offensive coordinator Doug Martin is the head coach.
The warning sign of course, is that the Eagles have not won a road game in almost two years and Addazio is well aware of the let down factor after the emotional and draining win over Virginia Tech.
“All the antennas are up,” said Addazio. “They put their sacks and pads on the same way we do” said Addazio, going to the Football Cliché 101 handbook. “They are going to come right back at us.”
Addazio knows the Eagles have struggled each week to reach .500. They are struggling to get to the six win bowl eligibility minimum. At times, in one-sided losses such as a 34-10 pounding by then 1-5 North Carolina, the confidence factor erodes.
The win over Virginia Tech boosted it back to a point, but Addazio knows that confidence level is also fragile.
“At some point you need validation (for what you are doing),” said Addazio. “Until you do get it, it tests your will. That games (Virginia Tech) helped build that.”
But a team also needs someone to lead the way on the field. Addazio can talk and yell and council and scold only to a point.
With the calendar working against them, the 15 seniors of the Class of 2014, are providing that leadership and climbing up the hill to re-establish BC’s bowl credentials but also to re-establish the confidence factor that had faded steadily for the past two seasons.
And while Frank Spaziani couldn’t make things right quick enough to save his job, the knock against his recruiting classes is just flat out wrong. You can make valid arguments about staffing an coaching that talent, but the talent on campus right now is better than the perception.
While Spaziani didn’t initially recruit the fifth year seniors on the roster, he closed the deal in February on signing day after Jags was fired in January.
The bottom line to all of this is that a class that has not performed the way it had hoped, is intent on closing its tenure with a positive spin.
It is up to Addazio and his staff to close the deal. Four wins is better than two and six is better than four and eight is better than six.
Right now, as we move into the final quadrant of the season, all of that is possible.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.