August 23, 2004 The Big Picture
As the only team in the country that has won a bowl game in each of the last four seasons, BC has a chance to leave the Big East in what Eagles coach Tom O'Brien calls a blaze of glory. That's a far cry from the decimated, gambling-hammered situation O'Brien inherited from Dan Henning in 1997. BC fans love to complain about how this program, 40-22 over the last five years (after O'Brien debuted with a pair of 4-7 campaigns), should be more productive. But with academic standards that will rank in the top third of the soon-to-be 12-team ACC, the Eagles always have needed to find and maintain a certain niche, and O'Brien has slid his program comfortably into that niche in recent years. That's why the feeling among many long-time observers is that BC shouldn't be in a much different position in the ACC than it was in the Big East when Miami and Virginia Tech were members.
It's easy for fans to forget, but things in Boston were very bad when O'Brien the long-time offensive coordinator at Virginia under George Welsh took over, with the Eagles basically trying to survive under self-imposed penalties that weren't a far cry from the NCAA's dreaded death penalty. O'Brien, a former Marine and a strict disciplinarian, wanted to restore order, bring stability to the coaching staff and start winning. He's done all of that, and now he starts his sixth straight year with the same offensive and defensive coordinators, as the Eagles seek a sixth straight bowl.
Done For Me Lately
|1994||3-3-1 (5)||7-4-1||Aloha Bowl (W)|
|1999||4-3 (3)||8-4||Insight.com Bowl (L)|
|2000||3-4 (5)||7-5||Aloha Bowl (W)|
|2001||4-3 (3)||8-4||Music City Bowl (W)|
|2002||3-4 (4)||9-4||Motor City Bowl (W)|
|2003||3-4 (5)||8-5||San Francisco Bowl (W)|
Big East: 32-37-1 (.464)
Overall: 64-55-1 (.538)
Remember, if Penn State is considered Linebacker U., BC is O-Line U., and the Eagles continue to recruit and develop quality offensive linemen. However, this is the first time O'Brien hasn't had a senior blocker headed for the NFL (Chris Snee moved from Chestnut Hill into the New York Giants' starting lineup), so younger guys have to come to the front. On defense, rookie linebacker Brian Toal is the kind of building block coaches dream of, the top-level recruit who doesn't often come to Boston College. Many feel Toal trails only Will Green as the top recruit in BC history, and Toal quickly showed signs that he's ready to contribute as a true freshman.
Coming On Strong
Cornerback Will Blackmon is one of the better athletes BC has ever had on defense, and his potential appears endless. (He wants to play on the offensive side of the ball, too, but for now he'll stay on defense and returns.) Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, a captain as a junior, is getting all kinds of national recognition, but you get the feeling he hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential. He and tackle Tim Bulman should be huge together this season. BC also will need one of the young tailbacks to come on strong and keep the team's streak of 1,000-yard rushers alive.
Cause For Concern?
The offense has a lot of questions that have to be answered. The line is younger than it has been and needs new leadership (Jeremy Trueblood?), and there's no experience at tailback (six college carries among the candidates). Both kicking specialists are freshmen, and you just never know how that will work out.
The Whole Truth
Every year, that's the goal, to win the (conference) championship, and if you do that, you get into a BCS game. With Miami not here, obviously the road's not as hard.
Boston College coach Tom O'Brien
CHART BY: THE BC INSIDER
(8-5, 3-4 Big East)
|27||at Penn State||14|
|34||at Virginia Tech||27|
San Francisco Bowl
|Sept. 2||at Ball State (4-8)|
|Sept. 11||Penn State (3-9)|
|Sept. 18||Connecticut (9-3)|
|Sept. 25||at Wake Forest (5-7)|
|Oct. 2||Massachusetts (10-3)|
|Oct. 16||at Pittsburgh (8-5)|
|Oct. 23||at Notre Dame (5-7)|
|Nov. 6||Rutgers (5-7)|
|Nov. 13||at West Virginia (8-5)|
|Nov. 20||at Temple (1-11)|
|Nov. 27||Syracuse (6-6)|