Boston is a pro sports town. We live and die with the Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics. But we do get excited when our college teams have success. Doug Flutie and Boston College football, Coach Cal and his UMass basketball teams, and even some BC hoop teams have had great runs that captured fan interest across the region.
But those days are gone, especially at Boston College.
BC provides the closest thing we have to big time college sports in our town. They are in the ACC — a major conference in football and basketball — that has BC competing against some of the best basketball and football teams in the country. And the Eagles have failed miserably.
In any school that belongs to a power conference like the ACC, basketball and football are your revenue producing sports. The Eagles men’s hockey team has been great under Jerry York, winning four NCAA championships, the latest in 2012, but hockey does not pay the bills. Football and basketball do.
Let’s start with basketball. Since Boston College fired Al Skinner, the Eagles have posted a 74-108 record for a 40 percent winning percentage under Steve Donahue and Jim Christian. The Eagles have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2009 and have not won a tourney game since 2007. The program seems to have no direction and plays before a slew of empty seats. This is Christian’s second year at the Heights and things are not getting any better as they are 4-21 in ACC play since he took over. That is a program that is totally overmatched.
And don’t tell me that it’s hard for a Jesuit school with high academic requirements to win. Look 40 miles down south and see whats happening at Providence College. Under former BC assistant coach Ed Cooley, the Friars have gone to two straight NCAA tournaments and are currently ranked 10th in the country with player of the year candidate Kris Dunn. So it can be done, but you need the right man to head your program. The jury is out whether Christian is that man.
The football program is in much better shape than basketball, but is just squeaking by to be bowl eligible what fans and alumni want?
Coach Steve Addazio took over a program in ruins when he arrived in 2012 and has done a nice job making BC respectable. But being average does not excite the public or get the alumni to pound their chests with pride. There have been plenty of empty seats at Alumni Stadium and not much excitement around the team. This is Addazio’s fourth season, that’s enough time for him to have recruited the players he wants to make the Eagles a force in the ACC. Last season’s 3-9 record was due in part to injuries at the quarterback position but if Addazio is really the man to lead this program BC needs to have a good season in 2016.
So who is responsible for this mess? Brad Bates is the Boston College athletic director. Bates was hired here in 2012. He took over for Gene DeFilippo who was everywhere in town promoting BC athletics.
Bates, who everyone says is a very nice guy, is much more low key and so far has not done a very good job with his two big revenue producing sports. At what point will the college hold him accountable?
As the joke goes, Boston College wants to be Harvard Monday through Friday but they want to be Alabama on Saturdays. I think right now fans and alumni would be happy just to have their two revenue producing programs become relevant on the Boston sports scene instead of almost invisible.