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And in that corner… The Boston College Eagles

Nov 16, 2011, 11:58 AM EDT

Image (1) tn1_BC_turf.jpg for post 2369

Some rivalries mean a little bit more. When Notre Dame and Boston College take the field, the game isn’t likely to garner national headlines or bring ESPN to town. But the “Holy War” has been filled with memorable moments, with most of them featuring the Eagles tripping up an Irish squad — sometimes on the brink of something great.

The Irish’s first loss to Boston College — a 41-39 shocker in 1993 — put the rivalry on the map. But Lou Holtz wasn’t the only Irish coach to get tripped up by the Eagles. Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis all lost to BC, with Willingham’s No. 4 rated Irish nearly doubling the Eagles in yardage but losing 14-7 thanks to five back-breaking turnovers (three fumbles and two Pat Dillingham interceptions in eight throws). Some Irish fans still struggle to acknowledge Boston College as a true rival, but the two-game win streak the Irish are on is their first since 1998, so any air of superiority should have been washed away throughout the Eagles six-game win streak.

This year’s Boston College team is in the midst of an incredibly disappointing season. Head coach Frank Spaziani finds himself squarely on the hot seat, as the third year head coach and long-time Eagles defensive coordinator is sitting at an ugly 3-7, with wins over UMass, Maryland and North Carolina State. His best offensive player, Montel Harris has struggled with injuries all season and his offense has been anemic, scoring more than 20 point only twice.

Through it all has been Bill Maloney, the proprietor of Eagle in Atlanta, one of the longest standing Boston College blogs on the internet. Bill was kind enough to get us up to speed on the Eagles, joining me for the second year in a row. I asked, he answered, you read.


Most predicted the Eagles to take a step forward this season. That’s obviously not been the case. Can you put your finger on one thing that’s been the problem? Just how disastrous has this season been for Frank Spaziani and Boston College?

There isn’t one thing and that is the big problem. Injuries and inexperience are the excuses you hear from Spaz. And it makes sense that he points to those issues as it absolves him of blame. Both are legitimate issues but not the reason BC is only 3-7. Spaz is now on his third coordinator and the results still stink. BC has trouble executing basic plays and time and seems to have a grab bag of offensive philosophies.

Lack of development along the offensive line has been troubling.

The defense — which is Spaz’s baby — has also struggled. They have been blown out twice this season. Even in lean years BC could usually count on the D to keep games close. Not this season.

Plus there are dozens of in-game strategic mistakes that Spaz makes every week. Some of those cost us close games like Northwestern or Duke.

Just how hot is Frank Spaziani’s seat? Do you see him surviving into next year? What are the pros and cons to firing him?

If fans were voting Spaz would be gone already. I actually think he is fairly safe though. I think the University leadership will give him another year as they are blaming Jeff Jagodzinski for all of this season’s problems.

I am firmly in the “Fire Spaz” camp. The only pro I can see for keeping him is saving a few dollars on salary. There is no other reason to keep him around. Recruiting is mediocre even by the staunchest Spaz supporters. He’s not trending the right way in his wins — considering this is Year 3. His age limits the idea that he is building towards the future or that he is a long-term solution.

Injuries have ravaged the Eagles. What’s been the most crippling blow to the team?

Montel Harris was probably the most costly injury. Although the other RBs have had nice games, no one has Harris’s ability to make something from nothing. If he had been around the whole season, BC’s offense would have been a little more consistent.

The Irish have Manti Te’o, their own All-American candidate at linebacker. But for someone that watches Luke Kuechly every week, just how good is he? What do you think his NFL career will be like? Is there a player you can compare him to?

Kuechly is very good. I haven’t seen many players who can shed blockers like he can. He has a great feel for the game and where the action is going. Plus he’s got underrated closing speed, which helps him cover a lot of ground.

I think he can be very good in the NFL. He might not have ideal size, but his productivity should get him drafted in the first round. I don’t know if there is a great NFL comparison right now. Since he is an undersized MLB.

Irish fans have their own second-year quarterback to be critical of, but how would you describe Chase Rettig’s sophomore season? Could you call this year a step forward? Is he still the long-term answer at the position?

I actually remain a big supporter of Chase Rettig. While he is not perfect and hasn’t made a big leap this year, I don’t know if any QB could shine in this situation. He switched coordinators midseason. His Oline has him running for his life half the time. He doesn’t have great skill position guys and his coach refuses to ever open up the offense.

He’s not as accurate as he needs to be, but he’s still got a good arm. I think with time his accuracy will improve. As for his future, it really depends on what BC decides to do with the offense. If Dave Brock wants more running from his QB next year, that is probably not a great sign for Chase. If they will finally start to focus on the pass, he could be very good.

Regardless of their record, Boston College always seems up for a battle with Notre Dame. If you had to pick a way for the Eagles to spring an upset, give me the roadmap. Do you think it will happen?

I have real doubts about BC’s ability to upset the Irish. Even if they force a lot of turnonvers (step 1 for beating ND), I don’t see BC scoring enough to make a difference. I think BC would need to score at least 24 to even entertain an idea of an upset. Spaz has only scored more than 24 on the road once in three years.

Bonus question: How does it feel watching Tom O’Brien struggle at North Carolina State?

I make many jokes about O’Brien but at this point I really don’t care. If anything I am surprised. I didn’t think he would turn them into a power, but I thought he would have more success.


Be sure to check out Bill’s site during the run-up to the game this weekend, and give him a follow on Twitter at @bcatleagle.

  1. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 16, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Notre Dame:Boston College=Michael Corleone:Fredo. Nuff said.

    • nudeman - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:44 AM

      And Sayurday BC is gonna’ end up like Moe Green

  2. fitz79 - Nov 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    I’m not shy about predicting a Notre Dame romp in this one. At least a 20 point win over a very weakened BC squad. Our only trip up could be if we’re unfocused and looking ahead to Stanford but even so it should be a comfortable enough win. I’ll still never forgot what happend in ’93…revenge! Go irish!

  3. 808raiderinparadise - Nov 16, 2011 at 5:47 PM


  4. ndfanwabashman - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    And just think, had they fired Spaz one week earlier, they could be riding the Bob Davie train!

    Pop quiz: Who has more wins, Boston College this year or New Mexico the next five?

    • papadec - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM

      OUCH!!!!!! That was cold. Probably very close to the truth – but still cold.

  5. trbowman - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    On a side note, good for Bob Davie getting the New Mexico job. Class act, underrated coach! Should do good things there but has his work cut out for him.

    Hope ND plays them sometime.

    • 9irish - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:50 PM

      I agree….just didn’t click for some reason. I am kind of surprised he is giving up his ESPN gig after 10 years

      • nudeman - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        “just didn’t click” because he was a terrible limited in his view of the offensive side of the ball

    • lobo62 - Nov 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      indeed! Welcome to to UNM Bob Davie. Unfortunately our stupid NBC affiliate here decided not to show the Notre dame-Boston College game today. Instead we are slated for two hours of paid advertising!!!!!!!!

      Shame on you KOB TV!

  6. jommy995 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Isn’t Davies the guy who was complicit in the axeing of Lou?

    • 9irish - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:34 AM

      Nahhh…never heard that one before (I don’t know, for sure). Lou was tired, no ND coach ever makes it past about 10 years. They weren’t all that great at the time, too. I liked them hiring Davie at the time (from within) when Lou called it quits, and I liked it when they fired him. Just didn’t work out. Good luck to him.

    • nudeman - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:49 AM

      He wasn’t “complicit” as far as I know; but there was some litigation shortly after Lou left. As I recall a former player accused Holtz of being overly aggressive or verbally abusive or something like that. It went to trial; Davies was a witness and when asked if he thought Lou had crossed the line said “yes”.

      Anybody remember that with a little more specificity? It’s been years, obviously

  7. papadec - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    I know a lot of people like the idea of the two Division I Catholic schools playing each other. I’m not one that likes it at all. GO IRISH!!!!!

    • 9irish - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

      Me either! too much trouble. I think they’re still pissed that we stole Frank Leahy from them.

      • 9irish - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        or stole him back, would be more appropriate, I guess. They have had some good coaches.

  8. acieu - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Since God is now a Denver Broncos fan does this mean he or she doesn’t care about Notre Dame?

  9. alsatiannd - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Every season I reserve for one opponent a prayer that they may be smited wholly and completely. Sure I pray to beat Michigan and USC, but I pray to demolish BC utterly.

  10. runners00 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    I have never really thought of BC as this huge rival — comparable to SC or Michigan. BUT, for BC, we are massive. Like a lot of other teams on our schedule, the kids at BC circled the date of this game months ago. Their players’ aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, best friends — all of them are going to want to see the game. So, we have to be cognizant of this — that their kids are going to want to play out of their minds Saturday.

    We still have too much talent and organization and we should win this one going away — but I’m still nervous. BC is not a pushover.

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