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DiMauro: BC haters have never been happier. Does anyone at BC care?

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It was the end of a long Saturday, column written for Eagles Daily, and now I am pondering the two-hour drive home. I am annoyed. Not merely because Boston College no-showed for a chunk of its home football opener, but because I honestly didn’t encounter one person postgame who seemed as irritated as I was.

Not one coach. Not one player. Not one member of the athletic staff. Nobody.

The best I got was “well, that was disappointing” from a staffer. Disappointing? “Disappointing” is when it rains on the way to the beach. “Disappointing” is when the bartender dumps too much ice into the scotch glass. Losing to something called Northern Illinois – at home coming off a 3-9 season – is not “disappointing.” It is unacceptable. It is inexcusable. And ought to be treated as such.

I’m entering the elevator atop Alumni Stadium and notice this poster-sized message on the back wall. It read: “Athletics mission: Provide our student-athletes with an exceptional experience, fostering values, personal growth and athletics excellence.”

I’m thinking, “where’s an egg when you need one?”

The “exceptional experience” and “fostering values” and “personal growth” stuff are noble. But when does BC start achieving the part about “athletics excellence?”

BC football has produced a record of 5-16 in its last 21 games. Basketball hasn’t made the tournament since 2009, although Earl Grant appears to be on the path. And while some of BC’s Olympic sports are doing well – notably women’s lacrosse, among the best programs in the nation – athletic departments are judged on football and men’s basketball. (Just ask Stanford, which spent a few weeks as a vagrant, despite having the best Olympic sports programs in the country.)

It is for this reason that BC haters have never been this giddy. They’ve never had this much material. And I’m wondering if there is anybody on that campus – anybody – who is aware of how much Boston College is mocked in barber shops, gin mills and social media. Or if they really care. Because here’s my sense: Boston College is a passion for some of us. It is mere employment for others. And it’s reflected in how “disappointing” Saturday turned out.

Now I get that many in the court of public opinion, particularly social media, aren’t exactly returning champions on Jeopardy. And while it’s fine to dismiss the occasional nitwit, as a whole they do create public perception. Currently, the perception is that BC is a laughingstock that gets ridiculed on social media and ignored in mainstream media.

And so I ask again: When is BC going to start fulfilling its self-fancied athletics mission of “athletic excellence” hanging right there in the elevator?

Full disclosure here: I live and work in Connecticut. I am BC’s de facto delegate in the state where the Eagles are hated the most. No argument that it’s very skewed. I try to mount the best offense I can. But I’m running out of material. I can only trot out “SAT scores” so often.

It’s not just the Connecticut people. BC is a punching bag for Providence fans, too. Heaven forbid there’s a loss Saturday to Holy Cross. Even the UMass folks, who really can’t say much, pile on. You know why? Because they can. Because BC gives all of them reason.

I ask: When is this going to stop? Is there anybody in that athletic department with a pulse? When are we going to demand that things start changing? When are we going to see and feel some accountability for 16 football losses in 21 games? Or is it all just “disappointing” for everybody?

I’m not saying somebody needs to go full George Steinbrenner. But I remember the days of Tom Coughlin. I remember the days of Gary Williams. They did not tolerate fools. Nor did they accept losing. It was not “disappointing” to them. It was fodder for betterment.

My sense is that I’m going to get dismissed as a crackpot in that snooty BC way of remaining above the fray. That’s the problem. Somebody needs to get in the fray. Somebody needs to start demanding accountability. It’s nice and gosh golly whiz wonderful that we have student-athletes who open books, say please and thank you, and help senior citizens on and off the T.

Now it’s time to start winning games. It’s hanging right there in the elevator. Does anybody ever take the time to read it?

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Football

DiMauro: The buzzkillers who run Boston College

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My favorite English professor at Boston College, the late, great Dr. John J. Fitzgerald, loved the writings of Alexander Pope, poet and satirist during the Enlightenment Era. I shall now take pleasure in taking what I learned in class at BC to deliver an overdue lecture to university leadership, badly in need of its own Enlightenment Era.

What transpired this past Saturday, during an otherwise anticipated and eventful day on campus, illustrated BC leadership’s dizzying levels of obtuseness. Instead of celebrating the spring football game (with actual buzz because of new coach Bill O’Brien), baseball game against a nationally ranked opponent, national championship hockey game and the ALC Showdown, celebrating BC’s 17 different dance teams, BC students were issued a missive:

“Good evening Mod residents,” wrote Mike Sanzio, Interim Resident Director of the Mods, “as you saw earlier today from the Dean of Students Office, our men’s ice hockey team will be competing in the national championship game Saturday night. 

“This will be a busy weekend, filled with events such as the ALC showdown and spring football game. This is an exciting time for your community and I wanted to remind you of Mod-specific policies so we can appropriately celebrate these occasions. No outside gatherings are permitted in the Mods. Alcohol is not permitted outside your Mod.”

Some attendees of the spring game saw several “alcohol compliance supervisor” jackets from the commandos hired to patrol the parking lots. 

Sanzio got thrown down a flight of stairs by BC loyalists on X (formerly known as Twitter). I’m guessing Sanzio was just doing his job, carrying out orders from above. You’ve heard the “towers on the Heights reach the Heav’ns own blue?” This was from the ivory towers on the Heights. 

BC’s buzzkill rules and regulations hearken a line once written by Raymond Chandler: “The tragedy of life is not that things die. The tragedy is that they grow old and mean.” That’s the tenor of BC right now: old and mean. 

Can someone explain why Mods dwellers – most of whom are 21, by the way – were issued something so puritanical on what should have been a fun day? Do the people who run BC understand the power of sports on campus? This just in: Kids derive strength and appreciation for their school through campus events designed to cultivate pride and senses of “we” and “us.” It’s more important than ever today in a society too busy texting to notice anything or anyone else.

The Mods are a campus institution. The last time ESPN’s College GameDay was on campus, Lee Corso uttered the now classic, “party in the Modes!” line, mistaking “Mods” for “Modes.” It’s unlikely he came with that on his own. Somebody probably whispered in his ear at some point that the Mods are central to the BC student experience.

And then we get “no outside gatherings” and “alcohol compliance supervisors.” Overkill, anyone? If a kid gets caught hiding a Heineken, what’s the penalty these days? Firing squad at dawn?

And to think that O’Brien spent ample time last week trying to fire up the students to attend the spring game. Then the administration betrays him by issuing antisocial missives during what should be the most social day of the year on campus.

Is there a good reason – Puritanism aside – that tailgating isn’t allowed for the spring game? Someone tell the BC administration that Ohio State drew 80,000 for its spring game. Imagine passing the edict out there that Buckeye fans couldn’t tailgate?

I get that the missions of BC and Ohio State aren’t the same. But then, they are both in power conferences. It’s just that only one acts that way.

The worst thing that happened Saturday at BC was not that the hockey team lost. The worst thing was O’Brien learning what life is really like at The University of Austerity: A spring game with buzz. A national championship game at night. And an administration petrified of its own success.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius on X.

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Joe Griffin enters transfer portal

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Boston College wide receiver Joe Griffin has announced his decision to enter the transfer portal. The news comes a day before the Eagles were set for their spring game which will take place tomorrow, 12pm, at Alumni Stadium.

With leading receiver Lewis Bond still in the fold, along with transfers Jerand Bradley from Texas Tech and Jayden McGowan out of Vanderbilt, the depth chart has seemingly been beefed up surpassing Griffin the opportunity for ideal playing time.

As a freshman, the Springfield, Ma product showed a lot of promise, catching 18 passes for 234 yard and five touchdowns. His five scores were good for second on the team. His sophomore campaign did not see an uptick in production, as his registered a slightly better 25 catches for 345 yards and a lone touchdown.

The former 4-star local recruit will now be on the lookout for a new home.

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Rider: A breath of fresh air

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Over the last 15 seasons of Boston College football, fans have come into each year with a simple hope. One where the team would finally eclipse the 7-win mark. For a magnitude of different reasons, they have not been able to do so.

Steve Addazio could not shake the number seven during his tenure, gaining the moniker “Seven win Steve” due to his almost perpetual 7-6 record as head coach, something he accomplished in five of his total, you guessed it, seven seasons at the helm.

The 2018 was the peak of Addazio’s success in Chestnut Hill as the team reached 7-2, a place in the AP poll and College Game Day made its way to the Heights. Bottoming out losing their final three games on top of a freak-of-nature bowl cancellation left the seven-win mark intact. The following year, 2019, was the end of the Addazio era. Despite a season-ending win that granted the Eagles bowl-elligibility, the Eagles fied

This is where Jeff Hafley entered the fold. With all the pomp and circumstance, excitement exploded from through the Yawkey Athletic Center ceiling, as Hafley birthed a catchphrase the program would rally behind, “Get In.”

With any coaching change, roster turnover is to be expected. Pair that with the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world at its core, and face of the program A.J. Dillon departing for the NFL. Despite this, the BC community was sold on the new head coach. After Hafley laid out his vision for the school in his introductory press conference, then proceeded to navigate through adversity of the inaugural 2020 campaign. Hafley’s inaugural season was deemed highly successful with their 6-5 record.

“And we’ll be sitting up here we’ll be talking about a lot of great things because in all honesty, I want to compete and I want to win, I want to get better and I want this to be a top 25 program. That’s real, that’s the truth, and it can be.” Hafley continued with his vision,. “I want there to be magical moments and magical seasons, like you guys have seen with Doug and Matt. We need to bring back those magical moments to the heights. That’s why I’m here.”

Similarly to his predecessor, Hafley was unable to bring BC to the next level. Although he had the Eagles at Bowl eligibility in three of his four seasons, he subsequently won six games in each of those seasons. It seems that not only was he not fulfilling the expectations to raise the program, they seemed to have taken a small step back. Hafley’s tenure was mired with frustration, inadequacy, and disappointment in living up to the lofty expectations set by the fanbase. It ultimately was the inability to see the vision materialize, or even give a sense of a palpable path leading towards it in four seasons.

This brings us to the present day of Boston College football and the state of the team, and expectations are once again high and hopeful.

With newly minted head coach Bill O’Brien set to roam the Alumni Stadium sidelines there is a lot to like with this marriage. At the time of this writing, there have been no reports of a mass exodus for the current roster. It seems as though O’Brien will have a majority of the team intact for his initial season. That includes stand-out quarterback Thomas Castellanos, who announced via his Instagram “We staying” allowing BC fans and alumni worldwide to breathe a side of relief.

It cannot be understated just how important it is to get the majority of the team to buy back in, and accept new leadership — especially in this day and age in college football where the transfer portal is prevalent. Boston College administration knew what they had to do to keep the fallout form Hafley’s departure to a minimum, and the quality hire of O’Brien does just that. It instantly allows BC to keep their momentum off their bowl win in December and look to elevate, not rebuild.

Simply put, Hafley was coaching for his job this upcoming season. With the likes of a much more difficult schedule in ’24, the doubt was valid. BC has the likes of a trip to Florida State to open the year, Mizzou, and a Fenway Bowl rematch down in Dallas with SMU. Michigan State is also set to come to Chestnut Hill. This is a stark contrast to the 2023 schedule, which most pundits agreed was one of if not the easiest in FBS. Going from a guy who was coaching for his preverbal life, and in a corner alone, to a guy whose track record speaks for itself and has the backing of an entire community.

O’Brien has already instilled more juice and buzz into the program than any player, coach, or moment has since Lane Stadium went quiet in 2007.

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