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DiMauro: Meet the new loss, same as the old loss

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CHESTNUT HILL, MA. – Somewhere, the words of The Who echo even louder today. Maybe it’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” (many of us did) or “Meet The New Loss, Same As The Old Loss.”

Another football season began at Boston College on Saturday, sun-splashed Alumni Stadium with all the students jumping around, and yes, this would be different. Better days ahead. Offensive line fixed. The requisite optimism tethered to the season opener. (Very) beatable opponent in Northern Illinois, a middling member of the Mid American Conference.

And then BC did the BC thing again. Confounding and confusing. Two quarterbacks. Dropped passes, dumb penalties, furious rally, the lead in overtime, and until ol’ Lucy showed up and yanked the ball away again.

Northern Illinois 27, BC 24. In overtime.

And so while BC coach Jeff Hafley and his players said all the right things after the game — the opportunities were there, blah, blah, blah – here is a question for the entirety of the program:

Why would hardened, tortured BC people believe a word of it? Nothing has changed around here since the day Matt Ryan stepped off campus. Here’s a stat for you: The Boston College Eagles are 89-100 since Ryan left.

“We’re fortunate we got great guys in the locker room. It sucks to lose. But nobody’s bailing out,” linebacker Vinny DiPalma said. “I don’t really think anyone bailed out last year. Last year got pretty tough. We’re not even close to that yet. We got guys who play hard and really care.”

A nice sentiment. But why would anybody who uses his or her BC education buy in for one more second?

The hot take from this loss is to dissect the quarterback situation ad nauseum. (More on that later.) But do you know why BC lost this game? Its best players came up feathers. All of them. And BC just isn’t good enough to overcome that.

It defies explanation that Christian Mahogany, the presumptive savior for the offensive line, contributed two of the 10 penalties, a hold and a false start. Graduate transfer (and all-Sun Belt player from Texas State) Kyle Hergel killed a drive with unnecessary roughness. Defensive ends (and alleged All-ACC candidates) Donovan Ezeiruaku and Shitta Sillah had no sacks, although Ezeiruaku did get flagged for a killer pass interference on third down late with BC down 21-14.

Elijah Jones, the best cornerback, got flagged for pass interference on fourth down that kept a drive alive for Northern Illinois. The result of the drive: touchdown.

How is it possible that your most veteran, most talented and most experienced players swing and miss like that?

“I sat in this room day one, week one, (saying) we can’t be sloppy,” Hafley said. “You can’t have careless penalties. Gosh, I preached about it so much. And here we are with 10 penalties for 93 yards. So that’s disappointing. We need to do a better job there.

“Thirty-seven minutes (of possession for the opponent) is just too high. We get the fourth down stop and get a roughing (the passer) call and then we the fourth down stop and get the (pass interference) call. Disappointing there. We never felt like we could get going on offense because of all the penalties. I felt like we were on the field the whole entire game on defense. You’re going to wear out eventually.”

The penalties certainly didn’t help the sudden quarterback quinella of Emmett Morehead and Thomas Castellanos, the transfer from Central Florida. Both had accuracy issues Saturday, although Castellanos gets high marks on the Excitement-O-Meter.

I asked Hafley if we could expect the two-quarterback thing the rest of the season.

“We’ll talk about it. I think they’re both deserving to play,” Hafley said. “We’ll talk to the offensive coaches and then we’ll go from there. I don’t have an answer for that right now. I respect the question.”

All parties said that playing two quarterbacks was part of the plan. This just in: It’s a dumb plan. Pick one and develop him. The vote here is for Castellanos, a former four-star recruit who scrambled 22 yards behind the line of scrimmage and made a throw to get BC a first down late in the game. The kid is exciting.

“Tommy runs around like a maniac and makes tremendous plays. I mean, that’s just what it is. And Emmett can really throw it. He’s got great command in the huddle,” DiPalma said. “We knew that going into the week and everybody in the locker room knew it, we felt confident with both guys. They both made a ton of plays in camp.”

Lest we forget most of the stadium was empty by the time the Eagles completed their 14-point comeback. Know why? They’d all seen this movie before. The ones who stayed for the ending … have seen that ending all too many times, too.

This program has some work to do before earning the trust of the fan base. Even the students, who were here en masse most of the game, bailed. Hard to blame them. And now they get to ponder losing to FCS (but damn good FCS) Holy Cross at Alumni next week. Oh, joy.

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Basketball

DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

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 

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Football

Boston College lineman Kyle Hergel selected 3rd overall in CFL draft

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The former Eagles guard was not selected in last week’s NFL draft, but quickly heard his name yesterday in the 2024 CFL draft, going 3rd overall to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Hergel, who spent one year at Boston College after transferring from Texas State. The guard was a huge success in helping transform the offensive line play in 2023, gaining the best PFF pass block grade at Boston College (86.6) with no sacks allowed and two quarterback hits on 402 dropbacks. This was good enough to earn All-ACC honorable mention and a trip to the East-West shrine game.

Recently signing with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent following the 2024 NFL draft, Hergel will seemingly look to catch on in the NFL this summer before trekking north of the boarder to play for the Roughriders.

John Pupel gets Patriots rookie camp invite

The former safety will travel to nearby Foxboro, Ma as an invite to Patriots rookie camp. After beginning his college career at Dartmouth, Pupel joined the Eagles in 2022. Starting 11 games last year with 81 tackles, a pack break up and a forced fumble.

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Football

Boston College’s Elijah Jones and Christian Mahogany drafted, others signed: Eagles Draft Weekend Recap

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It was a rather successful weekend for Boston College in the NFL Draft, as both Elijah Jones and Christian Mahogany were taken while guard Kyle Hergel inked a UDFA deal. In addition, longtime and former BC notables Jaelen Gill and Josh DeBerry have received UDFA deals.

Jones – The first Eagle off the board this year, Jones went 90th overall in the third round to the Arizona Cardinals. He missed the final three games of the season for undisclosed reasons but had a big year that shot up his draft stock with a conference-best five interceptions while also defending 13 passes. As a member of the 2018 recruiting class, the corner tallied 60 games at BC and racked up a First-team All-ACC selection this past year.

Jones’ 86.9 defensive PFF grade was the sixth-best in the draft class out of corners and he was the 11th cornerback off the board for the Eagles.

Mahogany – Mahogany sat out of the bowl game and had some noticeable buzz surrounding his name entering the draft, but the guard fell to the sixth round to the Detroit Lions. Mahogany missed most of the 2022 season after an ACL injury but came back fully healthy for 2023, posting the 16th-best total PFF grade out of guards in the draft class.

Mahogany fell further than many, with many projections putting him as a Day 2 pick, but given he’s 24 and his scouting reports present some clear downside, it’s not all that shocking that he fell all the way to the sixth round.

Hergel – Hergel didn’t exactly have any buzz surrounding his name but he managed to grab a UDFA deal with the Saints. He was a four-year starter between North Dakota and Texas State before he was a fifth-year transfer to BC, and he put up a solid enough season to get signed.

DeBerry – DeBerry signed on with the Cowboys, as he transferred to Texas A&M for his fifth year after four seasons with the Eagles. He was a big loss for BC’s secondary, as he started seven games this year for the Aggies and grabbed two interceptions.

Gill – Gill put up huge numbers for Fresno State this past year after three seasons with BC. After an initial start to his career at Ohio State, he transferred to the Eagles ahead of the 2020 season and through three years he put up 1,092 yards. He put up basically half of that in just one year with the Bulldogs, tallying 516 yards on 49 catches and six touchdowns.

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