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Make or Break



If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are passionate about athletics at Boston College. I’ve often wondered how many of us “sickos” there really are. My guess: Not as many as the loyalists would like, but not as few as the infidels think.

And so if your blood is typically maroon but with hints of gold, you should know we’re on the doorstep of perhaps the most important year, at least athletically, in BC history.

There are several reasons, not the least of which is tied to impatience. It’s time. BC needs to start winning in football and men’s basketball. Period. An alarming duration of mediocrity – and less – has left BC with its lowest athletic approval rating in its history. Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum are rarely full. BC registers barely a whisper to national media and gets less attention locally than ever.

It is not acceptable, particularly at an institution where “Ever To Excel” is all but a psalm.

Nobody with an affinity for BC wants the school to be a sports factory. That’s not the mission and this isn’t Clemson. But BC needs to be a whole lot better than what we’ve experienced since Gene DeFilippo inexplicably jettisoned Tom O’Brien, Al Skinner and Cathy Inglese.

Remember: From 1980-2010, BC produced a Heisman Trophy winner, won the Cotton Bowl (when it was a major New Year’s Day game), was ranked in the top 10 in football three times, won a dozen bowl games, beat Notre Dame nine times (including six straight at one point) won two division titles and played for the ACC football championship twice, made the Sweet 16 six times, the Elite Eight twice and won the Big East Tournament twice.

In that span, across the beloved Dustbowl walked, in no particular order, Doug Flutie, John Bagley, Michael Adams, Mike Ruth, Tony Thurman, Dana Barros, Bill Curley, Howard Eisley, Danya Abrams, Troy Bell, Jared Dudley, Craig Smith, Sean Williams, Reggie Jackson, Jerome Robinson, Matt Ryan, Luke Kuechly, Mark Herzlich, Bill Romanowski, Glenn Foley, Mathias Kiwanuka, A.J. Dillon, Matt Milano, Zach Allen and dozens of future NFL offensive linemen.

As previously stated: No factory, this. But an athletic program that has produced the aforementioned list – and many others unintentionally omitted – ought to be better than this.

Reason No. 2: Maybe BC’s estimable academic mission precludes it from bearing national cachet athletically. But the treacherous game of musical chairs within the avaricious world of conference realignment leaves BC now at its most vulnerable.

I’m not sure BC would have a seat at the table if the purveyors of greed who run college sports eventually form some super cartel of 50-ish football/basketball programs that hoard all the money. But I believe there’s hope, centered around an improvement in the facilities and the emergence of some Olympic sports, most notably women’s lacrosse, a recent national champion.

The football facilities, new basketball facility and new baseball/softball complex at least make BC competitive – finally – with its ACC brethren. Now the wins must follow to make the overall athletic resume sexier than it is now.

Remember the following: 1) Expansion and realignment don’t appear to be done; 2) People are watching; and 3) recency bias is a real thing. So is recent success. BC needs to start moving the metaphorical needle.

Reason No. 3: There is exciting news around “Friends of the Heights,” BC’s Name/Image/Likeness initiative. Tom Devitt (BC Class of 94) has been named its full-time director, meaning it is somebody’s job now to keep BC competitive in what has evolved – or devolved – into a cesspool.

Devitt, who once coached Wentworth to an NCAA Men’s Basketball Division III Tournament berth and who was on Hartford’s staff when the Hawks went to the dance two years ago, is a good man with an extensive network. He loves his alma mater and is a grand slam hire.

Of note: BC fans should be forever grateful to founding donors (Joe Popolo, Brian Tusa, Sam Raia, and Scott Mutryn) for forming “Friends of the Heights,” as well as Tim McLaughlin, who has been the de facto director for the past few months, while handling multiple properties through Blueprint Sports, his employer.

“Friends of the Heights” is gaining major momentum, hiring Blueprint, a national company devoted to NIL initiatives, to give it structure. But in the spirit of “everybody loves a winner,” BC needs to start winning to encourage fans and alumni to start giving. Might success in football and men’s basketball lead to a “Flutie Effect” for “Friends of the Heights?”

We can quibble with whether we approve of the NIL concept. But it’s not going away. It exists to entice high school kids and prospective transfers and retain existing athletes (as “Friends of the Heights” did with Zay Flowers). It’s refreshing to see this taken seriously.

Now all BC must do is start winning. Now.

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



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 or @BCgenius 

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



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



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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