Offseason Lows To New Heights

Bill RatkusContributor IJune 7, 2009

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 6: Quarterback Dominique Davis #15 of the Boston College Eagles celebrates a touchdown pass to wide receiver Rich Gunnell #18 against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2008 ACC Football Championship game at Raymond James Stadium on December 6, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

A movie I enjoy is Charlie Wilson's War.  There is a scene near the end of the movie when the CIA analyst played by Philip Seymour Hoffman tells Tom Hanks' Charlie Wilson the story of the Zen Master and the young boy.  As the young boy goes through life's trials one consequence builds on another—some positive, and some negative—and while the unnamed village in the story proclaims how wonderful or horrible the outcome of each action, the Zen Master's terse response is: "We'll see."

I bring that up now, because the offseason for Boston College has been tumultuous.  It began with the high-profile young coach named Jeff Jagodzinski cast lustful eyes back to the NFL where he had worked previously, which in turn upset his boss AD Gene DeFilippio so much that he canned the up-and-coming coach with the high winning percentage and two ACC Title Game appearances.  His replacement was the once-passed-over Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani.

Soon after the Spring Game, the Eagles lost their best player, Butkus Watch-Lister and reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich, to a rare cancer known as Ewing's sarcoma.

And just a few days ago, the only quarterback with any experience — Dominique Davis — was pronounced academically ineligible, and he has decided to transfer from the program, leaving an even larger mystery as to who will win the job during the summer practices.

I bring up the anecdote of the Zen Master from a movie for a good reason.  For while this offseason has been troublesome, and while it looks like the BC football program is a ship without a rudder, there are a few things to think about.

Many of the doubts BC fans have heard before.  When former coach Tom O'Brien left the Heights to move to intradivisional rival NC State, many of the experts predicted the fall of a consistent BC program, and in many predictive magazines, BC was picked to finish last in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

"We'll see," said the Eagle fans to the doubters, knowing that there was a very underrated (at the time) quarterback under center for that 2007 season.  Under a new coach and a quarterback who is now the reigning NFL rookie of the year, the Eagles won 11 games for only the second time in program history.

The following year, once again the experts and detractors of the private school in the New England backwater of college football predicted failure for the BC program.  "The all-everything quarterback is gone, without him BC will have a losing season."  Once again, in a few pre-season publications BC was predicted to finish last in the Atlantic.

"We'll see," said the Eagle fans again, knowing that while everyone focused on Matt Ryan, people had missed the fact that the BC defense returned most of the letterwinners from a top-20 defense.  Once again, the Eagles won an unexpected 9 games and another berth in the ACC Championship Game—despite the loss of the starting quarterback late in the season.

And now, BC has to deal with both the loss of a coach and the loss of not one quarterback but two.  The turnover from the previous year's defense has also left holes on this side of the ball.  Many longtime starters are gone:  B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Mark Herzlich, Brian Toal, Mike McLaughlin (a question mark after tearing an achilles), Kevin Akins, Robert Francois.  These names were familiar starters in Chestnut Hill, and now many fresh faces must fill in.

Quarterback is a question mark, the coach is unproven, and much of the front seven on the defense is young.  So of course, THIS is finally the year that the Eagles go down to that long-overdue basement trip.

"We'll see," say the Eagle fans again, but what is it that they know this time around? Keep reading in the days to come.  Perhaps you too might see something you do not expect.