It's become a seemingly annual rite of passage for the Boston College Eagles to be counted out before the season has started. Each season, the preseason polls are taken and the (alleged) ACC cognoscenti pick them to finish anywhere from middle of the pack to dead last—as they did this year.
It has become so commonplace that much of the people surrounding the program have come to expect it and ignore it, though it would be accurate to say it's a thorn in the collective side of the Eagles' fanbase.
As far as those inside the program, one could expect the perennial slighting to be an oft-used motivational tool. Regardless of where they have been predicted to finish in their five years of ACC play, BC has never finished outside of the top two in their division.
In 2007, they were led all the way to No. 2 in the country by star QB Matt Ryan, only to drop two games, needing to win a huge game on the road at Clemson to advance. They did, which resulted in a first-place finish and the ACC Championship game.
Last season, BC needed to win out at Florida State, at Wake Forest, and against Maryland to make a repeat trip to the title game. Repeat, they did and with a starting QB who was gone for the season early in that Wake Forest contest.
This year, there were many reasons the media picked BC to finish sixth out of six teams in the Atlantic division, such as the following:
- Former coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired for interviewing with the New York Jets for their vacant head coaching position.
- Former starting quarterback Dominique Davis transferred due to academic issues.
- ACC Player of the Year linebacker Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer.
- Team captain Linebacker Mike McLaughlin injured his Achilles and missed several games to start the year.
- Just a couple of weeks ago, backup quarterback Justin Tuggle and backup running back Josh Haden, one of the highest-rated recruits BC has ever landed, decided to transfer.
Even after disheartening blowout losses at Clemson and Virginia Tech this season, the Eagles never wavered in their belief that they would be fighting for that ACC title at year's end.
“I’m not stunned,” first-year coach Frank Spaziani said. “We understood going in what our problems were. We had a long way to go, and we knew we had to try and manage our way through. These players never cease to amaze me and they never surprise me, never stun me here at Boston College. That’s one of the reasons I’m still here. So no, we’re not stunned."
The Eagles sit in second-place needing some help from the lowly Virgina Cavaliers to beat Clemson in addition to having to win out against North Carolina and Maryland in order to advance to the title game for a third straight year. But this is standard operating procedure for the Eagles; always fighting until the last week of the season.
Predictions have become only a motivating tool and are bereft of accuracy when it comes to the team from Chestnut Hill. So there is no telling what will happen when the Tar Heels come to town and the Clemson Tigers kick off vs. Virginia on Saturday but one thing is certain...
Boston College will be in it until the end in the ACC. Every year, every game, every play.