Boston College Football: Ranking BC's Most Impressive Achievements
Joseph Drum was the first head coach in Boston College history. Within his six game career, he amassed a record of three wins and three losses. That was 117 years ago. Since then, Boston College has seen 33 different head coaches. Thirty-three!
During this time, the Eagles have won 638 games and fourteen bowl games while producing fourteen first round NFL picks and countless local legends. The fans have witnessed the undefeated season of 1940 as well as the majestic and improbable Heisman campaign of Doug Flutie. During these extraordinary years we have seen great players put up jaw dropping stats; some more remarkable than others.
As we watch the 2010 Boston College squad, all eyes are drawn to junior running back Montel Harris. This scrappy 5'10 back sits only 1,253 yards back of Derrick Knight for the school's all-time rushing mark, and with two years of eligibility left, the record is expected to be shattered. With over a century of tradition, there have been some remarkable achievements by Boston College players.
That simply begs the question – which records are meant to be broken? And moreover, which of these feats have been indelibly written into the school's tremendous history?
16. Career Rushing Record
Between 2000 and 2003, Derrick Knight dominated his competition. Under his reign the Eagles began a streak of eight consecutive bowl wins...the longest in NCAA history. His record 3,725 career yards stand as a tribute to his legacy. At only 5'9, Knight defied odds to ink his name in the record book.
It's only fitting that Montel Harris should take his place atop this prestigious list. After all, neither of these backs had elite speed or strength, but their hard and decisive running styles helped them utilize their tremendous offensive lines.
While Harris' story has yet to be written in the team's annals, this record seems destined to be broken.
15. Single Season Receptions
Since 1988, Tom Waddle had held the record for most catches in a single season. This figure seemed almost pedestrian in a day and age where the passing game ruled college football. The rewriting of the history books seemed a foregone conclusion.
In 2007, this record was broken; not by a receiver but by a running back. With the help of quarterback Matt Ryan, Andre Callender brought in 76 receptions to go with 989 rushing yards. The most surprising part? Callender had totaled only 62 receptions in his three previous years as the starting back.
Boston College has been a running team in recent years, but expect this record to be wiped off the books within the next five years.
14. Career Receiving Yards
How many of you Super fans out there know BC's all-time leading receiver? If you said Rich Gunnell, you are correct.
Just last season, Rich Gunnell caught 60 balls for 880 yards, giving him 2,459 on his career. In fact, it was his 130 yard effort against USC that pushed him ahead of former record holder Pete Mitchell. Regrettably, this achievement was secured in a losing effort and received relatively little attention.
Rich Gunnell was always one of my favorite players for the maroon and gold, and deserves his spot amongst the greats. An outstanding receiver and special teams performer, Gunnell was recently cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. Here's hoping he catches on somewhere.
13. Single Season Receiving Yards
Given that BC has never had a receiver top 70 receptions, should it be surprising that nobody has topped 1,200 yards? In 1983 Brian Brennan tallied a school record 1,149 receiving yards. For the past quarter century that record has stood.
The 5'9 Brennan went on to have a respectable career with the Cleveland Browns, catching 315 passes in eight NFL seasons. Unfortunately, in many circles he is best known for his part in an anemic broadcast of a 2005 pre-season Browns game.
12. Career Receptions
Up next is Eagle great Pete Mitchell. The two-time All-American holds the Boston College record for career receptions with 190, which raises an obvious question – why is the reception mark more improbable than the yardage mark?
Quite simply, 190 catches for 2459 yards works out to under thirteen yards per reception. In today's run and gun college game, very few players have a YPC of under thirteen yards.
For a quick comparison, last season's top two receivers (Rich Gunnell and Colin Larmond) averaged 14.7 and 20.6 yards per catch, respectively. Nonetheless, this is quite an achievable record as it breaks down to just 47.5 catches per season.
11. Single Game Receptions
Last season against Notre Dame, Rich Gunnell had a career game, hauling in 10 passes for 179 yards and a score. Two years ago against NC State, Gunnell grabbed eleven balls for a buck twenty three. The schools all-time leading receiver couldn't touch this record on his best days. If he can't do it, who can?
Both Tom Waddle and Pete Mitchell achieved the thirteen reception plateau, and Gunnell's stunning performance is the closest anybody has come to challenging the mark. So what will it take to surpass this milestone?
For starters, the Eagles will have to transform from a run-centric attack to a more pass-based offense. An elite possession receiver and a lack of other options will lead to the necessary targets for a fourteen-catch game. After all, Wes Welker achieved this deed twice last season (and he essentially missed three games). Can anybody on this team break the record? Not likely due to a sharp run game and shaky quarterback performance. However, five to ten years from now this record will no longer stand.
10. Career Points Leader
The 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl. Boston College trails Navy by two points with only seconds remaining. In comes walk-on Steve Aponavicius, a man so seemingly insignificant, the play-by-play booth hadn't even bothered to pronounce his name correctly. The freshman who had been discovered kicking field goals after hours was ready to attempt a career long 37 yard field goal. The stakes couldn't be higher.
The rest, as they say, is history. The man known to his teammates as "Sid Vicious" nailed the field goal, and in an instant became a local hero. Many called his story to an east coast version of the film "Rudy." Except instead of making one tackle, Aponavicius did a lot more.
In his four year at the Heights, Aponavicius didn't just break the scoring record...he shattered it. His 300 career points broke Brian Lowe's previous record by 38 points!
Despite six career-missed extra points, questionable leg strength and a 73% field goal accuracy, the former soccer player scored the most points in Boston College history. It's a feel-good story with a fairytale ending.
9. Single Season Rushing Yards
Boston College has a rich tradition of running backs, especially in recent history. We've seen Derrick Knight, William Green and Montel Harris; but one stands above the rest.
In 1998, Mike Cloud exploded for 1,726 yards on 308 carries, at the time making him the schools all-time leading rusher. While his career mark was quickly broken by Derrick Knight, his single-season record still stands. For a quick comparison, only three players in all of FBS last season had more rushing yards than Cloud did in his unforgettable 1998 season.
While Montel Harris may challenge this mark, this spectacular accomplishment makes for a formidable task.
8. Single Season Points Leader
Keith Barnette set the bar for scoring by tallying 134 points during the 1974 season. Typically a record held by kickers, this fullback's bruising running style allowed him to rush for a school best 22 touchdowns.
I doubt anybody will soon challenge his touchdown record. However, you can expect a kicker to challenge his scoring mark within the next fifteen years. Thirty field goals and 44 extra points would tie the record, and are almost identical to the production of Alabama kicker Leigh Kiffin.
7. Single Game Rushing Yards
Last season against NC State, Montel Harris put on a show I will not soon forget. In a 52-20 walloping of former coach Tom O'Brien, Harris carried 29 times for 264 yards and 5 touchdowns.
If you saw this performance, you knew you were watching history. In fact, the 264 yards broke Phil Bennet's 27-year old record of 253, and ensured that Montel would make a lasting mark in the Eagles archives.
The most impressive aspect of this record-setting performance? The competition. Despite games against Northeastern and Kent State, Montel's rushing escapade took place against against an NC State rush defense that ranked fifth in the ACC.
6. Career Coaching Wins
This accomplishment is difficult to rank as their performance is dictated by the duration of their stay.
Current North Carolina State and former BC head coach Tom O'Brien holds the school's record for all-time wins. Despite legendary play callers including Jack Bicknell and Tom Coughlin, it is O'Brien's 75 wins that stand above.
In ten seasons in Chestnut Hill, O'Brien accumulated a .625 winning percentage as the result of a 75-45 record. I'll be the first to admit, this record doesn't amaze me. Al Skinner is the winningest coach in BC basketball history, and yet he was fired just this off-season.
While O'Brien left on quite different terms, his record is a result of longevity rather than a dominant performance. Should coach Spaz stay at the Heights for a decade, I predict he will break this record.
Alas, today's college football coaches are often poached and overpaid by competing schools, making longevity with any one team a remote prospect. The top coaches leave Boston College for greener pastures while losing coaches will find themselves out of a job. O'Brien's accomplishment is far from amazing, but will nonetheless be difficult to surpass.
5. Single Game Receiving Yards
Back in 1982, a tight end named Scott Nizolek readied himself for a showdown with Penn State. Little did he know, he was about to make Eagles history.
His 229 yards through the air have been a Boston College record for 28 years, a mark I don't anticipate being broken any time soon. The closest performance was Rich Gunnell's phenomenal 179 yard game last season; yet it still trailed Nizolek's record by a hefty fifty yards.
This combo tight end/punter played for BC between 1979-1982 before spending two seasons in the USFL.
4. Career and Single Season Interceptions
These records are held by the same individual, and are both so impressive that it was only right to categorize them together. Tom Thurman played for the Eagles between 1981 and 1984 and holds the records for both single season and career interceptions.
Honestly, it is tough to say which record is less attainable. His twelve-pick senior season is astounding, but his 25 career interceptions are equally remarkable. Not many underclassmen play in the secondary, which makes the 25 seem less attainable. I assure you, neither of these conquests will soon be duplicated.
3. Single Game Passing Yards
As this list reaches it's climax, the feats become more and more -- dare I say -- biblical. The Flutie faithful could be forgiven for confusing their saviors golden helmet for a halo. After all, his 520 passing yards were the football equivalent of walking on water.
Let me repeat myself, 520 yards! Back in 1982 (in fact, the same game in which Nizolek broke the school's receiving mark) the Eagles gave the eventual national champs an epic battle on the strength of an extraordinary aerial assault from Doug Flutie and the Eagles.
The feat is so remarkable that even Matt Ryan couldn't approach the record. In a game against Georgia Tech, Ryan tossed for a career best 435 yards. If the school's second best QB barely came within a hundred yards of the mark, you better believe the record will be up there for a looooong time.
2. Career Passing Yards
This is why lists inevitably end in controversy – decision's like this. Two records. Two quarterbacks. Two legends. Both feat's are so unbelievably sensational, that there is no way to definitely rank one over the other.
Doug Flutie is the best thing to ever happen to Boston College football, bar none. The 3,000 yard season. The Heisman trophy. The Miracle in Miami. He put Boston College on the map, and will forever be remembered as the face of this institution.
Over his four years, Flutie threw for a school record 10,579 yards. The previous record holder Frank Harris accumulated 4,555 yards over his career. Flutie more than doubled that. Doubled! He turned Boston College from an afterthought to the perennial ACC contender they are today.
The most amazing part? His impact on the gridiron is unrivaled by his off-field influence as he's been an invaluable crusader in the fight against autism. A great player, a great person, and a record-holder who will be remembered long after his records have been broken.
1. Single Season Passing Yards
To me, the 2007 season was absolutely stupendous. The come from behind win against Virginia Tech. The week spent as the number two team in the country. Matt Ryan's single season passing record.
That's right, with 4,507 passing yards Matt Ryan didn't just break the passing record, he destroyed it. During Doug Flutie's landscape changing 1984 Heisman season, he passed for 3454 yards. Matty Ice topped that figure by over a thousand yards. They say record's are supposed to be broken, but I've never heard anybody say record's are meant to be shattered.
Now I realize the hypocrisy here. It's far easier to pass with the rules against physical cornerback play. Flutie didn't have the luxury of an ACC championship game (hell, BC was an independent up until 1990). Nonetheless, this is the most tremendous feat in BC history and Ryan deserves his name to be mentioned alongside the immortal Doug Flutie.