Boston College Football History: A Timeline

BC head coach Frank Spaziani, illustrating how tall Doug Flutie is.

Rodger covered Boston College the school already and took some well-deserved shots at the hockey team, although he failed to mention BC hockey players are so dumb that three of them got hammered and crashed their car into a train.(edit: a reader points out that charges were dropped and it was actually the train conductor's fault.) Seriously. I've known some stupid hockey players in my college days, including one guy who got hammered and thought it would be a good idea to mock execute random people on the street with a cap gun, but crashing your car into a train is a whole new level of dumb.

Anyways, I'm here to break down Boston College's football history. For the early days I need to rely on Wikipedia, as my extensive BC football knowledge only dates back to the late seventies.

1893: The beginning

On October 26, 1893, BC played its first official game against the St. John's Literary Institute of Cambridge followed by its first intercollegiate game against MIT. BC won the first game 4-0, but lost 6-0 to MIT.

I live in Cambridge and I've never heard of the St. John's Literary Institute, but on the other hand I'm illiterate so maybe it still exists. Oh, and they lost to the nerds at MIT. Hahahaha computer nerds.

1896: THE RIVALRY

In 1896, Boston College and Holy Cross began what was to become one of the most storied rivalries in college football.[citation needed]

Citation needed indeed. Other storied rivalries in college football: Northwestern vs. Towson State, Northwestern vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Iowa vs. Iowa Navy Pre-Flight. I mean seriously, can you just write anything you want on Wikipedia and as long as it can't be proven false and isn't slanderous it's allowed to stay up? Someone test this out on Northwestern's Wikipedia page:

"Stefan Demos was one of the most storied kickers in Northwestern history"

"Tim Doyle was one of the most popular players in Northwestern history, and is now a beloved broadcaster"

"Nikola Baran was one of the toughest centers in Big Ten history"

1940: The undefeated season

The greatest year in BC football history: the Eagles went undefeated and beat Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl. Despite their impressive resume, the NCAA isn't impressed, recognizing Minnesota as the only official champion in 1940. I'm trying to imagine a universe in which Boston College and Minnesota both had legitimate claims to a national title in football, and my brain feels like it's going to cave in. This must be what Iowa fans feel like when they think back to 1995 Northwestern football.

1978: The coach on vacation

The Wikipedia page jumps straight from 1940 to the Flutie years in the early 80's; it was a rough 40 years for BC. However, the 1978 team deserves mention because they are one of the most bizarre teams in college football history. The Eagles had 7 future NFL players on the roster, including 5-time Pro Bowler Fred Smerlas, one of if not the best nose tackle in NFL history. Their record for the season? 0-11, including losses to Villanova, UMass, Holy Cross (STORIED RIVAL), and a season-ending defeat to Temple in something called the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan. That has to go down as one of the worst coaching jobs ever, in any sport.

1981-1984: The Doug Flutie Era

To help Northwestern fans understand the importance of Flutie to BC football, here's an analogy: Doug Flutie is to Boston College as Gary Barnett is to Northwestern. Flutie was an incredible college football player, graduating as the nation's all-time leading passer (to put in perspective how much college football has changed to a passing game, he's no longer in the top 50), winning the 1984 Heisman, and leading BC to a 19-5 record his last two seasons, including a Cotton Bowl win on New Year's Day 1985.

But his tremendous on-field accomplishments are only the beginning. Flutie was such a dynamic player that he did the impossible: he made pro sports-centric Boston care about a college team. Despite being overloaded with colleges, Boston has always cared about its professional teams first, and no matter how good a BC team is (and the hockey, basketball and football teams have all had some really good teams over the past ten years), the local fans don't really care, and if they do it's only because the Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics/Bruins aren't on. But Flutie was different; to this day he's still a Boston icon, 100 times more so than great college QBs like Matt Hasselbeck or Matt Ryan. If you were making a list of the greatest Boston sports moments of the last 30 years, Flutie's Hail Mary to beat Miami would probably be near the top of the list; no other BC moment would crack the top 100.

Unfortunately, now that Flutie's pro career is over, he's having quite a bit trouble stepping away from the spotlight and has become one of the most shameless media whores the world has ever seen; more on that later in the week.

2000-2007: The Bowl winning streak

These eight years are seasons Northwestern fans would kill for: eight seasons, eight bowl wins. However, as impressive as that streak sounds, it's rather bittersweet. All eight of the bowl wins came in pre-New Year's Day games with little fanfare, and there were several missed opportunities for greater glory.

The first near miss came in 2001, when BC hosted undefeated, #1 ranked Miami. BC came in 6-2, and had some momentum after beating rival Notre Dame the week before. However, star running back William Green was suspended for the game for an unspecified violation of team rules, and dreams of an upset appeared dashed.

Yet somehow, BC hung right with the eventual national champions, and had a chance to take the lead in the final minute, down 12-7 but deep in Miami territory. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on their side:

 (via CanesWarning)

I've always rooted against BC football and even I can't really find schadenfreude on this one. The ball takes an incredibly unlucky bounce off someone's foot, gets intercepted, and then rather than just letting his teammate get tackled and the game be over, Ed Reed, in decidedly The U fashion, goes into beast mode for the style points touchdown.

However, if you're a BC hater looking for schadenfreude, nothing, and I mean nothing, tops the 2004 Eagles team. 2004 was a transitional year for the Big East, as Miami and Virginia Tech, the two programs that had dominated the conference in recent years, had both left for the ACC, and BC would follow in 2005. So the league title (which would have been BC's first ever, they joined the Big East in 1991) was wide open, as the league had only 7 teams left.

BC had a solid season, and entered the regular season finale ranked 17th in the nation, at 8-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big East. A win would give them the outright Big East title and a trip to the Orange Bowl. Standing in their way: the 5-5 Syracuse Orangemen, who were coming off a loss to the horrendous Temple Owls and had injury problems at running back; their starter Walter Reyes was on the shelf. His backup Damien Rhodes ran for a touchdown on the Orange's first play from scrimmage, but soon had to leave with a leg injury.

Enter the man, the myth, the legend: Diamond Ferri. Ferri was Syracuse's starting safety, but he stepped in at running back. Playing both ways and never coming off the field, Ferri had 28 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns, returned two punts for eight yards, and put the nail in BC's coffin by returning an interception for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter to give Syracuse a 36-17 lead. The final was 43-17, and BC went from the Orange Bowl to the Continental Tire Bowl. Just the name Diamond Ferri should be enough to make a BC fan foam at the mouth.

2004 remains the only conference title in BC's history, as their 4-2 record was enough for a share, but it's a small share, as Syracuse, West Virginia and Pitt all finished 4-2. That's right, four of the seven teams in the Big East that year "won" the conference.

2007 was another big letdown, as they started 8-0 and climbed to the top 5 in the polls after a miracle comeback against Virginia Tech in a nationally televised Thursday night game. But they lost their next 2 games, then lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, and ended up in the Champs Sports bowl.

In fairness to BC, they got completely screwed in the bowl selections that year, but the Eagles will always have the deck stacked against them in the ACC. Not only do BC fans not travel well, but their competition for the good bowl games is other ACC schools with giant fanbases whose campuses are often within driving distance of said bowl games. No bowl president in his right mind is ever going to take BC over Clemson or Florida State for a game held in the south.

2009: The Jeff Jagodzinski Failboat

After two successful years at BC, during which he went 20-8, Jagodzinski decided to interview for the Jets head coaching job, despite being told not to by his boss at BC, athletic director Gene DeFilippo. DeFilippo fired him, Jagodzinski didn't get the Jets job, and BC promoted defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani to head coach.

Meanwhile, Jagodzinski was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as offensive coordinator, but was so bad he got fired before the season started. In 2010, he finally got another head coaching job: with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. And after one season there, he got fired again. His current employment status is unknown, maybe he's coaching C.J. Bacher in Finland.

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