Well, you all know how I feel about Whipple being passed over. It's time to move on and focus on the good stuff. First and foremost is the fact that TOB is gone. This IS good stuff. He did a great job at the Heights, but he had advanced the Eagles as far as he could, and the seasons were starting to take on a "Groundhog Day" feel (7-9 wins, beat up the patsies, lose to the big boys, Bed Bath and Beyond Bowl). I am among the many who think BC can reach a little higher. I certainly don't expect or demand them to be in a BCS bowl every year, but they can compete at the highest level.
BC is not insitutionally limited by size, academics, geography or fan interest, as many O'Brien apologists have said. For one, BC has roughly the same enrollment as Notre Dame and Stanford (not to mention the University of Miami), and twice the enrollment of Wake Forest. All of these schools have reached BCS bowls while balancing tough academic standards. I don't hear them complaining. And you can say all you want about BC's geography being a negative, but the fact of the matter is that BC has a virtual recruiting monopoly in the northeast corridor. Check out their roster. I'll bet 80% of the players come from New York, New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The only real competition BC has for recruits is Syracuse, meaning there has been no competition for the past 5 years. The Cuse sucks, though they somehow managed to beat our dear departed marine time and again. BC should continue to clean up in recruiting as long as Cuse is down, and provided UConn and Rutgers don't make any headway (I do worry a little about Rutgers).
Another reason why I think BC can do better than the Muffler and Tire Bowls is that the football landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The reduction in scolarships in 1994 to 85 has spread the wealth. That's why we've had 10 different champions over the past 10 years. That's why these 1-AA teams keep upsetting the 1A guys, the talent has trickled down. Why can't BC step it up like Wake and Rutgers did this year? BC has much more going for it than those schools. BC has historically been a solid program, the recruiting is there, we have a Heisman Trophy winner and an Outland Trophy winner, we have one of the most famous plays in all of sports in our archives, we have the brand-new Yawkey Athlectics Center. It's laughable to think we can't step it up.
Is Jags the guy to do it? I hope so. Just because they missed a great hire, doesn't necessarily mean they made a bad one. In many ways, I feel the same way as I did when Jim O'Brien left BC in 1997. Things had grown stale with JOB as well, he couldn't win any big games. He lost to UConn something like 18 times in a row, just like TOB kept losing to Miami. BC used the same technique to constructively fire TOB as they did with JOB: they refused to support him. With JOB, it was the admissions department (they wouldn't let a couple of Prop 48 qualifiers in). With TOB it was his salary. When both left, I felt relief. I knew those guys would never move on volitionallly, but I was also convinced BC would never shitcan them because of the PR hit they would sustain.
The parable in this story is that BC hired underwhelming Al Skinner (or so I thought) to replace JOB. We all know how that worked out, NCAA tourney appearances every year and Top 25 (sometimes Top 10) finishes. I am now a certified, card-carrying Skinner-o-phile, the guy was the perfect hire for BC. Maybe Jags will be as well, the jury is obviously out. But at least he is a change from boring ol' TOB, and from what I hear he is a passionate guy who will get the team and the fans fired up. I hope so. BC desperately needed that.