|Boston College Eagles football|
|Athletic director||Gene DeFilippo|
|Head coach||Frank Spaziani|
|Home stadium||Alumni Stadium|
|Location||Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts|
|Past conferences||Big East|
|Postseason bowl record||13–9|
|Conference titles||2004 (Big East)|
|Division titles||2007, 2008 (ACC Atlantic)|
|Heisman winners||1 (Doug Flutie)|
|Colors||Maroon and Gold|
|Fight song||For Boston|
|Mascot||Baldwin the Eagle|
|Marching band||"Screaming Eagles" Marching Band|
|Rivals||Notre Dame Fighting Irish |
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Boston College Eagles football team represents Boston College in the sport of American football. The Eagles compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Begun in 1892, Boston College's football team was one of six "Major College" football programs in New England as designated by NCAA classifications, starting in 1938. By 1981, and for the remainder of the twentieth century, BC was New England's sole Division I-A program. It has amassed a 624–444–37 record and is 99–54–0 since the turn of the 21st century.
The Eagles are coached by Frank Spaziani, commonly referred to as "Coach Spaz." Boston College is one of only two Catholic universities that field a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the other being Notre Dame. The Eagles' home games are played at Alumni Stadium on the Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. In addition to success on the gridiron, Boston College football teams are consistently ranked among the nation's best for academic achievement and graduation. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, the football team's Academic Progress Rate was the highest of any school that finished the season ranked in the AP or ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls.
- 1892–1972: Independent
- 1973–1977: Division I Independent
- 1978–1990: Division I-A Independent
- 1991–2004: Big East Conference
- 2005–present: Atlantic Coast Conference
In 1892, Boston College President Edward Ignatius Devitt, S.J., grudgingly agreed to the requests of two undergraduates, Joseph F. O'Connell of the class of 1893 and Joseph Drum of the class of 1894, to start a varsity football team. Drum would become the first head coach, albeit an unpaid position and O'Connell was captain. 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. Some of the original team's alumni had particularly significant careers: captain Joseph Drum became the first BC graduate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Joseph F. O'Connell was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and running back James Carlin became president of the College of the Holy Cross.
1940 - "Team of Destiny"
The 1940 season can arguably be called the greatest year in the history of Boston College football. BC's undefeated (11-0) and untied team captured the 1941 Sugar Bowl championship and earned the nickname "Team of Destiny". Five members of that storied team have been inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame: end Eugene Goodreault (50); guard George Kerr (47); center Chet Gladchuk, Sr. (45); fullback Mike Holovak (12); and halfback Charles O’Rourke (13). It included a 19–18 victory over Georgetown before 41,700 fans at sold-out Fenway Park, that was called one of the greatest games ever by famed sportswriter Grantland Rice. Going into the game, the Hoyas had twenty-two consecutive victories spanning three seasons. BC trailed until the third quarter, when a 43 yard touchdown pass from Charlie O'Rourke to Monk Maznicki put the Eagles ahead. With just seconds remaining, BC had the ball on their own nine, fourth down and 18 to go. Georgetown set up to return the Eagles’ punt. Instead of punting, O’Rourke scrambled in his own end zone for 45 seconds then took a safety. BC used the free kick to boot the ball far downfield and dashed the Hoyas' three-season unbeaten record. Legendary Coach Frank Leahy took his undefeated Eagles on to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans where they beat Tennessee. A banner on BC's campus commemorating the team uses the phrase "national champions," but Boston College was not awarded a national championship by any of the national polls at the time of the 1940 season. Although BC's claim to a title is not recognized by the NCAA or college football historians in general, one website, the College Football Data Warehouse, claims that selectors named Cliff Morgan and Ray Bryne rated BC #1 in 1940. This web site states that BC's historic 1940 run resulted in a split championship with the University of Minnesota, but it's not clear whether the selectors awarded BC a title at the time of the 1940 season, or if they did so retroactively. The NCAA lists only Minnesota as the national champion in 1940, and does not credit BC with any national championships in football.
The Flutie years
The early 1980s are sometimes referred to as "The Flutie Era", and are often credited with putting BC football firmly into the big time. Quarterback Doug Flutie played for Boston College from 1981 to 1984, and won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year. He gained national attention on November 23, 1984, when he led the Eagles to victory in a high-scoring, back-and-forth game against incumbent national champion Miami Hurricanes (led by star QB Bernie Kosar). The game was nationally televised on CBS the day after Thanksgiving, and had a huge audience. Miami staged a dramatic drive to take the lead, 45–41, in the closing minute of the game. Boston College then took possession at their own 22-yard line with 28 seconds to go. After two passes moved the ball another 30 yards, only six seconds remained on the clock. On the last play of the game, Flutie rolled out right away from the defense and threw a Hail Mary pass that was caught in the end zone by senior wideout Gerard Phelan, giving BC an insanely miraculous 47–45 win. A persistent urban legend holds that this play essentially clinched the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the best player in college football that year, for Flutie; in fact, the Heisman voting was already complete by the day of the game. It has been called "the greatest moment in college football."
Boston College's Cody Williams earned some negative press in 1996 when news broke that some football players had bet against BC in a bad loss on October 26 to Syracuse. After the 45–17 beating by the Orangemen, word leaked out to Head Coach Dan Henning that several players may have bet against the team in the game, and the coach subsequently told the university administration. Following an investigation by the university and law enforcement officials, 13 players would be suspended from the team for the season for placing illegal bets — seven permanently from the football program. As a result of the scandal and a mediocre 16–19–1 record as coach, Henning resigned at the end of the 1996 season.
Tom O'Brien era
In December 1996 BC hired a 1971 Navy graduate and the former Virginia offensive coordinator Tom O'Brien. O'Brien arrived at The Heights with plans to revive the program after the team had been tarnished in the wake of the scandal. With good recruiting skills and a strong coaching staff around him, notably offensive coordinator Dana Bible and defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, O'Brien turned the program into a consistent top-25 team. The team was also helped by increased exposure on the national stage due to the move to the ACC and, later, improved facilities in the form of the Yawkey Center.
Following two mediocre seasons in 1997 (4-7) and 1998 (4-7), O'Brien's vision of a re-built football program began to take shape. In 1999, the Eagles finished the regular season 8–3 including a 31–29 win at Notre Dame Stadium on November 20. BC had earned itself its first bowl berth since being ensnarled in the 1996 gambling scandal. Despite the excitement of its first postseason game in five years, Boston College laid an egg at the Insight.com Bowl in Tucson, Arizona, getting squashed by the University of Colorado, 62–28. In 2000 BC finished the regular season at 6–5 with just enough wins to be bowl-eligible and found themselves in Honolulu for the Aloha Bowl where they downed Arizona State 31–17, giving O'Brien his first bowl victory as head coach.
The year 2001 saw Boston College end a 21-game losing streak to ranked opponents when, in the Music City Bowl, the Eagles beat No. 16 Georgia 20–16 to finish at 8–5. But the most memorable moment of the year came in another thrilling game against then-No. 1 Miami at Alumni Stadium. Trailing 12–7 BC stood at the Hurricanes 9-yard-line, poised to win with just over 20 seconds left in the contest, but an interception thrown by Eagles quarterback Brian St. Pierre cost the game. St. Pierre threw too low for receiver Ryan Read, and the pass ricocheted off a Miami defender's leg and fell into the hands of defensive back Ed Reed, who returned it 80 yards for a touchdown — preserving a win for the Hurricanes and keeping its hopes alive for a national championship, which they would eventually win. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the season had several highs including running back William Green rushing for 1,559 yards and being the top RB taken in the 2002 NFL Draft; eight wins for the first time since 1993; and finishing the season ranked (No. 21) for the first time since 1994.
Over the next few years the team posted respectable win-loss records and continued to win bowl games. In 2002, BC went 9–4 and won the Motor City Bowl, in 2003 they were 8–5 with a victory in the San Francisco Bowl and finished 9–3 in 2004 with a win in the Continental Tire Bowl. The year 2004 would be the Eagles final campaign in the Big East, and it finished the season in a four-way tie atop the league after losing the home finale to Syracuse (thus costing the Eagles a coveted berth in a BCS bowl) — a year in which they closed the season ranked No. 21 in both major polls.
Rise in the ACC and recent history
In Jagodzinski's first year, the Eagles were picked to finish 2nd in the Atlantic in the ACC Preseason Poll. The Eagles raced out to a 7–0 start behind the arm of Matt Ryan and a stout, senior-laden defense. The Eagles climbed to #2 in the BCS Standings before squaring off against #8 Virginia Tech on a rainy night at Lane Stadium. The Eagles struggled on offense all night and trailed the Hokies 10–0 late in the 4th quarter. In a miraculous comeback, Ryan threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:11 of game to give BC the victory. Ryan's second touchdown pass, a 24 yard tear-drop pass to a wide open Andre Callender in the back of the end-zone, caused ESPN's Chris Fowler to exclaim "Lane Stadium goes silent!" The come-back win vaulted Ryan into the Heisman discussion. BC clinched the ACC Atlantic Division with yet another dramatic win, this time over rival Clemson. Matt Ryan was once again the hero, finding a wide-open Rich Gunnell for a 43-yard TD pass with 1:46 to go to give the Eagles the 20–17 lead. Clemson's 54-yard FG attempt to tie the game fell short, clinching the victory for Boston College. The Eagles eventually lost the ACC Championship Game to the Hokies. BC played in the Champs Sports Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans, winning 24–21. 2007 marked the second time in Eagle history that the team won 11 games, the other being the undefeated 1940 season. Matt Ryan won the Manning Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, becoming BC's first major award recipient since Mike Ruth won the Outland Trophy in 1985. Ryan finished 7th in the Heisman race, garnering 9 first place votes. Jamie Silva was a Consensus All-American, BC's first since William Green in 2001.
The 2008 season saw the Eagles return to the ACC Championship Game, this time behind a defense that ranked 5th in Total Defense. The Eagles fell once again to the Hokies. In both 2007 and 2008, the Eagles had defeated the Hokies in the regular season meeting only to lose in the ACC Championship Game.
Prior to the 2009 season, star LB and reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Herzlich was forced to miss the entirety of the 2009 season. Herzlich became an inspirational figure as he battled his way back, earning the Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, an award presented annually to college football's most inspirational player or team. Boston College created a chapter of Uplifting Athletes to benefit Ewing's Sarcoma research. The chapter participates in an annual "Lift for Life" (where players compete in various physical challenges) to raise money. On October 3, 2009, Herzlich publicly announced on College Gameday that he was cancer-free. Herzlich completed the comeback when he took the field once again on September 4, 2010, against Weber State.
It was announced on December 1, 2009, that the Boston College football team, along with 29 other athletic programs on campus, would officially switch its athletic outfitter from Reebok to Under Armour. On July 1, 2010, BC became the tenth Football Bowl Subdivision team to wear uniforms from the Baltimore-based outfitter, joining Auburn, Hawaii, Maryland, North Texas, South Carolina, South Florida, Texas Tech and Utah.
In 2011, the Eagles finished 4–8 and failed to qualify for a bowl for the first time in 12 years. Following the 2011 season, junior LB Luke Kuechly won the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award, the Lott Trophy, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Kuechly is the first Eagle to win these awards.
In 2005, the Yawkey Athletics Center was constructed at the north end-zone side of the stadium. The Yawkey Center houses the football offices and weight room. A replica of Doug Flutie's 1984 Heisman Trophy is on display in the BC football museum on the first floor of the Center.
In 1896, Boston College and Holy Cross began what was to become one of the most storied rivalries in college football. For much of the early to mid 20th century, BC and The Cross drew some of New England's largest sports crowds. In 1913, BC began playing home games at Alumni Field.
To accommodate larger crowds, the Holy Cross game was routinely held at larger venues off campus, with the 1916 matchup taking place at the newly constructed Fenway Park. A record 54,000 attended the 1922 game at Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves baseball team. On November 28, 1942, BC lost in a huge upset to the Holy Cross Crusaders by a score of 55–12. This led to the BC players not attending their scheduled victory celebration at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, which burned down that night. By the late 1970s the Holy Cross game had become more of a tradition than a rivalry, as Holy Cross football had long since ceased being a major power. By 1980, the game was no longer part of the student ticket package, and was mostly attended by alumni. In 1986 Holy Cross changed the direction of its football program, joining the Division 1-AA Patriot League, and terminated the series. BC had won 17 of the last 20 games.
The Holy War
In recent years, Notre Dame has become one of BC's football rivals. Today, ND is the only other Catholic university playing NCAA Division I FBS football. The match up was dubbed the "Holy War" in 1975, and has acquired a number of other nicknames over the years. The two teams battle for the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl and the Ireland Trophy. Notre Dame currently leads the all-time series 12–9.
On November 2, 2005, Notre Dame announced that because it had agreed to a request from the Big East to play teams from that conference each season, it would suspend the Boston College series following the 2010 season. Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said the conference made the request after Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech withdrew from the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, on February 6, 2007, BC Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo stated "The Notre Dame contract calls for two games in South Bend [sic], in 2007 and 2009, and two games in Boston, in 2008 and 2010. We have been in discussions with Notre Dame concerning additional games, and I am very hopeful that we will be able to announce something in the near future."
While the BC-ND series was scheduled to end in 2010, the schools agreed to extend the rivalry until at least 2019. The Eagles and the Fighting Irish will face each other at Alumni Stadium in 2012, 2015, and 2019, and in South Bend in 2016 and 2018.
Memorable moments in the BC-ND rivalry
The series produced one of the top moments in college football history when in 1993, David Gordon kicked a wobbly 41-yard field goal as time expired to beat top-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame 41–39, ending Irish hopes for a national championship. Notre Dame has not been ranked #1 since. During the 2002 matchup in Notre Dame, Indiana, Notre Dame came into the game undefeated at 8–0, wearing their celebrated green jerseys (which since 1981 had only been worn against archrival USC or in bowl games). BC won the game 14–7, putting an end – again – to Notre Dame's dreams of an undefeated season. The series was played annually from 1992 to 2004 and from 2007 to present.
- 1992 - The beginning of the current "Holy War". In a move he would later regret, ND coach Lou Holtz called a successful fake punt with a 37–0 lead on the way to running up a 54–7 score. While the game was a blowout in Notre Dame's favor, halftime brought the filming of the game scenes used in the film Rudy. Watch closely on the sideline and you can see Boston College paraphernalia.
- 1993 - A week after Notre Dame's "Game of the Century" win over then #1-ranked Florida State, BC dominated for three quarters then fell behind after ND scored three touchdowns in 11 minutes. In the end, BC won on a last second field goal to knock the Irish out of the #1 ranking, a 41–39 loss that would keep ND from winning the national championship.
- 1998 - Deke Cooper's tackle on Mike Cloud at the one yard line completed a dramatic goal line stand in the game's closing moments and preserved a 31–26 victory for Notre Dame in Chestnut Hill. Despite a first and goal from the four yard line, Boston College was unable to score in four plays.
- 2002 - BC's 14–7 win in Notre Dame, Indiana over the green-jerseyed and previously 8–0 Irish is the first loss for then head coach Tyrone Willingham.
- 2007 - BC's 27–14 win not only marked the first 7–0 record for the Eagles since 1942, but also marked the first time either team won five consecutive games in the match up between these teams.
- 2008 - BC's 17–0 win was the first time that either team was able to shut out its opponent. BC joins Michigan and USC in the ranks of teams that have shut out the Irish under coach Charlie Weis.
BC and Virginia Tech first played in 1993 and have played every since, except for 2004. Now both in the ACC, two schools are cross-division rivals, meaning they play each other every year despite not being in the same division.
Virginia Tech is famed for its seeming invincibility in Thursday night games at Lane Stadium. Since 1994, the Hokies are 11–3 at home on Thursday nights. The Eagles delivered 2 of those 3 losses and until 2009 were the only team to beat Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium on a Thursday night.
The 2007 Thursday night meeting between the Eagles and the Hokies was undoubtedly the most exciting game of the rivalry. Matt Ryan led the #2 Eagles to an improbable comeback, scoring 2 TDs in the final 2:11 of the game to give BC the 14–10 victory over #8 Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech currently leads the all-time series 14–6.
The Eagles and the Clemson Tigers first played each other in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1939 season, a game won by the Tigers. The schools played 11 more times until 1960. When BC joined the ACC in 2005, the games between the Eagles and the Tigers were especially memorable. Both the 2005 and 2006 games went to overtime and the 2007 game featured late-game heroics from Matt Ryan in a division-clinching victory.
Starting in 2008, the Boston College Gridiron Club created the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy to honor the friendly rivalry between the Eagles and the Tigers. The trophy is named after BC's Charlie O'Rourke and Clemson's Banks McFadden, star players of their respective teams when the Eagles and Tigers first played in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. The MVP of the game receives a replica leather helmet. Montel Harris was named the MVP of the 2010 meeting.
Clemson currently leads the all-time series 10–9–2.
With the exception of Holy Cross, no team has played Boston College more than the Syracuse Orange. The teams first played in 1924 and started playing an annual game in 1961. In 2004, the Eagles last year in the Big East, the Orange pulled off a surprising upset that kept the Eagles from going to their first BCS game. BC's departure from the Big East put the future of the rivalry in doubt. However, the Eagles and the Orange agreed to play an annual out-of-conference game through 2021. In 2010, the Eagles won the first meeting between the schools since 2004 by a score of 16–7. In September 2011, the ACC announced that they had accepted bids by Syracuse and Pitt to become the 13th and 14th members of the ACC. Syracuse's admission into the ACC, presumably to start the 2014 season, should reignite this storied rivalry.
Syracuse currently leads the all-time series 18–28.
Boston College has been to 22 bowl games, currently holding a 13–9 record. The Eagles posted an 8-game bowl winning streak from 2000 to 2007 and went to 12 consecutive bowl games from 1999 to 2010. BC's 8-game bowl win streak was the nation's longest active streak before it was snapped in 2008. The 12-year streak was tied with Oklahoma for the 6th longest active streak in country.
The 2007 season saw a new coach in Jeff Jagodzinski and an appearance in the 2007 ACC Championship Game.
The 2008 season saw the Eagles matched up once again with the Virginia Tech Hokies in the ACC Championship Game. The Eagles fell short again and accepted a bid to the Music City Bowl to face SEC foe Vanderbilt. The Eagles fell to the Commodores, snapping its 8-game bowl win-streak (at the time the longest active streak in the nation). Senior QB Chris Crane was injured in the second quarter of the game against Wake Forest; redshirt freshman Dominique Davis guided the Eagles to wins against Wake Forest and Maryland to secure BC's second ACC Atlantic Division title.
Boston College was without star LB Mark Herzlich for the entire 2009 season while Herzlich battled Ewing's Sarcoma. Following Herzlich's announcement that he was cancer-free on College Gameday, the Eagles beat the Florida State Seminoles in dramatic fashion. The Eagles finished the season 8–5, 2nd place in the ACC Atlantic Division. Sophomore RB Montel Harris broke the school's single-game rushing record for yards and TDs in BC's win over NC State; Harris rushed for 264 yards and 5 TDs.
After the early season struggles of Dave Shinskie, the Eagles turned to freshman QB Chase Rettig. Rettig's first start was on the road against #16 Florida State, a game the Eagles lost 19–24. The Eagles went on to win their final 5 games to finish the regular season 7–5. Montel Harris injured his knee in the win against Virginia and missed the rest of the season. The Eagles played Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, losing 13–20. After the season, Offensive Coordinator Gary Tranquill was let go and Kevin Rogers was hired. Sophomore LB Luke Kuechly was a finalist for the Butkus Award and was a unanimous All-American. The Eagles' win over the Clemson Tigers marked the Eagles first win since the creation of the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy (created in 2008). Prior to the season, star WR Colin Larmond Jr. suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season.
The Boston College 2011 season was a frustrating one. The Eagles went 4–8 and failed to become bowl-eligible for the first time in 12 years. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Montel Harris, after breaking the school's career rushing record, was sidelined with a knee injury. New offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers left the team following the loss to UCF for health reasons; Tight Ends Coach Dave Brock was promoted to interim OC and Quarterbacks Coach. Graduate Assistant Ben Johnson was promoted interim Tight Ends Coach. Despite the team's struggles, junior LB Luke Kuechly was the recipient of the 2011 Butkus Award, the 2011 Lombardi Award, the 2011 Lott Trophy, and the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Kuechly would go on to be drafted #9 overall to the Carolina Panthers. The season featured a win on the road against the Miami Hurricanes; the only other Eagle win at Miami was Doug Flutie's Miracle in Miami. Following the win over Miami, Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo announced that Frank Spaziani would return as coach for the 2012 season. DeFilippo declared that Spaziani "is the best coach that we've had in the 15 years that I've (DeFilippo) been here."
The Boston College Eagles football season records are taken from the Boston College football media guide.
Current coaching staff
Assistant head coaches
Awards and honors
Individual award winners
Boston College has had 12 consensus All-Americans.
College Football Hall of Fame
Six former BC Players and three former Coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Five players from the 1940 "Team of Destiny", as well as the Coach, are among the inductees. (Year Inducted)
Eagles in the NFL
As of December, 2011, the Eagles have 20 former players on NFL rosters. Among the more notable: Matt Ryan '07 (Falcons), Matt Hasselbeck '98 (Titans), Dan Koppen '03 (Patriots), Mathias Kiwanuka '06 (Giants), Mark Herzlich '11 (Giants), B.J. Raji '09 (Packers)
Since 2000, the Eagles have had 22 players selected in the NFL Draft. Of those picks, 8 were first round selections. BC had consecutive top 10 picks in 2008 and 2009; Matt Ryan was selected 3rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 and B.J. Raji was selected 9th overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2009. Luke Kuechly is the most recent Eagle to be drafted, selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 9th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Eagles have a reputation of producing high-quality NFL Offensive Linemen, earning the school the nickname "O-Line U". Notable alums of O-Line U include Tom Nalen '93 (5x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champion), Ron Stone '92 (3x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champion), Damien Woody '98 (1x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champion), Dan Koppen '02 (1x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champion), and Chris Snee '03 (3x Pro Bowl Selection, 2x Super Bowl Champion).
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