It wasn't long ago that Boston College was one of the most successful programs in college football and regularly put players in the NFL. A lot of that has been forgotten in the last three years as the Eagles football team has slipped further and further into mediocrity before dropping into "downright terrible" territory this past season under head coach Frank Spaziani. This Sunday though, BC fans will get a strong reminder of the days when the team competed for conference championships and won bowl games.
When the New England Patriots and New York Giants take the field on Sunday for Super Bowl XLVI, the college most represented won't be traditional powers like Florida St., Miami, or USC, it's our own Boston College Eagles. The Eagles will be represented by six former players including Center Dan Koppen and defensive tackle Ron Brace who will don Patriots jerseys, while offensive lineman Chris Snee, linebackers Mathias Kiwanuka and Mark Herzlich, and kick returner Will Blackmon will be in the road red and white jersey of the Giants.
It's also important to note that both coaching staffs have BC connections, particularly the Giants. Head coach Tom Coughlin spent a great deal of time in Chestnut Hill, first as the quarterback coach to Doug Flutie from 1981-1983 and then returning to the Heights in 1991 as the head coach and leading the Eagles to the famous upset of Notre Dame in South Bend back in 1993. Also on the Giants staff, offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr., who held the same position at BC in 2007, is the son of former BC coach Jack Bicknell. Then of course, there's the Giants owner John Mara, a graduate of BC. For the Patriots, defensive assistant coach Brian Flores was a standout linebacker for the Eagles from 1999-2003 and owner Bob Kraft is a trustee with the school.
The sheer number of connections to New England's most successful college football program is a stark reminder that with the right coach and mindset, BC can do great things in the world of college football while also preparing them for success in the professional ranks. To illustrate the level of success that the Eagles had in the last decade or so prior to the arrival of Frank Spaziani as the head coach, the six players that will represent BC on Sunday played in a combined 24 bowl games, winning 20 of them. Only Herzlich lost more than one bowl game during his time on the Heights (2008 Music City Bowl, 2009 Emerald City Bowl).
Meanwhile, Wednesday is national signing day around college football, and the Eagles recruiting class is expected to be among the weakest that the school has ever brought in thanks to many of their most highly touted recruits reversing course because of the staff's inability to close and sell the program. While recruiting rankings are not always accurate and it's also nearly impossible to judge a recruiting class until AFTER they've played a couple of seasons, the truth is that a fair percentage of BC's incoming class wasn't recruited by other schools in BCS conferences. As much as Spaz will try and insinuate that he and his staff are simply "great talent evaluators", the reality is that it's unlikely that the 40 or so other BCS schools are all wrong. The truth is that Spaz is bringing in talent that is more suited to the Mid-American Conference, and the odds are slim that only one or two will find their way to contributing to an NFL team in the way we'll see during this years Super Bowl.
In addition, with the NFL draft just a few months away, only one member of the Eagles is expected to be drafted in the first two days, all-everything linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly spent three years under the tutelage of Spaz and defensive coordinator Bill McGovern and got better and better before capping it off with an incredible junior season that saw him take home almost every defensive award available to him. It's important to point out though, that Kuechly was recruited under former head coach Jeff Jagodzinski and not Spaz. Beyond Kuechly, the only other BC player who is expected to be drafted is cornerback Donnie Fletcher, though his poor showing at the Senior Bowl this past weekend might have given some teams pause on him.
The Super Bowl will be an opportunity for fans of the Boston College football team to hold their heads high and reminisce about the great games and plays that were made by some of the best players the school has ever seen. It should also be a sobering reminder of how far the program has fallen in recent years under the guidance of head coach Frank Spaziani and his enabling boss Gene DeFilippo. As long as those two are in place and allowed to run roughshod through the Yawkey Center with little to no outcry from their paying customers, it's highly unlikely we'll see the school represented in the Super Bowl in the manner ever again.