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Column: BC Football Tradition Continues To Stay Strong On Sundays In The NFL

Heights Staff

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Besides Saturday, there hasn’t been much to cheer about with regard to this year’s Boston College football team. After starting the season by scoring touchdowns on their first two drives against Miami, the Eagles have been outscored 247 to 137 by Division I opponents.

Through eight games, fans have witnessed a poor defense, one that ranks 118th out of 120 FBS teams in rushing yards allowed per game. We’ve also been subjected to a coaching staff that hasn’t been able to make necessary adjustments, nor manage the game effectively in close situations.

Our football team wasn’t always in this predicament, however. A few years before our classmates arrived on the Heights, BC was in the midst of a dominant stretch that spanned throughout the 2000s. By a quick glance at the NFL any Sunday, you can watch some of the players that made up integral parts of those teams.

Last week, for instance, former BC quarterback Matt Hasselbeck led the Titans to a come-from-behind 35-34 win. On fourth and 10 with just over a minute left, Hasselbeck threw a touchdown pass to Nate Washington, completing the team’s comeback and proving that he’s still a worthy starter with Jake Locker recovering from injury.

Back in 1996, years before he would later become a star with the Seattle Seahawks, Hasselbeck started his first games for BC. Unfortunately for him, it was the same season in which 13 Eagles were suspended for betting on college and pro sports. This included at least one game in which two players bet against the Eagles. As a result, in the next two seasons, the team went 4-7.

Hasselbeck’s brother, Tim, took over as the starter during the 1999 season. The team then proceeded to rip off the best stretch in school history.

BC went on an eight-bowl winning streak from 2000-2007, and from 2001-2009 the team won at least eight games every year. They were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, thanks in large part to another current NFL QB, Matt Ryan.

This season, Matty Ice has led the Atlanta Falcons to the NFL’s only undefeated record. Before this Sunday’s masterful three-touchdown, 262-yard performance against Philadelphia, Ryan was fourth in the league with a 98.8 QB Rating. He’s most certainly in the race for MVP, and has made numerous clutch throws throughout the year. Many analysts who cover the sport feel this is the season Ryan is finally putting it all together.  

In his final two years on the Heights, Ryan compiled a 21-6 record as starter, and in his senior season he threw for over 4500 yards and 31 TDs. By comparison’s sake, Chase Rettig is on pace for 3300 yards and 23 TDs this year. That difference, combined with a stout Eagles defense, made BC a contender for the national title in 2007.

Earlier this season against the Panthers, Ryan had one of his best games as a Falcon. He put up 369 passing yards and three touchdowns. The most important play of the game, a 59-yard bomb to Roddy White, was thrown in the fourth quarter, with under a minute left, and Atlanta pinned at their one-yard line. The Falcons then won the game on a field goal with five seconds remaining to preserve their perfect record.

Standing on the sidelines to witness that bomb was former BC linebacker Luke Kuechly. He wasn’t playing at the time because of the Panthers’ prevent defense package. When Kuechly was on the field earlier in the season, he had been playing out of position. Jon Beason was entrenched at the middle linebacker spot, so Kuechly had been lining up on the outside.

After Beason went down with an injury, the Carolina coaches promptly wised up and installed Kuechly at his natural position: middle linebacker. The results have been spectacular: 52 tackles over his past five games, with seven tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and an interception. He’s well on his way to becoming the player the Panthers hoped for when they drafted him.

Before the season, Carolina center Ryan Kalil took out a full-page newspaper ad stating that the Panthers would win the Super Bowl this year. Perhaps most of that prediction was based on the idea that Cam Newton would continue to dominate the league, but surely the presence of Kuechly weighed in on his decision to make that statement. He couldn’t have been farther off—the Panthers have started the year 1-6.

While Kuechly won’t make the Super Bowl this year, you may remember that last season, BC was the most-represented college team in the championship game. That’s right: there were more alumni from Chestnut Hill than the powers that rule college football today, such as Alabama, LSU or USC.

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