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Column: Is It Time To Call A Must-Win Game?

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

I hate the term “must-win game.” It seems silly. If you think about it literally, no win is a must-win game unless it’s a do-or-die playoff. If it’s a regular season game, it’s probably an important game, but why must the team win? What happens if it doesn’t?
I worked with a broadcaster a few summers ago, and I cringed every time he called a game a “must-win.” I swear, out of the 42 games in the season, he probably called at least half of them must-win games. I told myself after that summer I’d never use the term myself.

For that reason, Saturday’s football matchup against Clemson is not a must-win game. But it’s damn near close.

And that’s a scary thing to say about the No. 17 Tigers, who are one of the ACC’s best, just missing out on pulling off an upset against No. 4 Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee. But that’s the corner that Boston College has backed itself into.

Everybody knows that a 1-3 record could be around the corner, and with a new athletic director likely coming in the next week or two, nobody truly knows how much time is left on the Frank Spaziani ticker. He could have weeks, till the end of the season, or maybe he’ll prove everyone wrong and be back next year.

But that all depends on this weekend, in my own opinion. It’s been forever since the Eagles beat a ranked team. Actually, they haven’t done it since 2008, when Jeff Jagodzinski was the head coach for whom Spaziani was the defensive coordinator. That year, BC got the best of No. 17 Virginia Tech at Alumni Stadium, and No. 19 Florida State on the road. Under Spaziani, the Eagles have yet to break through against any team in the Top 25. That fact speaks for itself.

Spaziani knows he needs a win. More importantly, though, the team itself needs the win. Another loss could be a major blow to the morale of the team. Talking to the players, it still seems they are upbeat about their situation. But you wonder how much that could change with another loss at home and another 1-3 record to start the season.

A team can only go so long without making a statement. It’s been too long since the Eagles have. How long can BC go without making its own? Only a few players on the current roster were a part of that 2008 team. That means the majority of the roster has never beaten a ranked opponent while on the Heights. It’s time for that to change.

Spaziani said in a conference call last week that he thought quarterback Chase Rettig was playing “very well.” But he then went on to say he hasn’t done “some of the elite things, but he’s close.” I can’t speak for Spaz, but I bet he’d call Rettig elite if the Eagles got the W against Clemson. I’ve been one of Rettig’s biggest fans so far this season, and I think he has improved incredibly since last year, but he’s still lacking one thing: the big win. Many have been quick to shower Rettig with praise, and while a lot of that is deserved, it doesn’t mean anything unless his team is winning games. That’s what makes a quarterback elite. That’s what makes a good quarterback great. And the Clemson game this Saturday is another chance for Rettig to be great.

By no means is this the nicest game to call a must-win. And you know I hate using those words. But if Spaziani and the Eagles have ever faced anything close to a must-win, this Saturday is it. Win, and they have another week to breathe, another week to improve, and another week with good vibes. Lose, and they’re 1-3, they’ll have lost to yet another ranked opponent, and frustration will only rise. You thought emotions were high after the Northwestern loss? They’ll likely be on full display with a potential loss against Clemson.

If BC isn’t up to the task this Saturday against another ranked opponent, I’d be surprised if the next statement is coming not from the Eagles, but instead from the new AD.

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