Point/Counterpoint: Will Football Have A Winning Season Next Year? No
Strong Finish Is No Indication Of Success
Published: Sunday, December 4, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Debilitating injuries, midseason coaching changes, and close losses defined the 2011 Boston College football season. To those of us who witnessed it, however, it will be remembered for a petty four wins, a fifth-place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division, and the end of an era filled with the Eagles participating in the college football postseason.
While we all hope that this year was just an anomaly for a program that prides itself on winning year-in and year-out, all evidence points to the fact that adversity will continue in 2012.
For a team to progress, as the Eagles will ultimately need to in 2012, serious change is needed. Yet, the program appears to be all too satisfied with stagnation. Head coach Frank Spaziani was retained after his team won three of its last five games, including a two-point loss to rival Notre Dame.
Despite the impressive finish, however, it's clear that the program has been headed in the wrong direction over the past few years. Win totals have declined, and the Eagles recorded their first losing season in over a decade.
Perhaps more staggeringly, both offensive and defensive statistics declined in 2011. This past year, the Eagles were ranked a mere 113th in in total offense (falling from an already weak 110th last season) and 73rd in total defense (after being ranked 13th just a year ago).
On the offensive side, Chase Rettig will need to make significant progress for the Eagles to return to a bowl game next year. Despite playing well at the end of the season, Rettig never showed the progress he was supposed to make in his second year under center.
Whether it was the loss of offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, the injury to star wide-out Ifeanyi Momah, or just poor protection up front that led to some hardship for the sophomore quarterback, there is absolutely no guarantee that Rettig will make a leap to the elite status BC needs in 2012.
For the Eagles to be successful, they will need to open up and diversify their playbook. To do so, they'll need to have faith in Rettig's decision -making and ability to execute tough throws in key situations. This year, though, they seemed to have neither.
On the defensive side, one major (and I mean MAJOR) question lingers: will All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly return for his senior season? When the defense sputtered, No. 40 seemed to be there to make a much-needed play. Often, "Superman" seemed to transport from one side of the field to the other to make a tackle on an unsuspecting ball carrier.
However, as a projected first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, it seems to make sense that Kuechly will forgo his senior season in Chestnut Hill. Without the heart and soul of the defense (and Eagles' team for that matter), it will be difficult for those remaining to respond and succeed at a high level. A new leader will need to step up, and as talented as the young linebacking core is, it is nearly impossible to fill the shoes of the best defensive player in the country.
Finally, as daunting as the schedule appeared in 2011, it doesn't get any easier in 2012. BC will face Northwestern on the road, a team that left the Heights with an impressive victory in the Eagles' home opener. BC will also play away games against Florida State and Georgia Tech, two teams that will likely be ranked at the beginning of next season. While an exciting home slate will likely fill Alumni Stadium with match-ups against Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami, and Clemson, there will be few easy wins to come by.
All in all, there are just too many questions for BC next year. Could they win seven or eight games? Sure. But as long as the ACC continues to improve, the Eagles will, in all likelihood, be regrettably similar in 2012.