Oct 13, 2012; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Devonta Freeman (8) runs the ball through Boston College Eagles defensive backs Sean Sylvia (19) and Justin Simmons (27) during the second half of the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

ACC Conversations: Catching up with Boston College

As Chop Chat is new to the FanSided network, we plan on catching up with our ACC colleagues and rivals.  Recently, we caught up with Joe at Soaring to Glory, which covers Boston College athletics.  Here’s our conversation:

  Questions for Soaring to Glory about Boston College:

1.  How is the transition to Steve Addazio going and how has the fan base received the coaching changes?
It seems like the transition is going well.  Addazio wasn’t the big-name hire, but all indications are that he’s working hard, particularly on the recruiting trail.  The best thing he’s done in my estimation was hiring Don Brown as defensive coordinator.  Brown has had success wherever he’s been and his aggressive scheme is the complete opposite of the passive, bend but don’t break style we saw before.  Finally, the players seem to like him and his intensity, which is also a change for the better.  The fans are at least willing to give Addazio a chance, though most have come to the point where they’re upbeat about the future of the program.


2.  Have you noticed any differences between where Boston College is this spring and last spring?
Yes, if only in terms of the state of the program.  A year ago, our spring game was played on a cold, rainy March afternoon and the stadium was mostly empty.  It was a perfect representation of BC football at the time.  Our former athletic director was a staunch Frank Spaziani supporter, even as the program stunk of death, and the only people who were optimistic going into the 2012 season were the most extremely biased BC fans.  Now, there’s a new AD, a new coach, and a new energy.  I can’t tell you this team is going to do much in 2013, but at least there’s some fresh air blowing through and most of us think BC might be fun to watch again, even if they don’t win this season.


3.  Would Boston College welcome Tom O’Brien back?
I can’t speak for them all, but I wouldn’t.  He was good for when BC first hired him to clean up the program after the gambling scandal under Dan Henning (and all the losing), but he consistently lost the big game.  NC State fans would probably tell you the same thing about TOB’s propensity to be relatively respectable but never get his teams to the next level.  In a lot of ways, I think Addazio might be our next TOB: restore the program to respectability, then hand it off to the next guy who will build on his success, but time will tell.


4.  How high are expectations for Chase Rettig?
That depends on who you ask.  BC fans run almost the full spectrum on Rettig: the most pessimistic see him as average at best, while the most optimistic think he’s a high draft pick in 2014.  Myself I think he has the potential to have a good senior year and be one of the ACC’s better quarterbacks, and if he does, his ceiling is a late-round NFL pick in 2014.  Some BC fans would say I’m pessimistic for suggesting that, but for the last four years, BC’s offense has been god-awful.  I’d like to see Rettig finally have a breakout year but I’ll settle for above-average.  BC’s more pressing concern is who replaces him in 2014; I don’t want to think about it.


5.  Can BC find a running game to support Rettig?
Addazio is a running-game type of guy, so I hope so.  A lot will have to do with the offensive line.  Boston College was known as “O-Line U” for many years and I realize it’s sacrilege at BC to say that we haven’t been recently, but it’s true.  If BC can find some help in the middle of the offensive line then I think we’ll be alright.  Unrelated, but our offensive line isn’t the one I’m even the most worried about, though: the defensive line is.  Last year, that group was the worst they’ve been in my 9 years following this team.


6.  We have heard rumors about Boston College and the Big Ten.  Do you think those are merely rumors?  Is BC happy to have Northeastern partners joining the conference, like Syracuse and Pitt?
Thankfully, those are just rumors and they’re not seriously discussed around here these days.  Personally, I’ve been happy in the ACC since day one and it definitely helps that the north is joining the party.  In a few years, we’ll have Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame (though not in football), and Louisville with us so it’ll be a little more geographically balanced.  BC was never in a conference with Louisville but we were with the other three schools, and there have been some fun games with them.  I’m looking forward to it.

 Questions from Soaring to Glory about Florida State: 

1. If my information is right, your Seminoles have their spring game next Saturday.  At a football school with tradition like yours, I’d imagine it’s a big event.  Just in general, what’s the day like and what kind of crowds do you expect?
When I was a student, the spring games weren’t a big deal.  We went to them, but they’d be lucky to hit around 20,000 people.  Things are different now.  Jimbo Fisher is equal parts coach and businessman. He understands that you have to drive up interest in Spring to get more season ticket holders in the Fall.  Recently, we have been hitting 50,000 fans and I would expect slightly less than that this year.  50,000 still means lots of fun and tailgating, a primer for the Fall.  Last year, expectations couldn’t have been higher for the 2012 squad.  ESPN sent their army to televise the game.  Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach were honorary coaches and even called a few series.  This year, no one knows what to expect from FSU and while that makes this squad mysterious, it won’t have a lot of hype.  This year’s game, though, is much more important than last year’s.


2. Moving onto the actual football matters, EJ Manuel is on his way to the NFL.  Who are the main contenders for the next starting quarterback and who do you expect to emerge in the spring game?
If you listen to Jimbo Fisher, there are four candidates: Clint Trickett (the son of FSU’s OL coach, Jacob Coker (an underrated, big armed QB out of Alabama), Jameis Winston (a heralded two-sport star), and Sean Maguire (a solid prospect from New Jersey).  So far, none of the QBs have been able to separate themselves and I don’t see Jimbo picking his guy until a few days before the opening game.  I personally believe Trickett will win the job because he’s a coach’s son and understands the game, but Jameis Winston is the fan favorite.  He exudes talent.  He just might not be ready, however.


3. Another key player Florida State won’t have is Bjoern Werner.  Can we expect to see any competition in the spring game for who will replace him, and broadly speaking, who might step up on that defense?
Losing three players at defensive end with first round NFL talent is going to show this year.  Werner, Tank Carradine, and Brandon Jenkins were monsters.  We have the talent to replace them but they are still fairly green.  Watch for Mario Edwards this year.  He was the top prospect two years ago and he’s now being coached by one of the best defensive end coaches in the business (Sal Sunseri).  Importantly, though, what opponents saw in years past (rushing only off the edge) will not hold true this year.  Mark Stoops did not need to be creative with the pass rush with three 1st round talents at defensive end.  This year, we have new players, new coaches, and a new system altogether.


4. Are there any other position battles or areas of interest to you in this year’s spring football season aside from the aforementioned?
It’s not so much a battle, but FSU lost NFL talent at right tackle.  Menelik Watson left earlier than expected (considering he has only played a few handfuls of football games in his life).  We are now in the process of grooming the next right tackle and our success this season may very well rest on that position.  FSU is absolutely loaded this year at running back and receiver.  The new QB will not be asked to do too much.  The offensive line, which is solid except for right tackle at the moment, may hold the key to the success of the 2013 squad.  Bobby Hart, who is turning 19 just before the season starts, was considered somewhat of a prodigy but he hasn’t been able to redshirt yet (this is his 3rd year in the program).  Many are hoping he turns out but if he doesn’t, we may see the entire offensive shuffle around.


5. Now for the program at-large: following the Orange Bowl win, heading into spring football, where are short-term expectations for the Seminoles right now?  Has some of the heat been taken off of Jimbo Fisher?
I don’t think the heat has worn off.  He got some credit for hauling in a great recruiting class but the majority of fans seem to question Fisher’s long-term potential at this point.  I’m not one of those fans.  Because Fisher is a Saban disciple, fans are quick to compare Fisher to Saban.  The problem is you can’t compare anyone to Saban right now.  The best comparison for Fisher is the Saban who coached at Michigan State.  Regarding expectations, even though this team lost 6 coaches and a slew of NFL talent, the fans are still expecting a 2 loss season.  FSU plays both Clemson and UF on the road but we only expect to lose one of those.  Meanwhile, we are going to concede one more unexpected game that has become the norm under Jimbo Fisher.  Losses like NC State last year and Virginia the year before, games where FSU is a double digit favorite, have stung the fans.  I attribute those to growing pains and not an indictment on the long-term outlook for Fisher.  FSU would be lucky to hold on to Fisher for 20 years.

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