Steve Addazio has a massive opportunity on Friday night.
This game on Friday, though, has become less of a potential upset opportunity and more of a necessity.
After failing to deliver to his fan base in a clearly winnable bowl game for the second consecutive year, this game highlights the dire nature of the program. After a Howard game that left fans bored rather than excited, Addazio’s time is almost here.
Having to win seven games this year means that NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Northern Illinois, and Syracuse are must-wins. I don’t see that happening this year from a program that slipped up against Colorado State, failed miserably against Pittsburgh, and eked out wins at Wake Forest and Virginia Tech last year.
And right now, this year’s team is nowhere close to level of the team that took down USC.
The BC community sees the chance for a repeat of last year’s magic against the Trojans, and Addazio needs the stars to re-align.
It’s not that simple.
It’s not hard to recognize why this week feels so familiar, and why fans feel this way. Last year, USC was No. 9 in the country. This week, the No. 9 spot belongs to Florida State.
In the mind of the fan, BC will absolutely be in this game. They’re still buzzed and haven’t yet reached the hangover from an up-and-down season last year. They see the upset from last year and that BC has played FSU close in the past. That’s enough for someone to say, “We have a chance,” without really looking at the differences between the two teams this year.
Outside of the BC bubble, however, pundits and football minds don’t expect anything from this team. They’ve chalked it up to be a true rebuilding year. The last two seasons were supposed to be rebuilding years, but Addazio and the Eagles defied expectations. Now, they see a young team with an untested starting QB, and so all talk about results and bowl eligibility ceases.
While I don’t trust BC to win all of those winnable games, I still think Addazio still has enough up his sleeve—even after two years of surprises—to take down FSU.
A lot can be said about his in-game management, but he’s still a coach that loves nothing more than unleashing a hidden weapon from his arsenal during big games.
Even BC Athletics is pulling out all the stops into this game to try and recreate the scenario from last year and build it up.
Friday night will be the annual Red Bandana game—like the USC game last year—instead of the Howard game, which came a day after the 14th anniversary of Sept. 11. The move makes sense, though, given the significance of an ACC matchup in comparison to playing a weak FCS opponent.
During the game, BC will also recognize the 2005 football team to honor the anniversary of BC’s inaugural game in the ACC, which came against Florida State. Former BC-QB-turned-NFL-starter Tim Hasselbeck and his wife, Elizabeth, who played softball at BC and now hosts a show on Fox, will also be recognized, apparently just for going on to successful, public careers.
But wait, there’s more. Aer Lingus, in preparation for the game in Ireland next fall, is bringing Irish step-dancers and bagpipe players to welcome fans into Gate E, and famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will sing “God Bless America” at halftime.
Even Papa Gino’s and Kayem are getting into the action, the former hosting a pizza-eating contest at halftime and the latter randomly upgrading tailgating spots with “Artisan Sausages.”
I think they’re just forgetting the magician, the clown, and extra party streamers.
On top of all this, ESPN is capitalizing on the game in hopes of another thriller, as SportsCenter will be live from Alumni Stadium before kickoff.
All these festivities, all this focus, seem too much for such a young team.
As my colleague pointed out, we have yet to discover any truths about this team. There’s nothing to go on to say that BC has a chance against Florida State. The Maine opener was a classic smooth-out-the-bumps and get-rid-of-the-jitters opening game of the season and the Howard game was nothing more than a scrimmage.
That same colleague reminded us that we still don’t know who Darius Wade is, but we certainly know who Addazio is as a coach.
BC’s defense is fantastic and should take advantage of a Seminole offense that started slow against South Florida last week. They just need to get it all together on offense.
So we’ve entered into a twilight zone, an eery place where Kayam people give out artisanally crafted meats to strangers. It’s some hazy metropolis that looks exactly like last year.
This—all the special events and all the talk of the stars aligning—could be forcing it. Let the upset come to you, the way it did last year when a rainy Saturday night suddenly turned into a field-storming frenzy.
I don’t think that Addazio cares about any of that, though. Whether Addazio has enough secrets weapons to get the offense going is still up for debate.
But that doesn’t matter, because he has to have enough. Everyone—the fans, ESPN, BC Athletics—are all-in. If he fails, he fails in front of everyone. All the focus is on this game, and if this BC team wants to go anywhere, Addazio has to win this game.
I don’t trust the Eagles enough to take care of the easier opponents, but I trust Addazio. He’s been the type of coach that thrives in the twilight zone, which we saw against USC last year.
If BC does come through, it’ll finally give fans exactly what it wants, cementing the campus into a utopian euphoria that could carry the team on a big run—a run that this team needs in order to improve on last year.
With the spotlight on the team, it’s time for Addazio to step up, or else we fall into a darker place labeled “rebuilding” that no one wants to be.
It’s time for Addazio to show the world what kind of a coach he is.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor